Published in the Rains County Leader on January 10, 2017:
Kitty was a happy cat. She had food and water, two litter boxes, the run of the house, and two humans at her beck and call. With the exception of not being allowed to go outside as often as she would have liked, her life was perfect. No changes were needed, so no resolutions were necessary – and then I made THE VIDEO!
Anyone with a smart phone and a Facebook account has learned, either from the experience of friends or from first-hand experience, the heartache that can result from the indiscreet use of the little camera that is always at your fingertips. A few days before Christmas, I was reading in my favorite chair, and Kitty was rolling around on the floor at my feet. I’m not sure if she was simply enjoying herself or if she was flirting with me. Either way, she caught my attention, and I turned on the video camera.
For the next ninety seconds, she rolled around and acted cute. She ended up on her side where she grabbed her back feet with her front paws and began cleaning her toes. The problem came when the right rear foot refused to cooperate. It worked its way out of the circle and began scratching her ear. She grabbed the errant limb and bit it a couple of times before it escaped again. After repeating the cycle half a dozen times, she gave up, stretched out, and I turned off the camera. Of course, I had to post the results.
Kitty has quite a following, so her video received lots of views and quite a few comments. Surprisingly, the comments were not about how cute or funny she was but about her size. Here are a few examples along with my responses:
A second cousin: She’s gotten big!
Me: Yes, she’s probably over a yard long when she stretches out, and I’d guess she weighs close to 15 pounds.
Another second cousin: Are you sure you’re feeding that cat enough?!?
Me: She doesn’t eat that much, but since I don’t let her outside anymore, she doesn’t get much exercise!
One of David’s high school friends: She’s quite a porker.
Me: She looks heavier than she really is. Her fur is really thick and fluffy. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it!
A cousin: She looks about the size of my Lucy, who is rather “fluffy” also.
Being the insensitive pet parents that we are, David and I decided to weigh her. That in itself was an ordeal since it involved David weighing himself and then picking her up and weighing the two of them. I think I’ve mentioned how she feels about being picked up – she doesn’t like it at all. Then, we added insult to injury by announcing the results in her hearing – a whopping seventeen pounds – and we laughed!
I didn’t think much about it until Saturday night when I began a nightly ritual I have developed in an effort to encourage Kitty to be more of a lap cat. Once I was ready for bed, I went into the kitchen and poured eight treats into my left hand. I was a little surprised that Kitty didn’t follow me. Usually she rubs against my legs, or sometimes she stands up and puts her paws on the edge of the drawer in an effort to encourage me to hurry – but that night she was nowhere to be seen.
Sometimes she beats me back to the bed, but I was under the covers and leaning back against the headboard before she jumped up, sauntered up my legs, and sat down on my stomach. I put one of the treats into my right hand and held it out to her. She sniffed it and turned her head away. I held it between two fingers and touched it to her lips, but she ignored it. I offered it several more times and finally put it back in my left hand with the other treats and offered them all to her on my open palm. Up to this point she had been purring softly, but she had stopped, and I didn’t notice.
As I continued to wave the treats under her nose, she began to growl softly, deep in her throat. I teased her about being silly, and suddenly she spat and slapped my hand with her paw. Thankfully, she had her claws sheathed, but I finally got the message. I closed my hand over the offending treats and laid my fist down on the bedspread. She blinked her eyes slowly in satisfaction and lay down on my chest. She stayed there for about thirty seconds, allowing me to scratch her neck a little bit before standing up and strolling to the foot of the bed.
Just before she jumped to the floor, she glanced back over her shoulder with a look that said, You can’t tempt me to break my New Year’s resolution. Who knew Kitty had so much self control.
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos