He was the best of cats. He was the worst of cats. Quite the varied opinions regarding one small cat. But that’s the nature of some felines … and their people.
We have a new kitten addition to our family. His name is Opie. He is about seven months old, and is, in my humble opinion, quite a cat. At times, though, he’s been a little too much cat for Dr. Bonnie Jones.
So you can imagine my surprise a couple of months ago when I peeked over her shoulder to see what she was typing and saw she titled her column, “A New Kid In Town.” Suddenly, a real feeling of warmth and goodness enveloped me. “Oh, my gosh! She does like Opie. She even wrote a column about him!”
And then I read it. The column doesn’t mention him at all. It’s all about her love affairs with black and white cats. First Porky, then Jobey, and now “the new kid in town,” Stevie Wonder. Except, he’s not new. Heck, I wrote a column about him last January. Opie is the “new,” new kid in town!
Opie isn’t black and white, either. He is a handsome shade of orange. And not just your ordinary tiger pattern. He’s got swirls!
I must confess to having a certain fondness for orange cats. I was fortunate to have a previous 15-year relationship with a tiny, five pound marvel named Watson, the greatest cat who ever lived. This is coming from someone who has a serious case of “rodentophobia.”
Watson was my protector, my bodyguard of sorts from all things rodent. All it would take was an admittedly girly “EEK!” from yours truly, and he would be by my side in a flash to eliminate the threat. He really was amazing. I don’t know how he did it.
Thus it wasn’t hard for me to take a shine to this gangly kitten who seemed to possess a certain “Watsonesque” gleam in his eye. In fact, the first night we allowed him to sleep on our bed, which was his idea by the way, I awoke at 2 o’clock to find him sleeping with his head on top of mine, like two skulls stacked one on top of the other. I thought that was kind of weird, yet kind of nice. What better way to bond.
Opie was also into head-butting and face rubbing. I thought this meant he wanted to be my cat. It wasn’t until I read my wife’s column last week did I learn this behavior is called head-bunting. As it turns out, Opie didn’t want to be my cat. He wanted me to be his.
Although a people-oriented kitten, he enjoyed engaging our other pets, as well. He especially liked to wrestle with Betsy, our Corgi, and the aforementioned Stevie Wonder. Wrestling with Stevie, however, often led to trouble for Opie. Even though he was younger and smaller than Stevie, their friendly bouts would usually escalate to the point where Stevie would cry out for his mommy, Bonnie. Needless to say, repeated offenses landed Opie on a certain type of list kept by their said mom. Well, that, and the Santa incident.
My wife is not a big collector of things, except for Irish Santas. A hutch in our kitchen holds five levels of them. I always knew this would be Opie’s litmus test. And one morning, he failed. I heard the scream!
Fortunately, he just made it to level one, and only a few of the jolly old elves were knocked over. He did, however, proceed to make snowballs out of their artificial snow. Knowing that Opie wasn’t alone in being in trouble, I did what needed to be done. I scooped up my orange friend and we headed to the barn.
I feel sorry for cat owners who don’t have a barn. Barns can fix a multitude of cat mistakes. Whether the issue is aggressive behavior or inappropriate elimination, time spent in the barn can have positive effects. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent move.
Opie spent the entire day there, but after the evening chores, he followed the dogs and me back to the house. And you know what? After 12 hours of exploration and exercise, exhaustion brought peace back to the household. Apparently, a tired kitten is a good kitten!
Dr. John Jones practices at Delphos Animal Hospital with his wife, Dr. Bonnie Jones.