Cat wars

The worst one was over food, and it lasted for seventeen months. Brewsky would start crying two hours before each of his three daily meals and keep it up almost nonstop (Peggy thinks he's starving despite his 14-pound (6.4 kg) weight and insists on feeding him three times a day). Naturally, I enjoyed chasing him through the house with a towel in one hand and a squirt bottle in the other while yelling profanities, but it was clearly too much of a good thing. Near the end of this period, Brewsky ended one such chase by rolling onto his back and squirming slowly from side-to-side the way he does when he wants to be petted. I was confounded and disarmed by this behavior, so I got down on the floor and petted him with the thought that he had just better not mistake my softness for defeat. As it turned out, the defeat was his. He might still cry a few times for his food, but when I look him in the eye and say, "No, it's too early," he takes my word for it. So ended the food war. The laundry room war had a different outcome.

We lock him in the laundry room each night so he won't wake us up by yowling like a demon, running through the house like a rhinoceros, and scavenging in the kitchen like a hyena. I prefer to keep the laundry room door shut the rest of the time too, and this means that I don't want him going in there until bedtime because I don't want to be forever having to let him back out. He resists my determination with conviction, at least partly because the laundry room contains doors to the garage and the patio, and he has an interest in each, but especially the garage where the bulk of the cat food and the dog food is stored. Another thing he likes about the garage is that it gives him access to the attic (just try getting him out of there when he's not hungry). He's so successful at getting into the laundry room, concealing himself, and then getting into the garage or onto the patio when the door is momentarily open, that mine and Peggy's combined efforts to keep him out amount to very little. I have concluded that he is capable of psychokinesis, and having gone that far into woo-woo land, I'm practically to the supernatural, and might be leaving any day now to become a prophet in the Judean desert after having found salvation through my cat. Surely, this doesn't happen very often and could put a lot of preachers out of business if it did. 

Peggy had her own food war with Brewsky. It wasn't as bad as mine because I feed him most of the time. However, she generally puts him to bed at night, and she got into the habit of giving him a midnight snack to assuage her guilt for locking him up. He so looked forward to his snack that he took to biting her calves to hurry it along. Peggy has a hard time discipling pets because she thinks it's "mean." This results in them treating her like an equal, and in her and me getting into an occasional fight over her perception that I'm sometimes too mean. Anyway, her propensity toward "kindness" resulted in Brewsky's nightly bites getting progressively harder until one night he nailed her good. I lay in bed laughing as I listened to her chasing him through the house with threats and profanity. When she afterwards came to me for comfort, I accused her of being mean to her "dear, sweet, starving kitty who loves you dearly and never meant you any harm." This made her mad at me too, but he hasn't bitten her since, at least not until today. She came home this morning with the smell of a strange dog on her legs, and Brewsky sunk his teeth into one of her calves. I must confess that he once bit me too, but it was only once. He will sometimes grab my finger gently with his teeth when he's getting tired of being petted but doesn't want to get up, and I'll stop immediately, but it's even rare when this happens. He and I have come to a position of respect for one another's limits, so we don't run into problems much anymore. As much as it makes sense, I show him the same courtesies that I would show another person, although I think he probably deserves them more. 

When I finally put away the towel and the squirt bottle, I had the thought that if had I ever been as stern with a dog as I have been with that little cat, then I would have to agree with Peggy that it was overkill because it would have ruined a dog. I have often come down hard on Brewsky only to see him do the very same thing right before my eyes three minutes later, and every three minutes thereafter until we were both worn out. If there's a dog with that degree of stubbornness, I'm glad I haven't run into him, but if a person can't feel some respect for such determination in cat, he probably shouldn't have one. The problem with a dog being that way, though, would be that you couldn't take him anywhere, and he would probably be destructive at home. 

Yet, for all my sternness, Brewsky was never afraid of me except when I was actually chasing him. This was the opposite of how I thought a cat would behave, having imagined that they were skittish creatures that you had to tiptoe around and handle delicately. He is skittish in that he startles easily, but he's hardly delicate. I can pet him firmly, flip him onto his back and rub his belly, hold him under his front legs like a sack of potatoes, lift him above my head so that he's brushing the ceiling, and even roughhouse to a small extent. I don't know how people tolerate all these neurotic cats that have a flair for the dramatic if not the downright vicious, including the ones that are so timid that they hide everytime there's a knock on the door. If Brewsky is awake, he'll go to see who's at the door (he would open it if he could). Otherwise, he'll continue sleeping even if they sit down beside him. Now, that's a good cat. You've got to admit it. 

