Dec 022005

Rummaging through my hard drive yesterday (I never did find the file I was looking for), I discovered an old usenet thread I had saved where the group regulars were all talking about their cats. Since I know everyone loves hearing about how great my cat is, here’s what I had posted, back in mid-2000:

Never ask a cat owner to talk about their cats–it’s like asking a grandparent if they have any pictures of the grandkids. :)

Phurball on the couch

Phurball is a generic domestic shorthair, with dark gray tabby markings. I am biased but I think he is a very handsome fellow. We used to live in a neighborhood that had another gray tabby–my husband couldn’t tell them apart, but it was quite clear to me which was which. The OTHER cat was not nearly so handsome; he was lanky and had an angular face. Phurball is sleek and well-proportioned and has a lovely round face. His eyes are green and he looks like he’s wearing eyeliner.

Phurball came to live with me before I was even married. A friend of mine was standing out in his front yard when a car drove by, and the occupants flung a cat out of the window. (For a long time I tried to tell myself the cat had jumped out, not wanting to believe anyone would be so deliberately cruel, but when I mentioned this theory to my friend he disilluded me.) He retrieved the cat, who remarkably was unhurt, but my friend already had two dogs and four or five cats and his wife put her foot down at any more. He knew I was cat-less at the time and asked if I wanted the cat. Well, to me a house (or at the time an apartment) isn’t home without a cat, so I adopted Phurball.

Who turned out to be a wonderful cat. Whoever chucked him out that car window really missed out. He is friendly and affectionate; he loves nothing better than to be petted and loved. He will ignore food in favor of affection. He’s surprisingly chatty for a non-Siamese cat; perhaps because I talk to him all the time and it’s just natural to talk back, or perhaps it’s just his nature. He quickly forgave me the unpleasant trip to the vet for his “operation,” and amiably agreed to go along with the few rules that I set for household pets (mostly no walking on cooking or eating surfaces).

If I’m eating something Phurball thinks he would like, he won’t beg or pester, but will sit politely by my chair and wait patiently. If I am reading or talking and don’t seem to be noticing him, he will reach through the rails of the chair’s back and give me a gentle poke to get my attention. Sometimes he will do that even if he doesn’t want any food, but would just like a caress and some conversation.

Phurball with remote control

He is the most forbearing animal it has ever been my privilege to live with. As our family increased to one and then two children, Phurball never made the slightest move to scratch or bite the kids, even when they were infants and still learning to be gentle with him. If little hands got too rough he would merely remove himself from reach. I think he also trusted me to prevent the small ones from getting out of hand, as I trusted him to excercise patience with them.

He also enjoys playing mind games with the adults. Sometimes he will wait until he has our attention, then abruptly stare with great fixation at thin air. After we spend several minutes looking to see what he’s staring at, we will glance back at him to find him smirking at us. Occasionally he will sit in one place and meow until I come to see what’s wrong, and then just beam at me as if pleased I responded. His favorite perch is an old couch which is set on end; its upper end is about seven feet high and he likes to sleep in this elevated perch. Once when we had some friends over we were all standing next to this perch talking. Phurball bounded up a foot or two to cling to the side of the couch, looked over at us to make sure he had our attention, then strolled leisurely up the vertical surface to his perch and sat there looking insufferably pleased with himself as our friends expressed their awe.

And in one last anecdote…I once bought him a catnip mouse and put it into my purse to give him when I got home. By the time I got home I’d forgotten about it. Later that night I saw Phurball up on the kitchen table (you may recall that he doesn’t GO on the table, he knows it’s against house rules) sniffing with great interest at my purse. It wasn’t until he actually took the zipper tab in his teeth and started working the purse open that I remembered that catnip mouse inside. I have never seen a cat that could unzip a purse until then. Perhaps I’ve just never seen a cat who WANTED to unzip a purse.

 Posted by at 10:29 am

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