I sometimes tell people my wife and the cats came as a package deal. I was not much of a cat person before Vivian and I were married. Even then, she only had one cat, a white and black one named Big Kitty. He was aptly named.
She used to drive around with Big Kitty perched on the back of the car seat. He’d sit there and survey the corn fields and barns they passed. After I came along, he switched to my head. In the evenings, watching television, he would spread out on my head with his legs hanging down in front of my ears. That was pretty much my introduction to living with a cat.
Since then, we’ve had many cats. From one with Big Kitty, the number has at times expanded to seven or eight. Today, the two we have, Skittles and Ozrow, are plenty. I’ve learned to live with them and even enjoy them, although they mostly ignore me in favor of Vivian. They seem to know she is a life-long cat person.
We have had a couple of cats that liked me enough to lay in my lap. They came to us as adults, though. Kittens seem to grow up favoring Vivian. If they do favor me, they switch later on. That is the way Skittles turned out. She was my lap pet as a kitten but now only goes to Vivian.
When I was growing up, we had cats around, but they were not pets. They were barn cats that had to fend for themselves. The number would increase with kittens and decrease without us ever knowing the cause.
Most of them were at least half wild and would normally run when we went to the barn.
A few did come up around the house and a few would let me pet them.
We never bought food for those cats. Once in a while I might toss one a corner of a biscuit, but for the most part table scraps were reserved for the dogs. In my grandfather’s opinion, cats did not rate high enough to merit any special attention. Neither dogs or cats were allowed in the house.
I sometimes try to tell Ozrow and Skittles how fortunate they are to live in a place like they do. Not only do they get bottomless food bowls and warm places to sleep, they get lots of attention.
When I mention living in the barn, Ozrow kind of perks up as if he is thinking that would be a grand adventure. Of course, if he had to try it, he’d last about 20 minutes. He’d be back at the door to the house faster than a kid camping in the back yard when rain began to fall.
Tales of poor, homeless cats have no meaning to Skittles and Ozrow. They grew up in luxury and can’t imagine any other life. Being hungry, cold and wet don’t figure into their way of living. They have never had to scrounge for a meal. They don’t even sleep on the hard floor because they have soft places to snooze on.
I had to get educated about cats and probably still don’t know as much as I should.
If I was smart, I probably wouldn’t be trying to impress our two with stories about living in a barn.