Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Can Anyone Recommend a Good Therapist?

There’s something wrong with Hemmy. He likes to play with catnip, he likes to play with cat toys, but his favorite game in the world is dog hunting. I first noticed this strange behavior when, as a stray, he arrived on my deck years ago. He lived outside until we were sure we could not find his previous owner and had him checked for illness. During this time, he spent much of his day sunning on the deck in the back yard.

One day while he was sunning his big brown belly, a Labrador retriever strolled through the back corner of the yard. Hemmy sat up and stared. Most cats on seeing a large dog freeze and hide or if unnoticed slink off somewhere safer. Not my Hemmy! A strange look came over his face, it was the sort of the look Bugs Bunny gives the camera when he’s about to play a trick on Elmer Fudd. Almost gleefully, Hemmy jumped up, darted down the steps and strode purposefully across the yard toward the dog. Luckily, it’s a very big yard backed with woods and Hemmy never caught him. Who knows what scars that poor dog may still have if he had!

This strange trend manifests itself at the vet’s office as well. Hemmy doesn’t mind going to the vet. Even after countless trips and major surgery, he is ambivalent about the experience. He does object, however, to being in the carrier. He objects very, very loudly, so contrary to my own rule I usually take him out and let him sit in my lap in the waiting room. Unlike the other cats in laps, he sits up tall and looks around with interest. He scans the dogs with that twinkly look in his eye. He usually locks in on the largest dog present and stares him down dying to get away from me to pick a fight.

What can I say? My cat is a man. He lives to have a good fight. When stray cats fight outside Friday and Kit are visibly upset. Hemmy dashes over (inside the house, of course) and vows to fight the winner. In supervised trips to the backyard, he picks fights with the neighbor’s dog through the fence. Hemmy slaps him and the dog runs in circles.

It’s not that Hemmy has a personal dislike for any of the animals he fights (or tries to fight) with. In fact he usually likes them. He and the neighbor’s dog are great friends. He just loves to roughhouse. If he were a person, he would make a great hockey player.

But there’s a secret he doesn’t want told. He’s really a softy on the inside! He is the best snuggler in the house. When he turns on the cuddle he just can’t get close enough to you and his purr is rich and warm. When he nestles up next to me on the couch I forget all about my stress and know that I have the best cat in the world, even if he does cause my heart to stop when he rushes toward danger!

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