By: Christina J. Johns

I've had cats for most of my adult life. Sounds like a sort of disease, doesn't it? And it is in a way. I have very rarely known anybody who had cats that wasn't crazy about them. And what's not to be crazy about?

With a few exceptions, they are highly intelligent, strong willed, elegant, funny, crafty, manipulative and more perceptive than most people I know. They are also loving and tender, caring and loyal - if you treat them properly. You might mistreat a dog and have it come whining back to you, tail between its legs, asking for forgiveness. A cat. Never. One ounce of mistreatment and a cat will walk out without a glance backward. "Bye bye dear." Winston Churchill once said that dogs live to please people and people live to please cats. It's so true.

I once remarked to my mother (who is not fond of cats although she frequently babysits) that my cats were very sweet cats. "Sweet?" She replied. "How could they not be sweet, their every desire is anticipated and fulfilled. I'd be sweet too." She has often remarked that if reincarnation exists, she wants to come back as one of my cats.

But you know, the thing that I think really gets people about cats is their absolutely unique, quirky, highly individual characters. We have two cats (half brothers) that are as different as night and day. Fernando Rafael da Silva, is a huge black panther of a cat, and a gentleman to the core. I have never seen him jump onto a cabinet or a table, or sleep on the sofa, or demand food. Such behavior would be beneath him. He may sit near you, but never on you. His manners are impeccable. And, he demands impeccable manners from others. Fernando has rules - strict rules about how he is to be treated. No one is allowed to break the rules. We have often kidded that we needed to write out a card of instructions for people coming into the house and put it around Fernando's neck. Rule 1) Do not rub this cat's fur in the wrong direction. Rule 2) Do not pick this cat up, and Rule 3) under no circumstance touch his back feet.

A warning is usually issued to an offender, in the form of a low menacing growl, but not always, and those who do not heed this warning are met with the lightening fast sinking of ten razor sharp front claws in their hand. Sometimes, the canines are included, but never hard. The real problem is that this little act of terror scares the beJesus out of the victim and usually they jerk away, dragging the ten razor sharp claws down their hands. It's not a pretty sight.

Philipo, Fernando's younger mackerel tabby half brother is completely different. No gentleman is he. Peep is always into something, whether it's coming in through the study window with a skink and letting it loose in the guest bedroom, killing the neighborhood birds, getting locked in the neighbor's garage overnight and coming home hysterical, or turning over a decorator table and breaking every bone in his little paw. That one costs us roughly $700.00.

He leaps from cabinet to cabinet while you're trying to open a tin of food, has been known to jump in the middle of the dinner table when guests are present and howls relentlessly when he wants crab legs. He smacks his food when he eats, gobbles his Science Diet and protests vehemently when he is not allowed to go out. He has to be the most spoiled cat in the universe and I sincerely don't know where we went wrong with him.

But, Peep is really as sweet and loving as a kitten. He adores his older brother and always sleeps so he can touch Fernando even if he has to reach out a paw to do so. Sometimes he just comes up and lays down on top of him, and Fernando (who has strict rules for everybody else) seems to have no rules where Peep is concerned. Peep gets away with anything.

Go to the humane society and get yourself a cat, or two, or three. I promise you, you'll have a delightful, fascinating companion and friend who will give you enormous pleasure.

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