Sunday, January 27, 2008

The fourth wheel

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so sometimes I do wonder if I'm neglecting the fourth member of our household - not just on my blog, but in general.

That's because Pumpkin is a cat. And of course, not nearly in need of as much attention as Norton, the dog.

But Pumpkin is, as my father once described his (late, lamented) cat, Shadow, a singular creature.

Pumpkin - who really is, as with Norton, Marisa's pet - does several non-cat-like things.

For one, she talks.

Well, not literally. But she meows constantly. I was reminded of this the other day when we visited our brand spankin' new invitation vendor and her cat started meowing at us. And she purrs. A lot. For no apparent reason. The other night, she was sitting on the couch, just purring. Nobody near her, nothing going on. Just a content cat.

Pumpkin, who also has some cataracts (no pun intended), also likes to run right in front of your legs.

I can't tell you how many times I've stepped on her, kicked her or tripped over her. Fortunately a) I've never hurt her, even the time I booted her into a wall when she zigged and I, well, zigged; and b) she doesn't hate me for it.

How do I know she doesn't hate me?

Well, for one thing, she'll "gimme a pound, dog" (pun intended).

Because she likes to rub her head on things, I suppose to mark her scent or something. But as a result, if I stick my fist out, she'll bop it head-on.

I call her "kitty head-butt" because sometimes, that's how she wakes me up. Bam! Head butt.

Another reason I know she doesn't hate me?

She follows me into the bathroom.

Those of you who know me probably realize that's a risk even (the late, lamented) Evel Knievel wouldn't take...

But seriously. The doors in the house aren't all level so they don't all close, and inevitably, if a bathroom door re-opens behind me, four times out of five it's not Norton making sure I haven't abandoned him, it's Pumpkin.

Why she does it, I don't know.

But it's darn hard to take a good bathroom break seriously when there's a cat rubbing against your legs.

Especially if you're trying to, as guys do, pee standing up. The first time she wandered in during that, which was one of the first times she wandered in at all, she nearly wound up a wet cat, if you know what I mean.

And then, of course, there are the little decks on the house. Norton likes going outside, but so does our "indoor" cat.

What does she do out there? Mostly, she sniffs the air. Sometimes she sits in the patio door and just sniffs. Other times, out on the deck, she'll stick her head through the rails and sniff. (The first time, I'll confess, I thought she was going to try and jump.) Once in a while, she growls at a bird, or hunts down a leaf. But mostly, she just sniffs.

Did I mention she likes to hide and ambush Norton? Much like Shadow would sit at the top of my parents' stairs and meow through the baby-gate at my (late, lamented) dachshund, Morgan, just to torment him because he couldn't get to her...

Pumpkin will hide behind something, wait for my gentle, wimpy and 60-pounds-bigger dog to wander by... And swat him in the face!

Hell, sometimes, she doesn't even hide. She just runs up and clobbers him, then runs away. Probably laughing.

As a result, we have a big dog... who's afraid of the cat. He won't go up stairs past her. He just stands there, waiting, looking forlorn. While she wanders back in forth in front of him, rubbbing his legs with her head. Because she can.

Of course, the pets do love each other. But really, I think Pumpkin just knows she can torment him for fun. Like a big sister or something. Except she's the little sister.

Eh. What do I know? I'm an only child.

But somehow, now, in the mornings, sometimes I wake up squished onto one side of the bed, by a snoring dog, a drooling cat and a, well, snoring and drooling girl.

Speaking of which, did I mention the cat drools?

She'll sit on your chest if you're lying down, and drool on you. She did it to me once.

But the best one was, one night when I was driving home, I was talking on the phone with Marisa, and she was telling me how Pumpkin was sitting on her, and suddenly she started screaming and squealing and yelling.

So I'm yelling, "Honey, what is it? Are you ok? What's wrong!"

And when she finally answered, she screeched, "Pumpkin drooled in my mouth!"

Which isn't quite as good as the story about one of my fraternity brothers in college.

But at least this one's printable.