Dogs Have Owners, Cats Have Staff

Don’t you love that expression? If you live with a cat, you know what I’m talking about.

I grew up with cats, though a stray dog or two crossed my path now and then. I once shared my cramped twin bed with an Irish Setter for a week  before we located the dog’s owner. I was 12 at the time. Though I knew we couldn’t keep him, I burst into tears when we had to let him go.

I love all animals, but in my years of renting, living with cats made more sense. The number of cats in residence fluctuates, since word gets out; before you know it you’ve got six cat bowls lined up on the kitchen counter.

The current count is one husband, two teenage boys and three felines.

Okay, I strung that sentence together for the sake of diplomacy. The felines run the place and the rest of us fall in line.

Here’s the current line up:

Lindy-Lu is our senior feline. We adopted her from our local Humane Society when she was about three for my son’s 8th birthday. My son turns 18 this June. Lindy is mellow and sweet and loves to be near us, but she never sits on our laps.

lindy in the garden

Lindy in the Garden

She enjoys sleeping next to my pillow at night, or draped across the arm of the sofa. Lindy-Lu takes her cat naps at the foot of our bed or in the stream of sun on the living room floor, but when she’s ready to hunker down for a long sleep, she disappears into the bedroom closet for a long snooze. I’m careful to always keep the door cracked.

lindy on the bench

Lindy Practicing her Adorable Pose

Lindy sunbathing

Sunbathing on the bed

Slinky is our mystery cat. She’s borderline feral, and about 90% hard of hearing. She used to bite when startled and will take a swing at you if your hand moves in a suspicious manner.


Pet me…or else

It took a long time to coax her indoors, but after a year of living in a shelter in our side yard, she came to appreciate the comforts of indoor living. She now spends most of her time asleep on my desk.

slinky in front of computer

Slinky does her neck exercises in front of the monitor

slinky in her bed

Slinky color-coordinates with her bed

Slinky is afraid of Lindy, poor little thing, but stands up to Mouse, even though he’s younger and twice her size. Slinky is a petite six pounds while Mouse weighs a whopping 16 pounds.

Mouse has an official home, but he doesn’t let on. He takes all his meals at our house, sleeps on our beds and generally makes himself comfortable.

Mouse in the garden

Mouse in the garden

mouse with catnip

Mouse enjoys his catnip toy

He’s charmingly adorable. Mouse lives for treats, so I’m partly to blame for his expanded waistline. He collects kitty snacks from others as well, including my sister on her frequent visits.


Mouse lends moral support around homework time

Mouse has many admirers, and would probably be insufferable if he were a man and not a cat. He assumes everyone loves him, and frankly why wouldn’t they? If I could change one thing about him, it would be his stealthy hunting skills. He loves the game of catch and release.

This brings me to our fourth creature-in-residence, the elusive and cunning Mr. Rat.  One of my boys noticed an overly attentive Lindy parked near the entertainment center this morning. After they left for school, Lindy backed away and Mouse took over. Here was my chance to show Mr. Rat the door.

mouse hunts the rat

Mouse on the alert; Lindy strolls past the barricade


I gathered boxes, boards, baskets and whatever I could get my hands on, then rolled up the carpet to make a barricade. I opened the door wide to the fresh air and knew I  was ready. Meanwhile, Mouse single-mindedly entered and exited all the cabinet compartments, determined to find his prey. I mentally thanked him for ‘directions’ before putting him in one of the bedrooms.

It was time to make my move. Mr. Rat made a run for it. I stomped my foot hoping to startle him toward the door. He ran toward some potted plants instead and then disappeared right before my eyes. How can this be!!!

I stood there dumbstruck. How could a six-inch rat disappear so quickly?

For the record, I’m blaming it on the vertigo. How else to explain his disappearance.

Three different live traps and two direct interventions later, the score remains disproportionately in the rats favor. That’s what I get for giving Mr. Rat a name. Like all the stray cats, he probably assumes that he too is welcome to stay.