Personally Yours
Published in

Personally Yours

The Cat’s Got His (Own) Tongue

The Record, 1965

Well, what happened next?” Scotty wanted to know. “I think they cut off the end of your column,” Terry was sure. “Why didn’t you tell about Petey?” David felt cheated. At last I had hit on a column subject the boys could all appreciate … since it was about our cats and not about our boys!

Well fellers, Petey, as I said, is a cat of a different color, also another story. Here it is. It all began last November when Petey, a six week old gray and white kitten, came to live at the Flander house where there was already one large dog, one parakeet and six goldfish. You might think that with all these other animals firmly entrenched in the household that one small kitten might feel, to say the least, a little out of things.

But not Petey! He walked right in and took over. When he wants something he asks for it in a surprisingly loud voice. He doesn’t just meow, the way all the rest of our cats did. He really does talk in a variety of tones and sounds. All loud! Kind of funny when you think that it was our BIRD we expected to learn our language! At that, Max (the parakeet) is getting pretty noisy, himself. He doesn’t exactly say anything we can understand but it is obvious from the racket he makes when David comes in his room that he is saying hello.

Petey says hello, too. As soon as he hears one of the family approach, his feet hit the floor and he bounds out to the door. Yow! He shouts once. But when he is hungry (which is often at five in the morning) he stations himself in the hall between our room and David’s and shouts loudly. Nobody actually gets up to feed him at that hour but David will take him into his bed to keep him quiet.

When Petey wants to get back in the house, he usually sets up a racket in an entirely different tone right outside the door. If he doesn’t get results he howls outside David’s window.

Since, unlike most kittens, Petey is not afraid of Pamper, the dog, he simply baffles her. Pamper will approach Petey who simply turn his back on her and stays firm. If Pamper gets close enough she licks Petey’s back. If Petey gets tired of getting soaking wet, he gets on a table in the living room out of Pamper’s reach.

Petey doesn’t try to sleep on our bed anymore and I think that may be because he can take a hint. I started closing our door at night to keep him out (well, how would you like a little kitten to walk all over you at three in the morning?). Now, though I no longer shut the door, he doesn’t pass the threshold unless invited. Petey seems to tolerate all the handling and petting he gets but he can take it or leave it.

Once in awhile, though, I have noticed that he gets pretty miffed if everyone leaves HIM. Sunday the boys and Murff left the living room where they’d all been ensconced for quite awhile. And from the bedroom where I was reading I could hear quite some different sounds.

It was Petey, clearly upset by being suddenly alone! Petey has a friend, too, a big red homeless cat with half a tail who is probably pregnant. This cat has a dish of food each day at our house along with Petey.

To get the food, he has to suffer Petey who is always jumping all over him, playing like a kitten. Sometimes the red cat “plays back” and once I saw it give Petey one swift blow with its paw knocking him right off our porch. Petey is feisty and noisy and determined and demanding and I wonder sometimes, who has shaped whose personality. For how would a quiet, unassuming, fearful, undemanding kitten get along in our house? Murff thinks he learned how to talk to himself in self-preservation!

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