Monday, September 13, 2010

Reigning Cats and Dogs

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.


  1. Who knew you were channeling your inner Jane Goodall?

    Eons ago, our family got a Siamese kitten and Golden puppy within about a month of each other, to they grew up with each other's company. The cat expected to dominate. The dog let him think he was in charge. Cat was frequently on the attack but the dog devised a perfect defense. When the cat charged, she'd turn around and let him claw at her bushy tail and fluffy hindquarters. Then she'd sit on him and lick his head until he could wiggle out.

    They were quite a pair.

  2. Bluzdude: Jane Goodall--she dealt with chimpanzees, didn't she? I channeled her while I was raising my two sons.

    My experience with Siamese cats is that they control not only the household, but pretty much the entire world. A golden retriever should have been a pansy. Must have been one smart pooch.

  3. You sealed the deal with the names you picked for them. Now you just need to add a Harrison and McCartney and you can have your own fab 4!
    Joan B

  4. One of your best blogs. This one needs to go on Facebook for your Facebook fans!

    Distal (Cleveland of course!)

  5. Joan B: Are you suggesting two MORE animals in this house? I fear an intervention resulting from that move.

    Distal: Done. I post links to the blog on Twitter, too. I don't tweet often, but would welcome a new follower, if you're so inclined!

  6. Very true in so many ways.
    Cats are always a huge pain in the ass, but so wonderful when you want them to be.
    My alpha cat has turned to waking me up each night at have girl talk and scratch the fuck out of my is heavenly.

  7. Amanda: My cats are never more crazed and demanding than they are between 3-5 a.m. We really should rearrange our sleeping schedules to better meet their needs.