Lame Adventure 384: For the Love of Cats

Even though I am a committed dog person who is deathly allergic to cats, I now have two critters of the feline persuasion prominently in my life over here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Pictured below is the sister act, Primo on the right, and her sibling, Segundo, on the left. It is evident that they both share my zest for sleeping.

Do not disturb.

Do not disturb.

Their slave had committed the unthinkable: she had taken a two-day getaway to the Newport Folk Festival.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

As someone well versed in giving the illusion of being a few I.Q. points higher than a Bonsai tree, that attribute convinced their serf to appoint me designated cat-sitter. I was paid handsomely with air conditioning and permission to eat all the fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons from Whole Foods sitting in the freezer. There were two pints in there along with a neatly folded frozen bib inscribed with my favorite philosophical quotation, “Batteries included.” In response, I took my Cat Patrol duties seriously and ensured that the kitties were fed, watered, and only partially neglected. I even coaxed Segundo, who briefly threatened suicide, off a ledge.

"Goodbye cruel world!"

“Goodbye cruel world!”

Me: Hey! You! Get down from there! You’re gonna scratch the thing up!

At last, those seven years I spent minoring in Animal Whispering at NYU(seless) had paid a dividend. Call me an egotist, but whenever possible, I seize the opportunity to flaunt my vocabulary of 309 words starting with “a” and ending, obviously, with “zither”.

I was spared the responsibility of performing litter box janitorial service, but I was in the know about where to find the cleaning supplies should someone dribble fluids or leave a deposit in the middle of the living room floor. Those accidents did not happen.

Primo-approved reading material (not pushed out).

Primo-approved reading material (a partial accident).

By the second day of their servant’s respite I sensed that both varmints were feeling bereft. I, too, was suffering a degree of heaviness triggered by either their enabler’s absence, or more likely, having consumed both pints of fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons that had settled like an immovable lump the size of Rhode Island in the ever expanding pit of my being.

Overseeing two melancholy cats did posit an emotional challenge. I took it upon myself to orchestrate some spirit lifting in the guise of exercise, so I threw a tennis ball around the living room expecting them to watch me chase it. But, the game they excelled at had a cerebral slant: Watch Me Ignore You.

"Yes, I am ignoring you and I win!"

“Yes, I am ignoring you. I’m also winning.”

It dawned on me that what they craved most was simple contact: a belly rub and being petted on that sweet spot around the ears — coincidentally my favorite acts of foreplay especially when slathered in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! As mentioned earlier, I am deathly allergic to the kitties so this presented a conflict. They were in dire need of being stroked as I was in dire need of being able to breath — preferably through the nose without the assistance of an oxygen mask to alleviate my wall-rattling wheezing. This wheezing always happens whenever I pet cats for inevitably I will touch my face prompting a transformation that rivals that of the Wolfman but with “why-me?” whining replacing full moon howling.

Both Primo and Segundo took turns nudging my elbows with their heads, their way of urging me to take action. As someone who does not have an iota of Cirque du Soleil flexibility, there was no way I would ever be able to rub my eyes with my elbows so this seemed like a compromise solution bordering on genius.

"Something that works for all of us? That's an eye opener!"

“I’ll always be smarter than you.”

Unfortunately, elbows lack the dexterity of digits. The best belly rubs are not done with hinge joints, even hinge joints that strike a delicate balance between rubbery smooth and switchblade sharp. So, I threw caution to the air conditioning and substantially petted everyone everywhere. All three of us purred contentedly. Then, I hacked a hairball and washed my hands up to my elbows so vigorously, I left two layers of skin and what was once my watch floating in the sink … But I was still able to breath freely.

"Glad you survived us. Now we've got sleep to do."

“Glad you survived us. Now back to regularly scheduled sleeping.”

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61 responses to “Lame Adventure 384: For the Love of Cats

  1. Cool cats – I laughed out loud; and once again you have left me smiling – great story telling.

    R.

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    • Primo and Segundo are even cool when they do something awkward, like fall asleep on a box, roll over and fall off. That’s when they’ll look at us with an expression that screams: “You have it ALL wrong! I did not fall off this box! I intended that to happen!”

      Glad you like the addition of cats to Lame Adventures, R. I suspect these two fur balls will return.

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  2. Used to have a cat. He, too, was gender confused. His name was Aggie. Like these two, the name never matched the gender. As female felines First and Second should have been named Prima and Segunda. I might be wrong but my HS Spanish suggests First might really be Cousin. But I think Second is till Second.

    I had allergies to cats as well but I guess I outgrew them as Aggie lived to be 19 years old and we got along just fine.

