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The cat's out of the bag

May 27, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

I'm sorry about this. I am really, truly sorry. No one hates "What my pet did last night" columns more than I do. I understand that they are sophomoric, tedious and virtually unreadable. So if you wish to move on to some story about how planes on the Hagerstown-Pittsburgh connection are being downsized to crop dusters that do loop-de-loops en route, I will understand.

But writing is my psychiatrist's couch and when something pains me, it is the only vehicle I have for cleansing my soul, if any.

It all began (dream sequence) about two weeks ago when the four-footed annoyance named Jake Biscuit began to develop a lively interest in something that was underneath the house. I hesitate to comment on Jake's mental configuration because I do not wish to get sued by a dog, but suffice it to say that Jake has a lot of "imaginary friends."

Or imaginary enemies, I should say. He's always wanting to kill things that don't exist, so I didn't pay his actions much mind. But his opinion was unfortunately validated about a week later when a little tyke who had just gotten off the school bus came up to me and said, Ralph Wiggum style, "Mister, your back porch is mewing."

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And sure enough it was, although mewing is too kind a term. Bellowing is more like it. RowRowRow, sort of like an ambulance.

At first I ignored it, sort of the way you ignore an unfamiliar sound coming from your car engine, hoping it will go away. It didn't. It was a cat and it wasn't going anywhere.

All cats that have tried to adopt us in the past have been stupid. They have either nuzzled up to young Alexa (bad) or myself (worse), acts that for differing reasons have turned out to be poor career decisions.

But this cat knew instinctively that it is the Doctor Doolittle in High Heels who calls the shots around our house, and when she called him, he immediately came out from underneath the porch and jumped into her arms.

Ten seconds later, I - with head down and shoulders sagging - was sent out for cat food.

The animal has the most amazing mane of long, flowing white hair, so I said "Look, if we're going to keep him, I am going to insist that we name him Peter Gammons."

'Course, the dog probably had a better chance of knowing who the great baseball analyst Peter Gammons is (if you've never seen him, think Andrew Jackson) than the two females in the house, so we compromised. With all that white fur, and because we were dining on fried chicken that night, we finally settled on calling him Colonel Sanders. Kind of cosmic, Andrea said.

A stray kitten that has been both fed and named is all but a family member, but I still had an ace up my sleeve, the aforementioned Jake Biscuit. I saw no way he would be content to play second fiddle to some glorified dust mop, and he held the deciding vote. If they didn't get along, the cat would have to go.

The next day, Andrea took the Colonel to the vet. It depressed me further when she came back enthusiastic.

"He's four months old, and get this, the vet thinks he's mostly Himalayan."

"Mostly which?"

"Himalayan. It's a breed of cat."

"Oh come on, who's going to dump a Himalayan? It's not like I've been seeing a lot of Sherpas hanging out at Sheetz."

"And everyone just loved him. A couple people wanted to buy him."

"WHAT? They wanted to ... And you didn't ... And we still have ... How much did they offer?"

"Oh I don't know, they just said 'how much do you want for him,' and..."

At this point, I had fainted dead away on the kitchen floor, so the rest of her comment is lost to the ages.

Worse, the stupid dog was of absolutely no assistance whatsoever. The one time I wanted him to be a jerk, and it turns out he loves the cat, too.

I swear, he wanted to show off. He made us throw his ball, and then he'd practically jump up out of his skin in front of the cat all hyper and ecstatic like. "Look at me! I can fetch the ball! Did you see me? Did you see? I can fetch the ball!"

Entirely unimpressed, the Colonel just sat there stone-faced and then cast a slow, baleful glance up at Andrea, silently asking if this embarrassing creature made a habit of sacrificing his dignity through such shameful displays. Which, of course, he does.

I haven't had a cat since the late Bubba, but it looks as if I have one now. When I wake up or get home, the cat is yowling to be fed and the dog is whining to go out and if I pet one the other gets jealous and life just keeps getting more complicated. So if you have a pet bird you're tired of, please don't dump it in my neighborhood.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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