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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

What will the cat man do?

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 01:30 pm

A few cats hang around outside my house now and again. They look healthy and well-fed so I assume they're people's inside-outside cats rather than strays. But they're skittish. When I get home and get out of the car, if one is there it will let me get so close but no closer before it bounds away. One in particular I've noticed lately is a youngish black and white cat that's a bit of a tease. Every time he sees me, he lets me get a little closer before running off.  Last night, he was dozing on my deck and didn't even notice me until I was on the steps leading up. He got up but sort of froze. To escape, he'd have to run right through my legs. I started talking soothingly, in that faux baby talk people sometimes adopt with animals, and he approached tentatively and finally stopped right in front of me. He didn't flinch when I reached down, and he tolerated some head and neck scritching for about five seconds before taking flight.A breakthrough. Not for the cat. I'm sure he messes with people's expectations all day long. For me.

The Morris demesne is catless once again. Dutch recently joined housemate Maggie and their predecessor Pierre in that great litter box in the sky. I in that numb house-feels-so empty stage after grieving and before the thought of a new cat starts to nag at me. Pierre lived to the ripe old age of 19, so he and had been together for a long time. I think it took almost two years before I was ready to go find Dutch and Maggie. Dutch lived to be 17, Maggie a little younger than that. Maybe it won't take quite as long this time, but we'll see.

When — and if — I'm ready to share the house again, I won't be going to a pet store. That's no place to get an animal:

In a unanimous decision hailed by animal welfare activists, Roseville has become the first city in the state to forbid the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores.

Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for the Humane Society of the United States, was thrilled.

"The community really came together around this issue," she said. "We are grateful to the Roseville City Council members for their compassion and for taking a stand against the pet store sale of dogs and cats from puppy and kitten mills."

I have mixed feelings about the ban. I'm a pretty strong free-enterprise guy. Let people decide with their pocketbooks what marketing practices are good and bad. But I also realize that being cooped up in those small cages day after day is not good for dogs or cats either one, even if they didn't come puppy and kitten mills. 

My wife and I never considered ourselves dog or cat people, or even pet people. But Pierre adopted us. We were all sitting around my parents' back yard the day of my father's funeral, and he came streaking in from the alley and jumped right in my lap. We were there the next day, and he did the same thing. So naturally we had to take him home.

And when I was ready for a successor to Pierre, I took the advice of a friend, went to the shelter and, instead of picking out a cat, let one pick me out, or, as it turned out, two of them. I first sat on the floor in the kitty room, but every single one of them climbed all over me, so that was no help. Then I went to the teenage room (yes, they really had such a thing) and they all ignored me, metaphorically leaning against lamp posts, smoking cigarettes and sneering at the world. Finally I went to the adult room, where both Dutch and Maggie, of all the cats there, both jumped in my lap. I don't remember which one jumped up first, but they spent a lot their time after that in my house fighting over my lap.

So, when and if, that's what I'll do next time, too. I'll know when it's time. When I start really missing being ignored most of the time and really, really pestered to do what I'm supposed to the rest of the time, I'll know I'm ready for a new cat. When I want to be severely judged for changing something in the house, it will be time for a new cat. When I'm suddenly eager to have something to be really annoyed at and utterly charmed by at the same time, that's when.

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