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Say what you will about a dog, he’ll never pull a knife on you


Saturday, February 3, 2018

It is said that the cat chooses you, not the other way around. The cat in my life has chosen to trash even the slimmest of chances that we might have become friends.

I definitely did not choose the cat that lives at our house. My wife, Sharon, discovered a kitten outside her office. He was near death, so she brought him home and back to health.

The black spots against his mostly white fur are not arranged in a way that inspires cuteness. His green eyes are dull and demanding. His crackly meow sounds like he might be a heavy smoker.

Sharon assumed he would remain smallish. She thought his sickly start to life would leave him stunted. Now he’s just a big, ugly cat that does not respect my role as head of household.

I’m not a cat hater. I have known scads of cats during my life and have bonded with a good number of them. Some may have been standoffish, but we at least achieved a reasonable level of mutual respect.

I have tried doing that with this cat, but he rubs up to me only when he wants food. Still, I have endeavored to recognize and build upon any positive aspects of his presence and personality.

He’s an outside cat—a definite positive. I was beginning to appreciate his rugged nature, which stems from what must have been a harrowing existence before he knew us.

He will come inside to eat now and then, but he prefers the outdoors. There have even been nights when temperatures dipped into single digits, and the cat resisted our best efforts to bring him inside. It could have something to do with catching squirrels off guard.

If cats are born killers, this one has graduated to serial. The lifeless gifts on the doormat almost always are missing their heads.

Opening the back door to see a headless adult squirrel sprawled on the mat is quite startling. Downright shocking is walking into the master bathroom to find the head of a rabbit neatly displayed on the bath rug.

Sharon and our three daughters clearly are this cat’s chosen keepers. They can pick him up and stroke his ears and rub his belly, and for them he will be a ragdoll. And he will purr and look over at me as if to say, “See how easy that can be?”

I have never fallen for that one, but I did pet his head during a recent visit indoors. Reaching out with a gesture of open fellowship, if not outright friendship, I rubbed behind his ears for a solid 25 or 30 seconds.

He closed his eyes and purred, and I thought we had made a genuine connection. When I stopped, he opened his eyes, flattened his ears, and connected his tiny switchblade with my left index finger.

Sharon and the girls would characterize the wound as a slight scratch, but the relationship has been slashed to the bone.

As I write this, I’m sharing Goldfish crackers with our loyal little dog, Max. He asked me to mention how, whenever the cat does come inside, he bullies our honest and trustworthy canine, and steals his bed.

Max and I may have a few minor disagreements of our own, but on one thing we agree completely: This is not our cat.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.