I don't know how much credit I deserve for the way he turned out, but I think it was a case of him liking what I will call manly roughness and of me wanting just such a cat. I've had a lifetime of dogs, and it would be hard to give up some doggy characteristics, and with Brewsky I don't have to. I handle him no less delicately than I would a dog his size. I do hope he will become lap friendly over time, and I would guess that he will because he seems to be leaning a little in that direction. For example, Peggy can hold him in her lap each night and brush his fur, and he has gotten to where he likes to lie in bed with us, as long as it's her bed. She thinks it's cute for him to like in my twin bed with me while I'm reading, so she'll often put him there, but he won't stay (maybe he's homophobic), and she seems exasperated by this. I don't really care if he stays or not, which is just as well because he would have to be shackled, and I can't imagine anything more pathetic than shackling my cat to pet him. I haven't mentioned this possibility to Brewsky, but I have laughed about it to myself.  

Sometimes, he seems more like a considerate roommate than a cat due to his seeming intuition about how to get along with people. What he does is basically this: he gives them almost nothing, and they go bonkers over him anyway (unless they don't like cats). I wish I could pull that off because I often think that being liked is just too much work due to the faults of the people I want to be liked by (meaning all of them). I often suspect that most people are on the fringe of insanity. Then I look at Brewsky and he looks at me, and we both realize that we're pretty sane, at least.


Photo courtesy of Jeff De Boer.

23 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Jealous thoughts here. It is very clear that Jazz believes I am below him in the pecking order. I do not know how to change the situation either. Earlier this morning he attacked Jewel. She wriggled out from under him and escaped. He thought about it, and then launched himself at me with all his teeth and claws bared. When I growled at him he stopped - but I bled anyway. (He quite likes to be sprayed with a water bottle.)

Snowbrush said...

"It is very clear that Jazz believes I am below him in the pecking order."

Animals are simply more prone to see men as a threat and therefore as someone to be taken seriously. (Let me go ahead and say that I'm aware that a LOT of women are very good at training animals, and that a LOT of men find it very hard to do this, but I'm talking gender differences in isolation as opposed to factors that might mitigate gender differences, such as experience, interest, leadership ability, etc.) I've even met a few women over the years who had adopted shelter dogs and told me when I tried to pet those dogs that they appeared to have been abused by a man because they found it harder to trust men. Well, maybe, but animals do recognize gender in humans, and it does appear to affect them. I saw a TV show about a couple who went to live with wild wolves and get as close to the pack as possible. They found that this was considerably easier for the woman than for the man. So, Child, gender can work both ways with humans and animals. In other words, we each have advantages. Peggy's biggest problem is that she simply can't make her demands believable. I hear her trying to be forceful, and she just can't pull it off. She seems to think that love and positive reinforcement should be enough. Well, if this is true for some people, my hats off to them, but it's not what works for me, at least until the critter and I reach a certain stage after which raising my voice would be almost unthinkable. I sometimes feel that way toward Brewsky now. Anytime I sense that he wants to please me, I'm all sweetness even if he's not getting it quite right. I have come to feel a bond with him that is more like friendship than like: ME HUMAN, YOU CAT. YOU OBEY. What I mean by this is that he can be so exquisitely attentive and so obviously desirous of a good relationship that the discipline doesn't apply. It has been that way with my elderly blue heeler for nearly 15 years. She was hell on wheels until she accepted me as her leader, and I've rarely raised my voice to her since then.

Lorraina said...

Brewsky sounds like a wonderful pet, enjoy him while you can Snow. It's incredible what a loss it is when one loses their pet, i miss mine and his antics so much. He would have turned 17 today and we always made a big deal out of his bd, now the house is cold and empty without him.It's the most painful loss i've ever had and i'm still bawling 26 days later. Thanks for the visit and comment on my blog.

TICKLEBEAR said...

Interesting post!
Having myself two [rescued] cats with traumatic beginnings in this life, one was all aggressiveness and destruction, and it took me about a year to turn her around and making her a great pet. A few grunts, clapping my hands loudly to show my dissatisfaction, and one slap as a warning after she unrolled her third roll of toilet paper... Speaking of toilet, the youngest one was found in the washrooms at my workplace... All bony and fearful, I took her home and she's the sweetest thing always playful and cuddly, but she's fearful of anyone coming in my home. Seems like I'm the only one she can tolerate. The older one is the opposite, the welcoming committee to any guest I may have, and since she gave up biting and clawing, my friends are simply in love with her, gushing about her the whole time. I believe in loving my pets but with a firm guiding hand. I let them roam all over the place, but they know they're not allowed on the kitchen counters or in the cabinets [which are baby proofed for now], to leave the plants alone, and the toilet paper rolls as well. They have numerous blankets, cushions, beds and one kitty condo to choose from throughout the apartment so that, wherever I am in the apartment, they can follow me if they so wish,
which they do, as they're always curious about what I'm doing... As for food, it's a can, twice a day, [5am-5pm] and a large bowl of dry food always available. Regularity is the best discipline, I stick to it and they appreciate that, I think... I never thought I'd ever have cats, because of my allergies,
but this has diminished over time, and I now prefer them to dogs. They make for interesting pets, I can't deny that!!

