Each morning, I rise and survey my kingdom. "All hail Sherry," I proclaim, "Queen of the Castle!"
And then my cats convulse in laughter.
Who am I kidding? Surely not my household menagerie. I haven't ruled in this house since I brought home my first set of feline furballs thirteen years ago. Just a year later, in yet another characteristically weak moment, I welcomed two more.
Early on, it became clear the crown of royalty belonged to Tiger. Sure, Cubby fought a helluva political race. But hers was a dirty campaign--filled with threats, intimidation tactics, and empty promises.
Tiger showed us he'd rule with a combination of strength and kindness. He kissed the babies, learned to make peace with potential enemies (AKA the new puppy Ringo), and remained stoic and calm amidst the most turbulent and combative conditions. As a result, he was loved and respected by all.
World leaders could learn much from Tiger.
When Tiger passed on to the Great Litterbox Beyond, the kingdom fell into chaos. Who would lead this nation of pets, along with their subservient vendor of food, treats and soft beds?
Neither in the second set of cat twins (AKA the Scaredy Cats) were contenders for the throne. So would it be Ringo, the affable Golden Retriever-Mix? Certainly he had the edge in size and physical power. But he had learned the pecking order in the cat colony from early on in his puppyhood. Besides, it's difficult to muster respect for someone whose idea of a dinnertime delicacy is frozen poopsicles from the back yard.
Cubby's green eyes glinted with anticipation of her impending power. Surely the crown would finally be hers.
And then the new furball arrived.
The newcomer evoked sympathy from those who knew his sad background: an undersized orphan, living on the streets, surviving on hand-outs. A timid outsider who could voice his needs only through a passive squeak. He simply needed to be understood and accepted in order to be a participating, though clearly subordinate, member of this society.
Some leaders, like Tiger (God bless his feline soul), are elected. Others are self-appointed.
It took us only months to realize that the crown in our kingdom had passed--unwittingly--to little Lennon.
Ironic, of course, that we named the kitten for a songwriter who embraced world peace. Lennon the Cat's view on peace was distinctly different from his namesake's. And his leadership style proved to be distinctly different from his predecessor.
Oh, how the other cats now cower and run in his very presence! He delights in their fear. He revels in their vulnerability. He basks in his hostile dominance--especially of Cubby.
If I could only rename this tiny kitten. "Napoleon" comes to mind.
Somehow, despite his frightful dictatorship, he's managed to acquire a single comrade. Ringo the Dog adores him. And the adoration appears to be mutual. They're cuddled together, on the couch, at this very moment.
Strange, this alliance that's been established in our little kingdom.
Yet maybe not so surprising, Ringo's taste in best friends.
After all, his taste in backyard dining isn't so impeccable either.