• 57°

Doggone That Cat Scratch Fever

I don't get along too well with cats.

Oh, I suppose I have a good enough long distance relationship with lions-ditto tigers, bobcats, lynxes, panthers, cougars, jaguars, meerkats and the like, but housecats know how to rumple feathers.

Before I get too wayward and offend my cat loving friends, you have my permission to stop reading. Go ahead. You don't have to make it to the next period. Now, now, I don't mind, really. I'd rather have you back for the next column than tune out for good.

There, there. It's OK.

Seriously.

Yes, seriously.

Take care.

Next time.

OK.

Now that I've lost a chunk of readers, let me make my case before the home crowd (and cat lovers who are nonetheless pressing on despite the caution). I know the world is divided between those who love dogs and those who prefer cats. Well, I suppose there are a few miniscule slivers in the pie chart for those who like neither, or prefer birds or rodents or snakes or such, but by and large, there's roughly an equal division between the two most common pets.

We have three cats. Yes, it's strange considering how I don't get along so well with them, but one does what one has to do to keep balance in the family. Come to think of it, I'd better back up a bit. I believe, upon reflection, that I have expressed the Chapman home situation rather inaccurately. To be more succinct, three cats have us.

Granted, they aren't indoor pets, or really pets at all, for that matter, but I'm just sure they lounge around outside the house most days thinking up new ways to make me miserable.

Not the wife or the daughter, me.

Alice (the real trouble maker) and Thing One and Thing Two (which look so much alike it's hard to tell them apart aside from a slight, but discernable difference in personalities and head size) are sort of the volunteer variety. Alice just appeared full grown one day. Thanks (if only you could hear my best sarcastic drone) to whoever dropped that gift off. The other two arrived later, courtesy of Alice.

Both girls.

After a visit to the vet, we won't have any more surprises courtesy of any of the three.

Not all cats-or even house cats-are bad, I must agree. Most of the time if you see one at someone's house they either stay completely away from you (which is fine) or eventually snuggle up, criss-crossing through your legs and rubbing up against you begging for attention. They'll even let you pet them and purr without much fuss until they've had enough and saunter off to destinations unknown. Attention is always meted out on a cat's terms.

Our three aren't such friendly creatures. Though they are fed nicely and are granted inside porch visitation rights in the cold weather by the wife, one never knows exactly what Alice is going to do and Thing One and Thing Two run almost upon sight of me.

They're intuitive creatures, I suppose. They instinctively know that I am a dog person, though I have attempted to reach out a friendly hand on occasion only to be spurned. That I permit them to stay or toss them an occasional treat should be enough evidence to spark some sort of warm response.

But, no, they don't seem fit to give me one.

Granted, they are a bit warmer to the wife and daughter, but I've met some nice, friendly cats and these are really from a different litter.

I could really live with such behavior, but what gives me a hairball equivalent is what our cats clandestinely do to the deck and the frame around the back door. They have an entire yard full of trees to scratch on, but they think the wood on the deck and frame is some sort of emery board.

I've offered other scratching options, like a chunk of firewood and a scratch pad, but the destruction just continues.

I get the point. It's me, I know. It's their way of communicating some sort of message that their feelings toward me are mutual. Still, one would think, they live there too, so it's a bit odd to destroy one's home when there are plenty of other available options.

I'm just saying.

What's a non-cat-lover to do?

Keep chasing them off the deck and enjoying our two dogs, I suppose.