As for your wife, treats should be deserved as a reward, not a given.
I give them to apologize for my occasional lateness or when Carrie especially behaved well with my guests, or when she feels under the weather, to cheer her up. As for Ophelia, she doesn't eat them, just toying with them. She obviously prefer canned food... If only she'd be more sociable, she'd get a lot more love, but she seems content with what I give her.
:)~
HUGZ

ellen abbott said...

My cat's idea of affection is sitting in the same room as you. Although, she has actually climbed in my lap a time or two, usually after we've been gone for a few days and she's been locked in the house alone.

lotta joy said...

Dogs are pack animals. Cats aren't. So cats choose who to be with at any given time. Have you checked Brewski for tapeworms? My cat would get ravenous whenever he had the misfortune to get one.

My sister's cat was the most loving cat I've ever seen. One day, with no warning, the cat lunged upon the couch and latched his teeth into her arm. When her husband tried to pull the cat off, it latched onto him, then bolted back onto my sister.

She had to be hospitalized. The now docile cat had to be rolled into a blanket, taken to the vet, and...well...the sheriff delivered the head to the health department to be checked for rabies even though he'd been inoculated.

The vet said this odd attack has a basis in cats yet is rarely acted upon and no one knows the reason.

NOT to say Brewski and my sister's cat have that in common. I'm just relaying an unbelievable but true happening with a very sweet cat.

I've been very, very ill for the past three weeks, and my dog won't leave my side. You can even see the worry in his eyes, and my cats had the same tendency.

All I know is that animals are undervalued as feeling individuals with heart and emotions. Much more intuitive and carrying than any of their human 'superiors'.

Charles Gramlich said...

Pretty much give me a dog anytime. I like cats too but I know they're gonna be a handful compared to the companionship you get from a dog.

Kerry said...

Oh gosh Snow. I'm seriously considering keeping one of the foster kittens. It's good to be reminded of the challenges that a cat provides...am I up to it? I dunno.

PhilipH said...

I'll never have another cat. Candy was a wonderful little lady and I loved her dearly.
Then one night she 'went missing'. Searched for her in the darkness and heard a faint mewing. She was lying in the gutter of road, not moving.
Carried her indoors and laid her on the mat in front of the fire in the sitting room. She quietly purred as I gently stroked her.
It was after 10 pm on a Saturday evening in 1971 and I wrapped Candy in a cot blanket and put her in the car, looking for a vet, and not very hopeful.
I did find one open, in Croydon. I rapped on the door of the shop and the lady vet came and let me in. She said there was no hope. Candy had a broken back, having probably been hit by a vehicle. Candy was put to a permanent sleep. Very sad.
Wouldn't want to go through anything like that again.
Next Monday we are leaving Mellerstain and going to live very close to my daughter Clare and family. Need to be near her, to help and support her as much as possible. Big upheaval. Stressful. But we'll make it. Sad to say goodbye to Mellerstain and the Scottish Borders but Lincolnshire is not too bad a place.

Snowbrush said...

"It's the most painful loss i've ever had and i'm still bawling 26 days later."

I could cry over dogs that I lost decades ago if I let myself think about them enough. I think I mentioned on your blog that losing dogs has been harder for me than losing parents, at least in the long run, because where I did get over my parents, my grief for dead dogs is still fresh. Pets bring us so much joy, and they are also so much like children, plus they're there in our homes 24 hours a day.

"I let them roam all over the place, but they know they're not allowed on the kitchen counters"

Such a thing is possible? He won't get up there when I'm in the room, but that's the end of that good behavior. Because he's really my first cat, I don't know what's normal for cats, and what might be called unusually willful.

"As for your wife, treats should be deserved as a reward, not a given."

I was giving him treats to lure him to bed with us, and I must confess that I have kept it even though he now looks forward to being there.

Philip, I am so sorry about your cat and the move that you're having to make. I can but hope it works out.

"Pretty much give me a dog anytime."

