Thursday, September 13, 2012
I'm not sure how we got here. This will sound terrible coming from the wife of a vet but I'm one who has long said I believe cats belong in barns or feed stores. This is not because I don't like cats. I do. It's simply because they spend 23 of every 24 hours on something other than the floor. So dirty kitty litter paws are walking on the things we touch and the surfaces we eat from. And then there's all that hair. She only got into our house because I killed Will's Beta fish and the brevity between my admission and the words, "Then can I have a cat?" tumbling from behind his quivering lower lip as he stood holding his handmade "funerol" programs left me both fascinated and, most unfortunately, cornered by his shrewdness. I said, "We'll see." To which he replied, "That means no." I think we both knew it really meant yes.
A few days later, Shawn called from work and said a lady had brought in a litter of kittens she was trying to give away. I caved. Will could have his kitten he'd been begging for for years, but there were rules.
1. It was only allowed upstairs during the day when it was being supervised. Otherwise, behind the closed door of the lower level of the house was to be its domain.
2. It was not allowed on any furniture while upstairs and absolutely, positively was it ever to be allowed on the kitchen counters or the table.
3. It was to catch every mouse that came into our house. We live on a farm surrounded by pasture. Mice are inevitable. And the cat had to earn its keep.
4. I would not clean up not one single puked up fur ball.
Four simple rules.
A year-and-a-half later,
1. About living downstairs, Harper is only allowed to go to the lower level of the house to eat. Otherwise, her people miss her cuteness, her purrs, her playfulness, her sweetness. If the door to the lower level is closed, we make sure she is on the same side of it as we are. She sleeps in the mail basket. Even after we missed paying our electric bill last month because it got shuffled to the bottom of the basket after one of her deep-sleep tumbles from the window sill that take the whole basket with her.
2. About being on the furniture, she has ruined my leather couch. The cushions are covered with scratches. Her favorite sunbeam spots are the chair or desktop in Caelan's room or the corner of Will's bed. At night she sleeps on Will's bed until 5 a.m. when she decides Shawn and I have had a full night's sleep (regardless of what time we went to bed). She is still not allowed on the kitchen counters or table, although during meals she does sit on the empty chair next to Shawn with her front paws on the edge of the table.
3. About her pest control responsibilities, she's pals with the mice. Caelan went downstairs one day and she was playing with one. I had witnessed her doing this myself more than once. This time he watched as she let the mouse go, it ran 1/2 way up the wall (wood car siding with lots of grooves for little claws to dig into) and then ran back down and right back to Harper. Shawn says the mouse must have been stunned and backtracking was completely unintintional. I like the cartoon feel to the scene and it makes for a better story to say the mouse was playing with Harper. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for the mouse, Caelan had a broom in his hand.
4. About puked up hairballs, I have yet to see one. To my knowledge, there hasn't been one. I'm barely hanging on here to my status as the rule maker. I wonder if she's torturing me by making me wonder when she'll take complete control or if she's a cat full of grace, allowing me to retain a little bit of dignity. As I look next to me right now and see her sleeping in her mail basket, where she stays while I'm on the computer occasionally stretching her paw out toward me and mewing, I like to believe it's the latter.