My family did not have many pets when I was a kid. I was in high school before my parents got the first dog I remember. So when my family and I moved into a new house when my children were ages 10 and 7, I agreed for my younger daughter to get a cat. A friend of hers had just had kittens, and this daughter loves cats.
We got a striped, gray cat with a white chin, belly, and paws. We named him Smoky. He thought he was a human in a cat’s body. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, mainly because I wasn’t too sure about letting an animal have free rein in my house. He was the bully of the neighborhood. Since we were the first house to be completed on our block, he must have thought that all of the land around our house belonged to him. When other animals moved in, they quickly found out who was boss. When a small group of dogs were headed toward the house one day, they turned and went the other way when they saw Smoky. The neighbor’s dog let Smoky eat his food. Smoky thanked the neighbors by leaving them small gifts like a dead squirrel or bird on their front porch on nights when he knew they were having a party. I saw a blue jay dive bomb Smoky one day. He probably deserved it.
Smoky was quite a character. My daughter would put him in her doll stroller and run around the house with him. He must have loved that because he never jumped out. He would also hide under the ottoman and jump out at my daughter when she ran past. He jumped in your lap if he wanted to, and it didn’t matter what you were doing. One Thanksgiving, I was doing my usual million things at once to get ready for the holiday. I had just covered some rolls with a towel to rise and then went to catch up on folding clothes. I came back to find that the towel had been smashed down into the rolls. I had to start the rolls over, and Smoky got tossed outside. I will say that Smoky never repeated an offense. He didn’t like getting into trouble.
There was one animal that didn’t kowtow to Smoky’s rule. When Smoky was 3 years old we got a chocolate Labrador named Chip. Smoky was livid that we allowed that DOG to take over HIS back yard. Chip would chase Smoky any time Smoky entered the back yard even if he got a bloody nose from being scratched. Smoky, in turn, would taunt Chip by walking along the top of the fence where Chip couldn’t get him. Chip had a rug he laid on when in the house. Smoky was always watching to make sure Chip behaved. Smoky’s body language spoke loud and clear about his feelings about the dog.
Smoky also got into cat fights. We spent a lot of money at the vet’s office for abscessed wounds. We thought they should have named at least one of the examining rooms after Smoky. We began making him come in at night. One evening, though, Smoky lost a fight with a car. We rushed him to a 24 hour vet clinic. After a week at the vet’s office and a bill of around $1200, Smoky was strictly an indoor cat. I told him he was on his last life.
When Smoky was 8 years old, my daughter wanted another cat that was mainly her cat and not a family pet. Thus, we acquired Pete, a mainly white cat. Pete was a maniacal cat. I didn’t know the full extent of his craziness until much later. He ended up on Prozac. That cat was also not allowed to have any toys with catnip. Smoky didn’t like Pete but knew he had to tolerate him. Every morning when I would let Smoky go outside, he would look toward my daughter’s room (where Pete stayed) and growled and hissed all the way out the door. Pete was also NOT allowed on the sofa, and that rule held even after Smoky was gone until we got a new sofa.
After Smoky died and my daughter went to college, I thought Pete needed a buddy. Enter a solid black cat named Felix. We always felt that Felix was a dog in a cat’s body. He loved to have you rub his belly. He also loved to terrorize Pete. If Pete was in my husband’s lap, Felix would play with Pete’s tail and get him to move. Then Felix would jump up into my husband’s lap. The cats always liked my husband’s lap better than mine because I would get up too often.
Pete lived until the ripe old age of 16 1/2, which was much longer than I was hoping for. That cat caused a lot of trouble around the house. Felix is now the lone pet. He weighs about 20 pounds. I don’t know how he can weigh that much when he eats very little. He must have no metabolism at all. My husband is Felix’s best buddy. Felix is very laid back, but when he’s had enough of the grandkids he will go hide. Felix is 12 1/2. When he’s gone, we are not going to get any more animals. I have decided that I’m not an animal person. I love animals, but only when they belong to someone else.
You may be wondering why Pete didn’t go live with my youngest daughter after she graduated college. The answer is that she married a young man who is deathly allergic to cats. We go through some major de-catting when they come to visit, and the son-in-law is doped up on antihistamines.
The moral of the story is don’t let your child get a pet unless you plan to keep it until it dies. After 25 years of 3 cats and 1 dog, I’m ready to be animal-free.