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    • Thank you, Julio Ingeslias. I took five years of French but calling them Première et la Seconde would likely shrink my following down from eleven to three. Besides, the French can stay where they tower — in fashion and in fries.

      I recall you had a cat back in the day, but didn’t know his name was Aggie. When I heard that I assumed you named him after the Texas Longhorns. Don’t you often have college football on the brain?

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      • Had I named him after a Texas collegiate 11 it likely would have been Texas A & M since they are the Aggies not, as you ironically got both right and wrong, the UT Longhorns. I would like to say his name was an abbreviation for Aggravation (which he certainly was at times). But the truth is Aggie was merely an elongation of The Bride’s initials, AG.

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  3. V, this is so funny! Something is wrong with WP!!!! I made this great comment and I keep getting a freaking error message that simply says: Sorry, this comment cannot be posted. GRRR.

    Anyway, I’m a dog person though I’ve met some kitties that have dog-like qualities and one of my pups, Sophie, has some kitty-qualities so there you go. I think it’s quite brave of you to endure all these maladies for the pair and I’m glad you made some new furry friends. I always feel as if cats know something I don’t.

    Now I want ice cream.

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    • Hey Brig, whenever the WP gremlins wreak havoc on one of my superb comments,I try to quickly copy it so my grand thought does not enter the void. As Larry Gelbart once said, “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the legs that go first, it’s remembering the word for legs.” And if I can’t remember the word for legs, no way will I ever remember what I was trying to say in a comment and, uh, what are we talking about again here?

      Seriously, I, like fellow commenter, Patricia, could easily go both ways animal-wise (i.e., dog and cat) were it not for these pesky quality of life destroying allergies. Mike G in his comment mentioned growing out of his allergies for the 19 years he served as the foil to his gender confused kitty, Aggie. Maybe I’m following Mike’s lead with Primo and Segundo? That would be welcome since I’m around them so much.

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  4. I am a total cat person. I think it’s their commitment to sleeping that I most admire.

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  5. Snoring Dog Studio

    What a gig! Sort of the yin and yang of a sweet gig. I’m allergic to cats, too. You did quite well, though. Did you try gloves? Frankly, that cat dander is all over the place; you really can’t escape it. You have some in your left nostril, V. Yeah, over there – no dig a little deeper.

    The bon bons – were they worth the sneezing?

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    • Primo and Segundo’s BFF suggested I don gloves, but Jean, I’m a hot-blooded American of European descent. I don’t do gloves. I’m the tactile type. Therefore I dig my mitts into dense, soft fur and then wash my hands until the skin is rubbed raw. That’s the American portion of my persona.

      The bon bons are soooooooooooooo delish! They taste like ice cream and they’re much less caloric! I would have photographed the pint containers but unfortunately, I ate those, too.

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  6. Primo probably enjoyed the book as much (or more) than you enjoyed the bon-bons and AC. I think you enjoyed being their temp caretaker.

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  7. When it comes to cats and dogs I go both ways. Always have. Always will. It sounds as though you may have been nudged over to the cat-side ever so slightly now and I’m very glad your allergies did not kick in. Obviously friendship with Beth trumped your aversion and, being all about friendship, I like that … or was it the bonbons? p.s. They are very cute cats!

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    • Patricia, they are two handsome and feisty critters! If they were indifferent to me, I would return the disinterest, but the second we met, we connected. This is good since I see them frequently. I am an animal lover by nature, so I feel pretty shafted being the only member of my kin with this problem. Chalk it right up there with being the only one who happens to be severely lactose intolerant with practically industrial strength gastritis that places further restrictions on what I can and cannot eat. Friends are always asking me, “Can you eat ___________?” I appreciate that my posse is so considerate. It’s comforting to know that no one wants to be the one that kills me with the soup made with tomato stock — at least, not yet.

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  8. Beautiful cats, V. And they obviously have very good taste in their choice of reading material. And yes, don’t ever forget that they will always be smarter than you, me or anyone else. I am reminded of that on a daily basis. Glad you got to enjoy some AC, too!

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    • Earlier today, Cathy, it was 66 cool cat degrees in the Apple; unreal for the first day of August. I agree with you, Primo and Segundo are indeed very attractive critters. Primo holds the black belt in snuggling, but if people-deprived long enough, Segundo can be pretty warm when she takes time off from her suicidal antics. I am as fond of them as I am of their AC. Their serf is okay, too.

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      • Well, anyone who knows about living with cats, quickly realizes that serfdom is the most appropriate role to accept. And 66 is pretty cool! Of course, living in Colorado, that’s warm for midnight here. We typically have temperature swings of 40 degrees all year round. Still, I’m glad it was much cooler in NYC!

