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