By: Lynda Hollenbeck
Mark Twain is credited with saying: "If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man but deteriorate the cat."
The master storyteller/author/humorist is high on my list for many things, not the least of which is his admiration for the feline.
Cats have many attributes that I find intriguing, such as their curious nature. The adage "curiosity killed the cat" obviously has merit.
If you doubt this, throw a paper sack on the floor of a room where there are several cats and watch how many try to get inside it. It can turn into a competition in a hurry.
In reality, the cat's inquisitive nature helps it survive, particularly in the wild. When faced with an unfamiliar object or situation, a cat tends to approach it slowly and with caution. Experts claim this shows the cat's instinctive awareness and readiness to deal with potential danger.
There's one thing I will attest to from personal experience: A cat always wants on the other side of a door. Let it in, it wants out; let it out, it wants in. Over and over, ad infinitum.
Boomer — a gorgeous, full-coated black longhair with plume-like tail — is one of the most curious cats I've ever had. He can't abide being shut out of an area, so his door desires are addressed constantly.
This especially applies to the front porch, which serves as my cats' "outdoor" playground. It's screened and they're prisoners there, but they don't know it.
I'll open the door to let them out there and they're happy for a time. Turn around twice and they're scratching at the door or meowing to come back in the house.
Boomer isn't one that can be ignored because what initially starts as a mild meow quickly becomes a banshee-like scream that translates to "NOW!"
Kitten takes it even further. She doesn't cry, but she rattles the doorknob when she wants in. So far she's not turned it completely, but she's working on it
Cats are creatures of habit. They select their favorite places and spend most of their time there for days. Then, just as if an order to vacate were issued, they move on to another site and don't ever take up residence again in the former resting spot.
Some interesting laws have applied to cats. This is particularly so of city ordinances, some of which supposedly are still on the books, such as:
In Dallas, an ordinance enacted many years ago that stated that any cat running in the street at night must don headlights.
And In Natchez, Miss., an ordinance that forbade cats to drink beer.
You wonder what the people were imbibing before issuing such documents.
Ernest Hemingway is another famous author who was an vowed lover of cats. Descendants of his polydactyls still attract tourists to the Hemingway mansion in Florida.
A number of years ago a six-toed cat at the Humane Society of Saline County was named Freetoes, which seemed highly suitable. I had suggested naming him Hemingway, but was out-voted.
Bringing up Mr. Twain again, he also is credited with saying he believed the veterinarian to be the best doctor of all because the patients can't explain what ails them: The vet has to be smart enough to figure it out.
Who could argue with that kind of wisdom.
Only once in my life did I live in a dwelling where I was prohibited from having any kind of furry companion and then someone — I've never known who — left two tiny kittens on my doorstep.
I took it as a sign that I never should be without a cat and have had one or more ever since.
Whenever I hear someone berate the feline, I'm tempted to share a Chinese proverb.
"Those who dislike cats will be buried in the rain."
Guess it's proof that the cat always has the last word.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.