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  9. I am the only one in my family not allergic to cats, but I have developed an allergy to something out here in the west that triggers post nasal drip and simulates a cold. It’s the itchy eyes that really gets me.
    I hope you got a big tip for risking your lungs with all the dander floating in the air…achooo!

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    • Considering that you’ve been battling the Cadillac of health inconveniences, Susie, you suffering a little post nasal drip from time to time now sounds like a sacrament. I can assure you that when I visit Primo and Segundo, it’s like I’m the third cat in the house, their personal Mary Poppins treats me so well.

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  10. Good one-cats are cool!–Mine goes in the bathtub when we go away if we forget to leave a litter box-always goes outside when we’re home.

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  11. You’re going to be babysitting humans before you know it. They are easier than cats in a lot of ways.

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  12. Funny. Frankly, I believe cats are illusionists, leading us to believe that they are smarter than we; you know, like when they sit very coolly pretending to stare at nothing while saying, “What squirrel?” or “What bird?” and suddenly they pounce. The twitch of the tip of the tail gives them away, though.

    If Edgar Allan Poe had a cat, I’m sure it would say “Nevermind.”

    I, too, am allergic to cats. Just after I shower and slather up with lovely-smelling skin lotion, then step out onto my porch, the little gray female tabby with the big green eyes, Pickles, who lives across the street, comes over and rubs all against me and I go back inside looking and feeling like a tailless tabby cat.

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    • Ha, more nicely put comedic poetry from you, Samantha. It is true that Primo and Segundo like to rub all over me just like your neighbor cat, Pickles, likes to rub all over you. Primo has also on occasion sat on me. Segundo is more inclined to walk all over me, bringing to mind more than a few of my exes, except when Segundo tramples me, I don’t feel reduced to road kill.

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  13. I’m not a cat person. In fact the last one that roamed our abode was aptly named Pestilence. Cats have a special sense and know which people dislike them. They have a tendency to make figure eights between my legs and purr loudly, or hop in my lap and rub their forehead against my beard. Eventually, they force me to pet them against my own will. My wife would love to pet them, but they run from her. They are the most disagreeable creature on planet earth.

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    • I never considered myself much of a cat person either, Russell, once I realized that I was so allergic when I was in my thirties. Of course, that prompted every cat I met from that moment on to make a bee-line for me. They are crafty creatures, that is for sure. Why my allergies do not go off the charts when I’m around Primo and Segundo is nothing short of a miracle. As a card carrying cynic, I doubt that my allergies have gone away, but it is possible that they’ve taken the summer off and come fall, I’ll have to slip into an iron lung whenever I visit their nanny.

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  14. Allergies aren’t the best, LA, I completely understand your pain… although, I’m not allergic to cats. I know quite a few of them, who all have their own petting requirements! Glad to hear that you didn’t have a transformation after tickling them. And look at this… me posting on your blog… without so much as an issue. Could it be that my troubles are finally over?
    Have a great rest of Thursday, LA!

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  15. Have mercy! I’m glad you threw that stunning, must-read book down beside the P- or S-cat for comparison. (You know how people put a penny in the photo to show scale.) That’s one big cat, which must mean a lot of hair. Stay clean and disinfected!

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    • Tania, Primo is the bigger puss and you’re right, she consumes a lot of acreage. Her serf has devised a two step program so she can climb onto the bed because her middle age weight gain is a scosh problematic. Segundo is the friskier one who can frequently be found scaling the ceiling.

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  16. Always remember that cats have staff. Not owners, STAFF.

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  17. Love the cats’ names.* I was cat-sitting for a neighbor a few weeks ago and was nearly in a panic when I found one of the cats had started shedding his nails. I thought he was in a state of anxiety over his person being gone, but nope – this is normal. (Thank goodness for Google searches.)

    I think these kitties are very dog-like, and that makes them a-okay in my book. Reggie also will nudge my arm with his giant schnozz when he would like to have a belly rub.

    * Every now and then what little command of Italian I have comes in handy.

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    • Jackie, I would have had a full-blown freakout if any nail shedding had happened during my cat patrolling. Primo and Segundo are very dog-like. They’re super social; the types that would belong to Facebook and would Tweet if they could. Primo has such dexterity in her paws, when she grabbed hold of a toy the other night, I thought I glimpsed a tiny opposable thumb.

      I have to meet Reggie, if only for a dog-fix. Primo and Segundo’s in-house staffer also loves dogs and she thinks that if they added one to the house-hold (that is not happening), everyone would get along. I can see that. They’re cool cats.

