From Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Cat
By Dena Harris
I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.
Having two cats is like having two children, where you must never, ever, bring something home for one without buying the exact same thing for the other.
For example, we brought home a new throw rug for the kitchen floor. Nothing fancy, just a basic woven throw with tassels on the ends.
We laid it on the floor.
“What do you think?” I asked my husband.
“Looks good,” he said. “I…”
A rumbling, rushing sound filled the air as two cats careened around the corner. Eyes bulging, ears laid flat, they were neck and neck racing for the rug. In a surprise move, the kitten took a Herculean leap and was the first to land victoriously on the bounty.
“Mrrowr!” she screeched, spread-eagled across the fabric.
“Rowr-rrrr!” the cat yelped, looking to us as if for a judge’s call. She screeched to a halt at the edge of the rug as if an invisible barrier protected it.
The kitten smirked as she pranced around the new rug.
“Well, it was nice for the thirty seconds we could call it ours,” said my husband. “I’m going to watch TV.”
I glared at his retreating back. Yet again, I was left to single-parent the situation. Fortunately, I had the deft touch.
“You share,” I told the kitten. “Be a good kitty. Share.”
The kitten’s idea of sharing was to settle into the middle of the rug and begin cleaning her private parts. I decided parenting was overrated and joined my husband in front of the TV.
The kitten didn’t move for the next four hours. Our entering the kitchen didn’t deter her in the least, and she went so far as to let us step over and around her as we fumbled through trying to cook and set the table.
My husband made the mistake of standing on the carpet as he stirred something at the stove.
A rumble emanated from deep in the kitten’s throat.
“I’d move if I were you,” I told him.
“Why?” he asked.
The kitten walked over and glared at the portion of his shoe on the mat.
“You’re on somebody’s turf,” I said.
He looked down at the scowling kitten. “I pay the mortgage,” he said. “If I want to stand on my new carpet, in my kitchen, no cat is going to stop me.”
I shrugged and went back to rinsing off lettuce.
The kitten nudged his ankle with her head. When subtlety didn’t work, she went for an all out head-butt.
“Hey, cut that out,” said my husband.
The kitten whipped out her claws and targeted his sock, which unfortunately had his foot in it at the time.
“Ow. Hey. OW!” He hopped off the rug.
“Us, zero. Cats, 391,” I said. My husband glared at me.
The cat moped in the doorway, watching the kitten. But older and wiser, she bided her time.
At dinnertime, the cat sashayed over and planted herself in front of the kitten’s dish. The kitten sat up, alarmed. The cat smiled, and then sank her head deep into the kitten’s food.
“Rowr, rowr, psst!” yelled the kitten. My husband and I came into the kitchen. The kitten stared accusingly at the cat. “Mrow, mow, mow!”
“Well, go get your food then,” I said.
The cat hummed as she patrolled the perimeter of the rug.
The kitten bit her lip and lay back down.
The cat wasn’t through. She started splashing in the water dish. Hear the water? When is the last time you went the bathroom? Ho, hum. Splash, splash. I love playing in the runny water.
The kitten crossed her legs. She looked worried.
Splish-splash. Splish-splash. Oh, how I love the runny, full, wet, drippy water.
The kitten turned a deep shade of purple as she held her breath. Unable to bear it any longer, she tore off the carpet toward the litter box. Doing her business in record time, she raced back to the mat, coming to a dismayed stop at the edge.
The cat squatted at the corner of the rug, flipping a tassel back and forth. “Do you mind?” she asked the kitten. “I own this rug now.”
Me, I’m fed up. It’s impossible to be in the kitchen with territorial cats nipping at my heels, and both cats toying alternatively with starvation and kidney explosion so as not to lose their claim on the rug.
“We have to take action,” I tell my husband.
He sighs. “You’re right. We’ve spoiled them. But with hard work and commitment on our part, I’m sure we can do better.”
I stare at him. “What?”
He stares back. “Weren’t you going to lecture me that we need to find new ways of reward and discipline, so as to create a more fair, harmonious environment where we all learn a lesson about love and sharing?”
“Uh, no. I was going to suggest we go buy two small, crappy rugs for the hall and let them duke it out there.”
He thought for a moment. “Okay, that’s good too.”
Too bad we don’t have kids. We’d make great parents.
Source: BeliefNet Inspiration, Chicken Soup for the Soul