The Trouble with Cats

Stevie Cool Cat

I have a cat, or maybe he has me.

The problem with this cat is I don’t know what to do with him. I’m an animal lover. I used to own horses, and I have three dogs. But you see, the trouble with cats is that they aren’t like other animals.

You cannot control a cat.

Ever since we moved into the neighborhood, my family would not allow me to own a cat. But then one day this kitten showed up. And he sat on the tire of our big truck. I thought he was an angel in disguise.

Our neighborhood is full of dogs, big dogs–big, cat-eating dogs–and when this kitten showed up, I believed in my heart of hearts there had to be a reason.

I made him—pardon the expression—a cat house on my front porch, and I stuffed it with straw. I bought him a feeding dish and food and tried to make him really comfortable. And he stuck around.

Eventually, I invited him in, and for months we sat together in my sunroom, enjoying one another’s company. He was perfect, everything I had been looking for in a cat. Totally low maintenance. He had no litter box. He asked to go outside, and he asked to come back inside.

How cool is that?

But one day he didn’t come back. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. I realized this cat was not my pet. This cat was my companion. I loved that cat, and my heart sunk when I couldn’t find him.

And then one day, for no reason, he showed back up. Good old Stevie Ray pawed at my backdoor, and I let him in.

I knew he would be back. I loved him.

And so he stuck around—for a while. But then he left again, this time for a long time. My family consoled me and hinted that I would probably never see him again, but I had a feeling I would. And I did.

Six months later.

This time when he came back, I had the vet look him over, catch him up on his vaccinations—and surgically take care of “things.”

And for the first time ever, Stevie Ray became a permanent resident in my house. I bought him a litter box, and I closed the door and issued the warning—no more roaming around.

But now I have regrets. I know a responsible pet own should take ownership of the animal and make sure it doesn’t produce litters that may suffer abuse, starvation, or neglect. I did that. But I also don’t want him bothering  the neighbors, but Stevie Ray isn’t like other animals. He isn’t a pet. He is Stevie Ray.

I feel so bad that I’ve taken away his freedom. Surely, you have heard of this old saying: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t come back, it never was.

Well, I think that saying is stupid.

But I can’t stand to see Stevie cooped up. But if I let him out, the dogs might get him. The cars might hit him. The kids in the neighborhood might torment him. I love him. I want to protect him.

I sound like his mother. I have to remember I am just his human being.

Over the weekend, I went to see the closing production of The Trouble with Cats, a comedy directed by my childhood friend. I couldn’t miss it. And I’m so glad I went. The cast—and director—did a great job. It was hilarious. But now that the play has closed, I can give a spoiler alert.

I couldn’t find one cat in the play. Not one—or was there?

Cats are mysterious animals. They always do their own thing. They seem to know what we’re thinking, but they can and will deliberately do the opposite of our wishes should it so please them.

And so, here I am. I feel like Phoebe from friends singing “Smelly Cat.” Please, if you will, join in on the chorus.

What’s a cat companion to do?

Dogs are so much easier. They sit. They stay. They speak. Sometimes they beg. And the sweet ones like my Lacy, shake hands and give hugs, well as much as a dog can give a hug.

But what do I do about this cat, who, at this moment, is perched on the sofa beside me, meowing and kneading? I spoke too soon. Now he has moved to my computer. I think he’s reading my words. I wonder if he approves.

Stevie hates the confinement, not all the time, but sometimes, and sabotages the litter box and its surroundings. Otherwise he seems to be happy. And I’m happy. I love this cat. But Stevie is a gypsy, a traveler. Can I really keep him confined? I don’t think it should matter if I’m happy. I don’t own this cat. A human being can’t own a cat.

Do I open the door and let him roam, or do I keep him safe with me? Think artistically for a moment. If you had to be one or the other, which would you be—a cat or a dog? If you’re a cat, what’s your advice concerning your fellow feline? If you’re a dog, what’s your advice concerning the cat?

Or you can just be the human being you are and tell me– WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT THE CAT?

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France



Music and cats

15 thoughts on “The Trouble with Cats

  1. Another nice story Teresa, It reminds me of the song The Cat Came Back I first heard this on the Muppet Show by Rolf the Dog. I know hom much Stevie Ray means to you, I know how you were when he was gone I hope he is with you a long while

      • Quick Story My Mom and Dad had a cat her name was Callie, My sister Pam got her from the shelter at first they didn’t want another pet this was on a Friday so they would have to wait till Monday to take her back, Over the weekend Callie worked her charms on my Mom and soon she was my Mom’s Buddy they had her when they moved to Manchester she was a diabetic cat and always knew when it was time for her shot, Sadly Callie got worse and soon she was blind and my folks had her put down, We like to think when my Mom passed on Callie was there to meet her and now are together in a better place

      • Such a sweet story, Dennis. I don’t know if animals go to Heaven. I don’t know that they don’t The Bible mentions horses, so I am prepared to ride on.

  2. I always thought I would make a pretty good dog as I like to sleep and eat when someone else fills the food dish but on the other hand I suppose I could be a cat, having my own personality and not responding to anyones commands. I imagine that you will have to make your own decision on Stevie Rays captivity or free roaming since I don’t want to be blamed later in case he decides not to come back. Nice read

    • Well, we made it to the front porch last night. I opened the door. He went out and stood there, waiting. I scooped him up and brought him back in. 🙂 I’m such a baby. 🙂 The dogs were going crazy last night. We have coyotes in the area and a bobcat or panther. I saw animals that were HUGE enough to be wolves. I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame you. 🙂 I can’t blame me either if he doesn’t come back.

  3. Aye, if I were an animal, I’d probably be a bird of some kind (probably a dodo bird!) for I oft dream of flying. Birds, like cats, must be free. Stevie Ray appeared unexpectedly and returns at intervals (when allowed to roam). I believe animals, as well as people, come into our lives for a reason. Perhaps the “test” is one of trust (let him go, trusting that God will bring him home and keep him safe) and of love (loving him enough to let him go)…

  4. I think I would be a dog. It seems like dogs generally enjoy life and have fun. I do not know how to advise you about Stevie Ray. Different bonds, like flowers, flourish in different conditions. Some reach their peak beauty in a more structured, controlled environment (greenhouse). Others bloom best when well-tended but still allowed to contend with the elements (garden). Expansive liberty brings out the best in others (wildflower field).

    • Stevie is still with me in the house. He has settled in nicely, and I lavish attention on him. He has become SO LOVING. He follows me around like a dog, and I praise him. He wants to be in the same room as me at all times. We have grown to be the best of buds. He does get jealous when I grade English papers. He ATTACKS them and tries to rip them to shreds. But, hey, I have felt that way myself. 🙂 But he is great company. He’s safe. He’s content. He’s love very, very much. We did have a dispute over the moving of the litter box, but the conflict has been resolved. He expects to receive the individual meat servings of Meow Mix in addition to his dry cat food, but other than that, I think he’s happy. I’m very happy. I praise him every time I enter the room, and he responds with a purr and closes his eyes, raises his chin, and waits for me to scratch. Spoiled cat! lol. His main vice now is pouncing on Michael when Michael least expects it. He also bits Michael’s head if Michael falls asleep on the couch. (I think Michael has met his match.)

  5. FOLLOW UP: The cat stays. I love him. He loves affection. He talks to me constantly. He doesn’t beg to leave now. He’s my constant companion. I think he’s happy. 🙂

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