Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Catch Him if You Can't Help It

One of my cat Friday’s favorite games is to be chased through the house. I’m often the proverbial playground “It” and he pleads with me to try to catch him. His eyes bug out and he chirps, a noise between a meow and a purr, as he coaxes me to run. I start toward him and off he goes running full tilt down the hallway. He puts his whole body into it; his legs pump at Mach speed. He holds his fluffy tail cocked to the right, unknowingly creating drag. When he runs on the linoleum or the hardwood floors his paws slide frantically. Sometimes he crashes into the walls or furniture, whichever happens to be on the far end of a slide. He’ll beg anyone to chase him: myself, my husband, the dog. So long as someone is on his “heels,” he’s happy.

He’s happy because he knows he’s faster than we are. He’s delightfully fast! He’s the fastest cat in the world. Except he’s not. He’s really slow. Unaccountably slow, in fact. My husband and I laugh that we can walk behind him and keep up when he is “fast running”. Don’t mention that to him though! Should you “catch” him while he is running by reaching out and touching him, he gets mad. We’re not supposed to catch him. We can’t catch him because he’s so much faster than we are, or so he thinks.

Sometimes he wants me to chase him but I’m working. He’ll meow and get ready to run but I don’t look up from my work. So, he tries standing on my desk, blocking my view of my monitor. I shoo him away. Finally, he’s forced to take drastic action. He scratches the carpet. If I rise to scold him he runs, and I am forced into his game. If I ignore him, scratching the carpet goes uncorrected. What is a cat mom to do (as if anything could be done)?

Luckily, Hemmy is always willing to chase Friday. If Friday’s favorite game is being chased then Hemmy’s favorite game is chasing him. Hemmy hunts Friday through the house, stalking like a small lion. Friday, with gazelle-like alertness, chirps and runs. Down the hall they rush, a thunder of paws closely followed by a thump then hissing and growling. Hemmy doesn’t follow Friday’s rules and he catches him and tackles him. Friday isn’t a fan of rough housing. Though he is the bigger cat, he whines and fusses at Hemmy, which only entertains Hemmy more; his eyes take on a mischievous twinkle that grows in intensity with every growl and hiss Friday emits. Friday squirms away and runs from Hemmy and thus round two is born.

And so it goes: chirping, running, thumping, growling, back to chirping. The circle of life in my house is the circle pattern formed from room to room as cats rush through the house in a never-ending game of tag. Yeah, it’s a bit noisy but far more melodious than that horrible song! Besides, it beats my babies being involved in the for real Circle of Life. And so Brian and I will continue walking behind Friday and Hemmy will continue rolling him end over end and maybe, just maybe, Friday will take a turn at being “It.”

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