The Cat Who…Friday Follies

Ah…here it is again…Friday.  My day to take myself less seriously, and…in addition to Twitter Friday Follows, add a little twitter…of nonsense about myself…with  Friday Follies.

Maybe some of you have read the “The Cat Who…” mystery series by Lillian Jackson Braun.  I was attracted to them because two of the main characters are cats.  The books are light reading and good for those occasional afternoon or evenings when nothing else will do but an escape into a little fun and fantasy.

Her two main cat characters reside in “the upper North Country” with their middle-aged “cat staffer” who is a journalist.   The author doesn’t refer to him as a “cat staffer”, but I can’t help myself.  After reading some of the books in this series, it’s obvious this journalist is nearly as well trained as I am.  And it simply reinforces my belief that… dogs have owners, and cats have staff.

In this series, his cats, Koko and YumYum, help him solve mysteries.  They communicate clues…in their very special ways…which they expect the journalist, Quill, to decipher. 

What I find especially interesting, though, is how well trained Koko and Yum Yum have their “staffer”, Quill.  As you read the series, it becomes apparent they eat only the best food…deli cuts and fresh meat in broth…very high end.  And…what they’re willing to eat on any given day remains a mystery that they expect Quill to solve.

All of this reminds me clearly why I consider myself a cat staffer and not a cat owner.  Like the cats in this series, my cats, Princess and Hope,  want it to remain a mystery exactly what they’re willing to consider eating for their breakfast and dinner treats.  It is a mystery they expect me to solve…by offering very small portions of various delicacies…until they decide “All right…yes…I believe this will do for the moment.”

They both talk to me…No, they don’t talk with me…because they don’t for one minute think that I am capable of understanding them without clear, unequivocal direction that they provide. 

They tell me when they’re ready to play…even if it is 3 AM…and when they’re ready for a nap (the Do Not Disturb sign is posted with unmistakable clarity)…and when they want to be brushed (not as often as their staffer would like).

Unlike a dog, they expect me to respond.  And…when I don’t, they talk to me about their expectations.  They jump on the kitchen counter…not part of their “approved” territory to deliver their message…or into the center of the fern, tilting precariously to be sure to get my attention. 

Before I get carried away here in describing what might be considered the negative side of their communication style, let me add its positive points. 

Cats read you.  They know when you’re having a bad day…or a bad moment.  Dogs want to shower you with affection…all the time.  Cats are much more discriminating.  They withhold affection…until or unless they know you are desperate. 

If you “ask them” to curl up on your lap…they won’t.  However, if you’re obviously despondent…or overly contemplative…they just… “show up.”  Suddenly, you’ve got a purring furball to contend with…something to distract you, take your mind away from whatever nagging thoughts were bothering you.  And..yes…they expect you to respond.

My cats are not certain I’m capable of earning a living on my own (or providing the delicacies they so richly deserve), and tend to keep a close eye on my work.  They spend a major portion of the day in the office with me, checking the monitor, the printer, and the keyboard.  They have two cushions they’ve designated for “Catastrophe Supervision”…one in a  nearby chair and one on the desk. 

Should I spend more than a few minutes out of the office grabbing a quick cup of coffee, or a snack, they don’t hesitate to come along to talk to me…telling me either “OK, we can take a play break…I have the string”…or…”Hey dudette, let’s…like…get back at it here…you need to be done in time to fix my dinner treat…once I decide what it is.”

If I’m gone for a few hours, or the major portion of the day, they greet me at the door when I come home.  Unlike a dog, however, they don’t wag their tails to joyfully tell me how glad they are to see me.  Instead, they carefully sniff everything that comes in the door with me…or just my clothing if I don’t bring anything else in…and then…they decide…if I deserve any further attention.  Which I don’t…unless I have a special treat that is clearly just for them.

Once you understand you’re a cat staffer…the relationship really can develop.  If, however, you’re resistant…and think you’re in out!  In the end, there will be no mystery about that. 

There will, however, always be plenty of mystery and intrigue in the relationship.


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