Tuesday, February 22, 2011

There's a cat in my house !

     I'm really not a fan of cats.  If made to choose between cats and dogs, I have always chosen dogs.  There is a reason that they are called man's best friend.  My experience with dogs has been that they are good listeners, they come when called, you can teach them tricks, and they love when you show them affection.  The line between master and pet is never blurred with a dog.  My opinion on cats, however, was entirely different.  They seemed to have little use for people, they came and went as they pleased, they were high maintenance and were ornery, and I have seen many instances where the cat seemed to be the owner and the person the pet.  I had little interest in becoming a cat owner or of letting a cat own me, plus I have an allergy, so I was surprised with the request that came from my family, to take one in.

Nibbler at 6 weeks
A friend's cat in the next town bore a litter, and the couple had many cats to get rid of.  My brother Ace took two of the girls in (sucker), but the couple was struggling to get rid of the others.  My entire family seemed to be on the "pro cat" side, but I am, after all, the man of the house, so no cat was coming in here without my say so.  There were tears and pleas and a pretty cute campaign by Nolan that consisted of putting "cute" cat pictures in everything I owned for about a week, but I wasn't moved.  You see, I'm really not a fan of cats.  Finally, one night at dinner, when the entire family was convinced that there was no way I was going to let a cat in, I quietly instructed my wife to call the couple and see if they still had any cats.  There are a few things I have learned about parenting in my lifetime, one is to stay away from absolutes (You'll never get a later bedtime and such) and the second is to always keep your offspring guessing.  It makes life more interesting.  I learned that one from my Dad. A day or two later, we connected with the couple, and took the last cat they had, and that is how Nibbler came into my house.

     From the onset I could tell that Nibbler was different from the "regular" variety of cats I had known.  In spite of my hard stares and indifference paid to the feline, she insisted on interacting with me. We had just returned from vacation and I was sporting a week old beard (see Of Beards and Men).  Each morning as I sat at the computer, Nibbler would insist on jumping in my lap, and rubbing her face on my beard, both sides for several minutes.

Nibbler practicing her biting.
 I would have to get up and wash it immediately after, to avoid breaking out, but she was the biggest fan of the beard.  She was the only one who missed it when I shaved it off. Having owned dogs, I really didn't know how to interact with a cat either.  I'd wrestle with her, and swat at her, and she, in return, would bite and scratch me.  In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good thing to teach the cat to "play" that way. Be forewarned if you enter my house and she wants to play.  Remember I was never a "cat" parent before, and I'm really not a fan of cats.  I did notice that the cat has good instincts, one of which was to always take the high ground. She quickly progressed from jumping onto tables (where we eat), to counters (where we prepare food) and finally took over the top of the fridge.  One day I left the coat closet open and Nibbler climbed up the shelves to the top and into the false ceiling over the laundry room.  I reentered the room just in time to see gravity taking it's toll and Nibbler come sailing down riding a fiberglass tile, looking amazingly like the Green Goblin in the Spiderman cartoons.  It scares me to think of what she is practicing that trick for. 
I think this picture of her (the one on the right) captures her evil scheming self pretty well.  I've seen those Omen movies, and this cat still scares me more.  Is it accidental that she walks between my legs each morning as I walk down the stairs? I don't think so, she has plans.  Some day my death certificate will read (in error) "accidental death" when it should read "death by cat".  Think I am kidding?  Then why did she secure her spot in the house by curing my allergy?  Each morning she'd rub my face and expose me to a little cat dander, each afternoon she'd scratch me, and inject me with more, and each night she'd snuggle up on my lap, looking innocent but secretly giving me my last dose.  A few months later, I was no longer allergic, and had lost my best argument for the cat's removal.  I had to admit, it was quite the plan, and remember I'm really not a fan of cats.  

     Then there's the trying to be cute all the time thing. No box or bag comes into this house un-inspected, no matter how small it is.  She crawls in and pops her head out and looks around all cutey-like.  It is pretty amazing the places that she can get into. I don't know if it is the way she is designed, or just an evil trick, but she can even crawl into the small desk drawer at my wife's desk.  She'll pull it open to get a pencil and there will be the cat.  Thank God, I work in the garage, because that would freak me out.
She even practices her "coming out of the chest, like in Alien" trick sometimes.  See the picture to the left.  Scary, isn't it?  She has all kinds of things she has fooled the others with.  She reaches under the door to the bathroom to play while you are in there.  She drinks from the tap if you leave it running.  She curls up completely in a ball, and buries her head so it just looks like a circle of fur.  She'll run upstairs when you go to sleep and hide under the bed and swat at your legs.  She'll burrow under piles of clothes in the laundry room, she'll peek out of the window there when we are in the hot tub, and she'll climb on top of the piano and hide behind the pictures.  My wife is training her to fetch currently, but I am teaching her to play the piano.  I know you are laughing now, but admit it, which one will be more impressive when you come over for cocktails, Nibbler fetching a ball, or Nibbler doing the Peanuts theme on the piano?  Thought so.  I haven't figured out yet, how it works into her scheme, but she definitely knows how to turn on our I-Pod player that sits in the dining room too. I thought at first she was just stepping on the button accidentally, but that doesn't explain how she does it repetitively after you turn it off.  I still had my doubts until a few weeks ago when Dan had a friend over and he left his guitar in the dining room.  I first heard the radio go on, and shortly thereafter, I heard Nibbler strumming the guitar strings!  That's just like that cat, she complains about her piano training, but then wants to play guitar.  Cats!  

     I really should start to finish this blog, as it is getting dark, and I don't trust living with animals that don't
 need light to see.  She freaks me out like that at night sometimes too.  I suspect that Nibbler will be a recurring character in the blogs, whether I want her here or not.  Just in case, I have taught her to pack herself really small, so she'll be cheaper to ship if I can ever get rid of her.  I doubt it will ever happen as my family loves her, but remember, I'm really not a fan of cats.


hmphalen@yahoo.com said...


Daphne Mays said...

This definitely is a hilarious post, Bill! Nibbler sounds like a REAL cat, not one of the snooty ones that own most people. I do love cats when they are feisty and belong to other people. Even if I could breathe in their presence, I don't know if I could get used to the counter surfing thing though. I'll enjoy the cat antics from afar! She's a pretty one too, BTW!

kathleen minnich said...

Well, I love cats and yours is cute. Did you ever blog about your stupid dog got hit? OMG that story rolls me. Good job on this. I think you missed your calling Dave Berry!

torcon said...

Bill, I share your pain! My family conspired (or catspired) against me to add - not one - but TWO felines to our family. However, despite your non-feelings toward your cat - I found that I've grown to like her solely based on her name. I'm a sucker for good branding and "Nibbler" is too darn cute a name not to love!