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Jim Warne:

I’m jealous of our cat.

Not because he has everything he could possibly need provided for him free of charge, including his own bathroom – a kitty litter box. (OK, who’d be jealous of that?) I knew what the arrangement would be when we took him on.

And not because it seems no one can pass him by without patting him on the head and telling him what a handsome specimen he is. That used to happen to me – at least that’s what it says in my diary.

What I’m jealous of is his energy, his pep, his vim, his vigor. Granted, he sleeps an average of 16 hours a day to maintain this level, but I would gladly do the same for just half of what he expends in the other eight.

He can leap up from what appears to be a sound sleep, dash from one end of the house to the other at full speed, jump on to and off of any furniture in his path with ease (equivalent leaps by me would result in multiple casts and hospital stays), then prowl the premises looking for shoelaces to untie or toys he can toss.

At night, when we go to bed, he can jump on either of us at any moment (not gently), nudge and prod us, try to get under the covers, attempt to pull our pillows off onto the floor and then, when we don’t respond to his invitation to play, retaliate by batting the ends of the window shade pulls against the bedroom walls until, finally, he gives up and leaves us to our snoring, looking for greener fields.

There are “cat” people, and there are “dog” people, each of whom will argue that his is the better choice. We have had equal numbers of both. Does that make us ambi“pet”strous? On the canine side we’ve had two Saint Bernards, a German shepherd and a cairn terrier, all of which we purchased, some on impulse and some in answer to pleas from the kids. (“We’ll take care of it, honest we will. Please? Please?”)

All of our four cats showed up at our door, walked in and took over, making us wonder if somehow the first one had put an “X” on our stoop, the way they say hoboes used to do during the Depression, signifying an easy mark.

When our last cat, a calico, passed away at the age of 16, we decided that was it – no more pets to take care of and become too attached to. Our resolve held until a phone call from my sons, saying they were closing their hunting cabin in Waverly for the winter, and there was a mother cat living under it with a kitten, the last of her original three.

“With all the foxes and coyotes around here, that kitten will never survive the winter,” Mark said. “You need a new cat. … Can we bring him home to you? Please? Please?”

“You’ll have to ask your mother,” I told him and handed her the phone, confident she wouldn’t hesitate to say, “No!”

I was only right about not hesitating. “Sure,” she said.

And that’s how we got Oscar, a black cat with yellow eyes and a tail as long as his body. Naturally, being wild, he had fleas and worms, so in addition to all the necessary shots, by the time our investment was finalized we had begun calling each other “Dumb” and “Dumber.”

On the other hand, though, Oscar definitely livens our days, the boys come around often to see how he’s doing and we have the satisfaction of knowing that some animal in the Southern Tier is going hungry this winter because of the one we’ve saved.