Cats are new to me. My family had them from time, and Peggy and I even had one (that we dumped on my parents), but I never spent time with them, and they all stayed outdoors. We're burned on dogs though. We lost our schnauzer to cancer two years ago, and our blue heeler will be 15 in a few weeks. She's blind and almost deaf, but in good health generally and could live for quite a long time, but the fun in that relationship is long gone. Compared to dogs, cats are just so darned easy, what with being self-cleaning, not having to go outdoors to potty, and not having to be taken for daily walks through the months of Oregon rain and mud. If I were to live on a desert island, a dog would be my choice, but as it is, I'm tired of the decades of responsibility.

"Have you checked Brewski for tapeworms? "

Not since we got him, but he is an indoor-only cat. He has always been ravenous, and could easily become seriously overweight, yet he looks great and has good energy.

All Consuming said...

"Naturally, I enjoyed chasing him through the house with a towel in one hand and a squirt bottle in the other while yelling profanities." - Sounds like and average day with me and Spatz.
I'm glad Brewster came into your life, keeps you on your toes, all the more so for Peggy by the sounds of it. He'd drive me nuts. But they are usually well worth the effort x

KC said...

Hello Snow. I read your posts often but comment seldom. You are always entertaining and thought provoking. I think you will like this blog: http://networkedblogs.com/CryyZ

Check it out if you get a chance.
Karen

Snowbrush said...

" Sounds like and average day with me and Spatz."

OH, so it's an S&M thing that you have guys have going on--while your husband is at work, no less.

KC! I'm so glad to see you again. I hope you and your doggies are well. Surely, we've communicated since my schnauzer died of cancer in December of 2010. Our blue heeler will be 15 in a few weeks, and we also have a two year old tabby cat that we got after the schnauzer died (otherwise, the schnauzer would have had a nervous breakdown). Of course, I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know since you still come round. Our horse-loving friend in New Mexico whom I linked you up to died, poor thing. It appears to have been a hard death, given how hard the time leading up to it was, but I have no direct knowledge as her blog ended with a brief announcement from her husband.

KC said...

Thanks for the update Snow.
Yes, I did know of your loss...still sorry for that. I have enjoyed reading about the addition of Brewsky. He is quite the character.
I'm also sorry for the loss of another blogger friend. Loss is always difficult in any circumstance.
Ruby, our bichon frise turned 14 in July. She mostly sleeps but surprises us with a burst of energy once in a while. Rusty will be 6 soon and is as fun as ever.
Snow, we are thinking of retiring in western Oregon. The winters in Utah make me crazy since I am not a fan of snow. I'm a little skeptical because I do enjoy sunshine and worry there won't be enough of it in Oregon. What is your take?

Snowbrush said...

"Snow, we are thinking of retiring in western Oregon. The winters in Utah make me crazy since I am not a fan of snow. I'm a little skeptical because I do enjoy sunshine and worry there won't be enough of it in Oregon. What is your take?"

Eugene seldom gets snow (and on most "cold" nights, the temperature stays above freezing), and what snow it does get is usually gone in a day or two. Another advantage to Eugene weather is that the hottest month of the year is July when the average maximum temperature is only 81.7. The downside to western Oregon weather is that it's cloudy here 209 days of the year, and those days tend to fall pretty much consecutively. In other words, it's sunny every day for months during the summer, and the rainfall isn't even enough to keep the grass green. Then, late fall arrives, and with it comes months of drizzle. I wouldn't move here again because of the clouds, but if you were able to get away from time to time during the winter, you might do okay. Here's a good link for you:

http://www.climate-zone.com/climate/united-states/oregon/eugene/

Snowbrush said...

P.S. You wouldn't think it given the drizzle, but Eugene is a track and field mecca. In fact, the Olympic trials are held here. BTW, the days are noticeably shorter here in winter than they are in southern Utah (I think you're in the bottom half of Utah) but noticeably longer in summer. I don't know if you're looking for a city or a town, but the Willamette Valley is only 110 miles long, so there aren't that many of each, Portland, Eugene, Salem, Corvallis, and Albany being a few of them (listed according to size). I should also mention that the weather south of Eugene gets sunnier and drier the further you go. It also gets hotter in summer, but I haven't paid attention to the winters, but I don't think they're awful. And then there's the coast. Oregon doesn't just have one kind of weather--or even close to one kind of weather. If you're interested in the area below Eugene, you might want to check out Medford, Roseburg, and Klamath Falls. As for the coast, it's all small towns. I don't know what the biggest is, but I would be surprised if it's over 10,000, and I would guess closer to 6,000.

KC said...

