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Purr-sonality conflict


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About a year ago, my wife and I adopted a cat. Stella was advertised on The Republic’s pet page as “petite,” a “lap cat” and “a real sweetie,” exactly the kind of cat we were looking for. While she is small compared to most cats, she has turned into something of a tiny terror.

The first two weeks after we brought her home, she seldom came out of hiding. But eventually she figured out we were not going to hurt her and started to show her face on a regular basis. After a month or so, she slowly became a lap cat and a real sweetie, as advertised.

Unfortunately that phase didn’t last. Over the past few months our real sweetie has turned into a real stinker.

If Brenda or I pick her up and set her beside us in the chair, you’d think we were holding her over a pack of snarling dogs.

The second we loosen our grip, she shoots off the chair, turns and gives us a look that says, “What is wrong with you?

Obviously you’ve mistaken me for a lap cat, which clearly I am not! Now why don’t you do something useful and put some food in my dish? And while you’re at it, my litter box could use some attention, too.”

While we’re disappointed that Stella didn’t turn out to be the lap cat we hoped for, we’ve learned to accept it.

What we’re still struggling with are her aggression and her sometimes bizarre behavior.

While Stella clearly does not enjoy spending quality time on the laps of her owners, she loves scratching and biting said owners’ feet and ankles.

If I am watching television, I can expect that at some point during the program I will suddenly have a “real sweetie” wrapped around my right foot, trying to gnaw her way through my house slipper.

And if you want to see something funny, you should see a grown woman run across the bedroom and leap into bed to avoid having her ankles attacked by the tiny yellow cat lurking in the darkness underneath.

Some advice however: Should you ever witness this, don’t laugh. Seriously, do … not … laugh.

While Stella clearly enjoys attacking our feet, she absolutely hates it when we talk on the telephone. As soon as one of us answers the phone, Stella starts pacing the floor around us while meowing constantly.

It’s almost as if she’s yelling at us, “Who are you talking to? There’s nobody here! You’re talking to air! And you call me the dumb animal?”

And as much as she hates the phone, FaceTime seems to send her into full-on attack mode.

Recently Brenda was sitting in the living room talking to one of our granddaughters on her smartphone using FaceTime. Stella jumped up on the arm of the chair, looked at our granddaughter’s face on the phone screen and promptly bit Brenda on the neck.

Yeah, she’s a real sweetie all right.

But I don’t want you to think Stella is completely cold-hearted. She can be quite affectionate. Actually, she is quite affectionate for a brief period every single day. Unfortunately, the period she has chosen is between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m.

Sometimes she cuddles up next to Brenda, sometimes she cuddles up next to me, and sometimes she sleeps between our heads.

For such a tiny cat she can take up a lot of room. She also has a habit of waking up and meowing 20 minutes before my alarm is due to go off.

For these reasons we continually threaten to shut her out of the bedroom but seldom do.

I guess we’re reluctant to give up those few hours of the day when she seems to more than tolerate our presence.

While Stella is definitely not the lap cat we thought we wanted, we’ve grown quite fond of our crazy little ankle- (and neck-) biter. I wouldn’t trade her for another cat, even one guaranteed to sleep on my lap whenever I wanted it to.

Stella is simply Stella, and I love her for it.

Cats, and even people, don’t always turn out to be exactly who we thought they would be. But sometimes that can be a good thing. We need to learn to accept cats, and people, for who they are.

Just be sure to watch your ankles.

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