by Bill Nokes
(Chetco Cove, OR)
When I was a young lad, lo those many years ago, I was a thoroughly "Dog" person. Still am mostly, but my views have become more ecumenical as time has gone by. As a pre-teen, I was one of those people who wholly believes in one view, and no other was worthy of anything other than deprecation. I had my dogs "Jipper" and later "Rusty" to whom I was so loyal, that any mention of the virtues of a cat were solely a cause for scorn. There was a chink in the logs of my anti-cat fortress, in that I, as everyone, enjoyed kittens. The only negative of kittens was that they inevitably became Cats.
My sister with whom I was highly competitive, was allowed to bring a kitten into the family. I'm sure to this day, she only chose a cat because I loved dogs. We introduced it to my dog Rusty by holding its tiny body, and letting the dog sniff it from one end to the other. The kitten was too small to take any offense, and put up with its examination. After that, the kitten and dog got along fine. Frequently, Rusty would raise his head to watch the kitten attack his tail. He would then start wagging it which got the kitten into a frenzy. Rusty never minded, and seemed to like the diversion. He was not ready to let this feline intrude on his bed with him, and would make all sorts of threatening sounds to which the kitty acquiesced. If Rusty was outside, you would see the feline, curled up luxuriously in the dog's bed, not leaving until it was sure Rusty had seen it in his bed. Since the cat was allowed on the furniture and the dog was not, I'm sure the dog bed issue was strictly a control thing.
I'm not sure what my sister did with her cat, but shortly after it was found trapped in her closet with all her clothes shredded, it was no longer in the family. No other cats entered my life zone until at age 21, I married, and we built a house on land purchased from my grandfather on the edge of town. We acquired a small dog, and a coal black kitten. Perfect for a sub-suburban 1 acre home site. Both of the newcommers were rescued from errant litters being dispensed from cardboard boxes outside supermarkets, by little kids awaiting the return of their front teeth.
The puppy and kitty played together endlessly, even though it became obvious the cat was going to be substantially bigger then the dog. Eventually, "Lizzard" the dog reached about 10-12 lbs, while at last weighing, the cat whose original name is lost in antiquity, became "Monster" at 20 lbs. Monster was highly resourceful, and was always in the house when we came home, no matter where it was left. One evening, sitting on the couch, with Lizzard on my lap, watching TV, there came a rustle and swoosh, and down the chimney and into the fireplace came Monster. Lizzard was not surprised, as I guess she was used to it.
Monster and Lizzard continued to play together, but a neighbor's boxer dog also became a playmate. It was a hilarious site to see a little tiny dog, a cat twice its size and a 105# boxer running around taking turns chasing each other. They would all be in a chase line but who was chasing and who was being chased continually changed. A huge dog, and a little dog being chased by a cat is not an ordinary sight.
The cat was too big to shinny up the pine trees in front of the house, but could leap up a fair distance, and from there scramble to a limb. Once while watching the dog - cat circus, I saw Monster run from the boxer and leap up onto the tree. Before he could get to a limb, the boxer took hold of Monster's tail in its teeth, and just pulled. I'm sure he wasn't in pain. But after a few seconds of the tail pulling, the cat let go of the tree, spun around and landed on the dog's back, then sprang to the ground and off the three went again.
Monster was quite effective in detering encyclopedia salesmen. One evening a particularly pushy salesman was so frightened, he left with the contents of his sales bag spread out over the walk and lawn. Our front walk had quite a sweep to it necessitated by large pine trees whose limbs drooped in a line between the street and the house. The cat liked to climb onto a lower limb, which pushed the limb down to about eye level, and sit there, this was in a straight line between the front door and the street. As I literally pushed this salesman out the door, he turned and saw Monster's big cat eyes reflecting the porch light directly in front of him about 25 feet away. He screamed and threw his sample case relieving it of its contents. He managed to grab just the case, but did not stop for the contents and ran until out of sight.
See! Cats ain't so bad