Thanks for all the information Snow. It is very helpful. We are not ready to move for a few years yet but I always like to have a plan.
I fell in love when we visited Oregon a few years back and thought it was so beautiful and peaceful. I do know you don't really know a place until you live there and it is nice to get information from a resident. Thanks again.
Karen

rhymeswithplague said...

I don't think I ever told you, Snow, but it was my father's dream to retire to Oregon. He spent his youth in Iowa and died in Texas at 60 without ever realizing his dream. He had been up and down the west coast during World War II in the Navy and liked what he saw.

RNSANE said...

Hello from Jaipur, India, Snow. I always delight in reading your tales. This one was hysterical. I am not a cat person at all...mainly because I am so allergic to them. I can never understand why felines are so attracted to me, though. It never fails that, when I am in someone's home where they reside, they make a beeline straight for me.

Brewsky seems to provide you with a great deal of entertainment ( ? ) & distraction!

Deb said...

As I sit down to write this on our day off, I'm praying that my little 6 month Chihuahua stops biting me, tugging at my shirt and acting like a complete loca. We have been trying to train her with positive reinforcement, but the biting continues when she doesn't get what she wants ie: treats from the breakfast/dinner table. We are doing everything and nothing seems to work. So, I feel your pain. I know how it is when the both of you (or a couple) has a cat or dog who is not well behaved, and the other person thinks it's not the right way to train them. I do find that when I speak in a firm, but calm voice, she seems to listen, but quickly readapts to her old ways. The worst part of this whole thing now is, she is in heat. Yep. And in a few weeks, we are taking her on, *ughhh* vacation with us. I LOVE her, and she is good at times, but she is unruly when it comes to socializing with other pups or peeps. And now that she's in heat, I'll have a line of dogs chasing us as we walk down the street together.

GOD HELP ME.

I need the dog whisperer. Have you seen the show (forget the name) on Animal Planet with cats who are vicious? Haha, it's hysterical but OMG so scary! That's what your story reminded me of a bit.

And like RNSANE, I'm highly allergic to cats, or I would have gotten one due to their calmness nature, but now that I have met a few people with some wild kitties, not sure about that..

Hang in there! Hope it gets better!

Snowbrush said...

"my father's dream to retire to Oregon....He had been up and down the west coast during World War II in the Navy and liked what he saw."

Except for the rain, it's a great place, and the rain doesn't bother everyone. It didn't get to me for years, and it never has bothered Peggy. Did you know that a Japanese sub launched a plane that dropped a bomb on Oregon? Japan also released bomb-carrying balloons from their mainland, and several Oregonians were killed by one.

"This one was hysterical."

I meant it to be funny, but not everyone seemed to get it.

"she is in heat."

Deb, I would urge you to spay your dog. Millions of dogs are put to death in this country every year because they don't have a home, yet hundreds of thousands of people just keep right on breeding more dogs. If a person simply has to have a particular breed, it is always possible to get one from a rescue site devoted to that breed or even from an animal shelter. Please, please, please, consider the morality of bringing yet more animals into a world in which so many are already homeless. I

Robin said...

I'm *White Rabbit* late....or more appropriately, *White Whale* late...in the thralls of *Moby Dick* rehearsals....Snow, you might really like this one! But, back to *Cat Wars*...I adore the *Cat Armour*...where did you find that photo? Although my Ex and I share our Doggie, a Chocolate Lab, I have always had cats as my #1 pets....I am in awe of their minds and their beauty....I have adored Brewsky from Day 1....I love his personality and his beauty...he is gorgeous. He also KNOWS how much Peggy and YOU love him...

It's pretty sweet to see you try to *pretend* thatyou are the *Master*...but, a-ha-ha, we all know Brewsky runs this household! Who could resist those big eyes and tiger-stripes!!!

Love to all 4,

♥ Robin ♥

Snowbrush said...

"..where did you find that photo?"

Click on the link at the bottom of the post, and you will see lots of cat armor.

"we all know Brewsky runs this household!"

Oh, horrors no, that would be to short-change Brewsky. I have every confidence that, since becoming a grown cat, he tries to make our relationship work for each of us, and I find his social intelligence to be one of his most interesting--and unexpected--attributes.

I saw on the NBC News tonight that San Francisco is thinking of requiring that apartments have at least 220 square feet of floor space in order to avoid overcrowding (of the city, not the apartments!), so I got to wondering about how big your place is. I won't ask, of course, because it would seem indelicate to do so, and, as you know, I'm extremely delicate. Somedays, I have three nervous breakdowns before breakfast, and I have been known to call 911 simply because Peggy startled me by sneezing.