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  18. Those are pretty kitties! Did they do the head under the book you’re reading trick? As if to say, Um I’m still here. The best cats are the dog cats.

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    • Primo and Segundo are dog cats, Maggie. As for the head under the book trick, I haven’t encountered it since I’m a borderline illiterate who has yet to open a book around them, much less read one.

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  19. Glad to see you’re out and about with other Lame Adventures prodded by Whole Foods bribes. 🙂 Sorry to hear about the loss of valuable epidermis but at least you could still breathe, right? I’m not much of a cat person either and not so much because of allergies, just because I’m a dog person. But I’ve got to say those names are pretty badass 🙂 Have a good weekend 🙂

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  20. So glad you all survived! I wish there was something to be done about cat allergies. Both my girls are allergic, which makes owning Kush a difficult issue. When the girls come home to visit they have to stay somewhere else… I feel badly, but what can I do? The girls visit maybe once a year, Kush keeps me company EVERY DAY.

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    • Terri, when I knew that Primo and Segundo were moving to New York, I did think the worse. Look at them, they’re two total furballs like your beloved Kush. Somehow, they don’t set me off. I have no idea why that is. Maybe they’re just the miracle cats.

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  21. writerwendyreid

    Love the kitties V. I’m glad you were able to interact with them without using oven mitts.

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  22. Lame! You catsit! ( I had to type that carefully…) Glad you Primo and Segundo got on famously, and neither litter cleaning nor pooper scooping were part of the deal. These can take the shine of a human-cat relationship.

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    • Phew! Glad you typed carefully, Kate! Back in the day I worked at a joint where I was in charge of two cats, Frick and Fruck (guess who named them?),so I am very familiar with The Box, but let’s not reveal that to Primo and Segundo’s Chief of Staff.

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  23. So glad you’ve gotten some AC! I hear it’s not been exactly cool in Gotham City. And you got a little, dare I say, pussie love! Seriously, glad you didn’t have an attack. The cats are sweet-looking. And I love their names!

    I know I’m late getting to this post. Forgive me. Been busy working on my memoir. Proud of me, right?

    Stay cool, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • Kathy, the past two weeks have been uncharacteristically lovely out here. Warm air,low humidity, great sleeping weather, good hair days. Naturally, I blame global warming for this.

      Primo and Segundo are very friendly social critters. Their chief of staff has taught them well.

      That is indeed excellent news about a memoir. Take some advice from one who knows, blogging while writing a book is a health hazard.

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  24. I have often proclaimed not to like cats, but I have never found one that I didn’t end up giving belly rubs and ear scratches too. Well, that’s not entirely true, like humans, there are a few of their kind that are a bit sharp for my liking. I am glad you survived, and dare I say, enjoyed the encounter? Not much better than purring.

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  25. Recently watched a documentary called “Secret Life of Cats”, very interesting, proves that cats are born killers and they would eat you if they could drag you though their little cat door.
    I used to have 2 cats at home, one believed it was a dog and the other one was double cat, meaning it was a bastard that would get close to you so could rub his belly and once he was satisfied he would get up wait for you to move so he would pounce and on you, he would bite and scratch the hand with which you were petting him.
    I like dogs better, but cats are funny.
    The Wolfman remark reminded me of this, a bit unrelated but it came to my mind.

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    • Leo, it does not surprise me that you would have had a cat that believed it was a dog and another cat that was such an extreme cat it would seem like a cat on steroids. I would expect nothing less from the Leo-cats. I generally prefer dogs, too, but I agree with you, some cats can be very amusing in a Norma Desmond-like way i.e., always ready for their close-ups like Primo and Segundo.

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  26. I also am a dog person, and yet I own cats. That should to some degree illustrate the hypocritical nature of my existence. Together, my cats are worth about 0.375 cats. One will occasionally catch vermin, but more often than not queers the deal and merely teaches the gopher to be more careful. Our gophers are at the top of their game.

    Even though you didn’t name them (unless 1 & 2 are aliases), Primo & Segundo have typically cool LA names.

    The Newport Folk Festival just hasn’t been the same since Dylan went electric.

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    • When I was a kid, we had mice in our garage. My father set traps but meanwhile my dog, Mean Streak, became friends with them. I am sure he warned them, “Don’t eat that cheese. It’s in a trap.” My brother was certain that Mean Streak was even sharing his chow with them. Yet, whenever my best friend visited, our dog would try to bite off her ankle. Animals can be so not ha ha funny.

      Yes, Primo and Segundo are aliases. Glad you think they’re cool!

      Like

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