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Somehow my granddaughter who lives with us managed to talk us into getting, of all things, a cat. I’ve never been a big cat fan, but like most other things in life, it is what it is. The cat’s name is Evy and it’s been a member of our family for almost a year.

There are all sorts of things that one forgets about having a cat in the house, like how much it likes sharpening its claws by sinking them into stuff like chairs, carpets, leather sofas, etc. Like all pets cats like attention and have a variety of ways to get it, like laying on your keyboard while you’re in the midst of something important like online shopping and end up having to cancel an order that the cat stepped on.

The downside of cats is that they really don’t have much sense of obedience. Small things like teaching them to come when you call, sit, stop, etc., are not in a cat’s vocabulary. Thus I favor dogs over cats because they come when you call, sit and stay when you want them to, and they are much more attentive to your needs and desires. Take my word, when you holler at a cat it might look at you, but unlike a dog, rather than cease what it’s doing it might give you a “What’s wrong with you?” coupled with a quit bothering me attitude.

Cats are more acrobatic than dogs, their ability to jump 10 times their height, like from the kitchen floor to the countertop, or jump from great heights and land on their feet can leave one rather surprised. As well they’re quieter than dogs, as they seem to appear out of nowhere, like when you’re sitting on the couch and the dang thing slithers up behind you, then jumps on your tummy and takes away your breath.

This cat likes to be at our eye level. When you’re sitting at the table it climbs up and lies in front of you, or around 3 a.m. it will get up on the bed and head-butt you on the nose. Of course, at that time of day I’m rather crotchety but rather than tossing her against the wall I just give a pet, which is not a good idea.

It has taken a few months, and interrupted sleep, but I think we’ve finally figured each other out. I’ve made it a point to befriend her, and there are still occasions when she draws blood from me but I think we’re close to signing a peaceful living arrangement. Like all kittens/puppies, they like to scratch and bite everything, even the hands that pet them. The difference between cats and dogs is cats have real claws, sharp teeth and no wires connected to the concept of the words no or stop. Therefore I had to instill this sense with a modicum of physical engagement. This involves the willingness to forgive and keep petting, a significant number of bloody scratches on one’s hands and forearms and the ability to toss the cat on the floor without causing damage. My coffee klatchers occasionally remark, “Look at all those new scabs. Dan must have been petting the cat again, huh?”

I’m happy to report that as I type this our relationship has improved to just one small scab on the back of my right hand. Now I need to see if I can get her to quit head butting me at 3 a.m. because when a cat slithers up on you while you’re sleeping, then butts its head into your nose while simultaneously lying down covering your mouth and nose in fur it becomes rather difficult to continue your much desired slumber.

I remember many moons ago I asked my dad what made a good parent and he quickly responded “patience, and good luck with it” and the same seems to apply to cats. Wish me luck.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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