Dog per­son can re­cant on cats

This dot­ing dog mother and the house­hold were chal­lenged un­ex­pect­edly last week when home­less kit­tens bar­reled out of the shrub­bery, clearly thin and hun­gry.

The Covington News - - Opinion - Bar­bara Mor­gan Bar­bara Mor­gan is a res­i­dent of Cov­ing­ton with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state govern­ment and pol­i­tics. Her col­umn ap­pears on Fri­days.

“Cats,” one of Broad­way’s long­est-run­ning mu­si­cals, was play­ing at the Fox The­atre some years ago. Friends pro­posed a night out, and I ac­cepted, de­spite not feel­ing even the least bit warm and fuzzy to­ward the sub­ject cats, to put it mildly. Not long into it, I walked out. A stage full of hu­man be­ings crawl­ing about on all fours in cat cos­tumes just didn’t cut it, gave me hee­bie-jee­bies, in fact.

That’s how deep my aver­sion to fe­lines was. Early on, I adopted my mom’s dis­like of the crea­tures. She couldn’t stand for one to brush up against her legs, and nei­ther could I. Touch one with my hand? Never! Hold one in my lap? Get out!

I am a bone-ified dog per­son, and I’ll go so far as to say that hav­ing dogs changed me for the bet­ter. When we lived on acreage in So­cial Cir­cle, we acquired a pair of Ger­man shep­herds, bum­bling brother Bubba and ea­gerto-be-loved sis­ter Brandy. They taught me pa­tience that I didn’t then pos­sess, the wis­dom and ne­ces­sity of for­giv­ing quickly, how to give and re­ceive love un­con­di­tion­ally, and the joy of giv­ing care to word­less crea­tures that needed what I could pro­vide. My heart was filled to over­flow­ing with what I felt for those dogs and broke when they died.

Sonny, a 6-month-old border col­lie res­cued from the Newton County shel­ter, came af­ter Bubba and Brandy. He’s a char­ac­ter and as smart as the breed is known to be. They say shel­ter pets are the best of all be­cause they come into your home know­ing what their fate might have been, thus mak­ing them the most lov­ing and re­spon­sive of an­i­mals. Res­cu­ing an an­i­mal just does a heart good.

This dot­ing dog mother and the house­hold were chal­lenged un­ex­pect­edly last week when home­less kit­ten sis­ters bar­reled out of the shrub­bery, clearly thin and hun­gry. First thought: “This is not hap­pen­ing.” Sec­ond thought: We can’t let them dart into the street or let an overea­ger Sonny do harm. But these were kit­tens, and he was clearly in­trigued, but mys­ti­fied. Third thought: We can at least give them some­thing to eat. So we poured milk into a saucer on the side porch and pre­pared a box cush­ioned with an old towel for shel­ter.

Bob’s in­ner cat per­son sur­faced. He fell for the lit­tle things, the smaller one char­coal-col­ored all over; the larger one, also gray, ex­hibit­ing a pat­tern like smoke drift­ing on the wind. He was off to the store the next day for ac­tual cat food, and played with them on the porch. Sonny and I re­mained watch­ful and wary. “This is not hap­pen­ing,” we said to each other. For an in­creas­ing num­ber of min­utes ev­ery day, Bob brought them into the house, where they clearly wanted to be. We didn’t doubt they’d had hu­man con­tact be­fore. They in­ves­ti­gated ev­ery nook and cranny in ev­ery room, found hid­ing places un­der the ta­bles, jumped as if winged from chair to chair, and charged up and down the stairs. They sounded like the Rus­sian cavalry over our heads.

The un­ex­pected hap­pened. I found my­self one night hold­ing one of them on the couch, while Bob cra­dled the other one in his arms, as we would do ev­ery night there­after. Their fur was like vel­vet, and once set­tled in our arms, they purred con­tent­edly, then dropped off to sleep. Their pres­ence was grow­ing on me. I feared them not. Their in­quis­i­tive lit­tle faces peered into mine; we were nose to nose. They rested in my arms, and I held them as if it were the most nat­u­ral thing in the world, and this from a per­son who’d usu­ally cross the street to avoid a cat. Sonny slum­bered peace­fully be­side us, even al­low­ing one to curl up into his belly and snooze along with him. Will they stay or must they go? The an­swer gets harder ev­ery day.

Friends with a farm town have agreed to take them, and I’m sure they’ll thrive there. We’re torn, but Sonny would be just as happy not to have the com­pe­ti­tion for our af­fec­tion. But I must say this: Once again, an­i­mals have changed me. The kit­ties pushed my en­ve­lope, and the en­ve­lope gave way.

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