I, for one, welcome our new feline overlord


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There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — my family is going to the dark side!

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There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — my family is going to the dark side!

For the record, I am not suggesting we are switching our barbecue from charcoal briquettes to propane. Nor are we abandoning Coke in favour of Pepsi.

No, what I’m saying — and you might want to sit down before reading the last part of this sentence — is that we are getting a cat.

And when I say “we,” of course, I am referring to my daughter, Kayleigh, who this weekend is moving back to Winnipeg after spending several years working and living in northwestern Ontario.

Along with her furniture, clothing and other assorted belongings, she is bringing along something we had not anticipated, by which I mean a rescue cat she is calling “Cheddar” on the grounds that it is orange.

My daughter welcomed Cheddar into her teeny-tiny house after he was apparently abandoned by a previous owner and spent several weeks surviving in the great outdoors.

It appears my daughter — who, like everyone else in our family, was raised to believe that “dogs rule and cats drool” — is clearly in love with this feisty feline intruder.

Here is what she told me in an email when I asked her to describe her new roommate: “He is very cuddly. He loves to play with toys. Food is his life. He likes to sleep. He meows like he has laryngitis but it’s just how he sounds.”

At this point, if I’m being honest, I would have to say we are extremely excited about our daughter moving back to the city and staying with us until she eventually finds an apartment, but we are not quite sure what to make about the fact that she is now hopelessly devoted to a creature that, scientifically speaking, is clearly not a dog.

Longtime readers will know that, if I am famous for anything, I am famous for writing entertaining and educational columns singing the praises of dogs while also trashing the reputations of cats.

It’s not that I actively dislike cats; it’s just that I have always been a dog person in the sense that, like my own two mutts, I bark at things that aren’t even there, frequently emit toxic aromas, enjoy having my belly rubbed, and never miss an opportunity to stick my head out the window of a moving car, even if I am behind the wheel.

As I have written many times, dogs spend most of their lives waiting for your home to catch fire so they can drag you to safety, whereas cats tend to spend their days thinking up innovative ways to punish their human captors, including shredding their curtains and coughing up slobber-coated hairballs into their favourite shoes.

But I am nothing if not a champion of diversity — and I truly believe we are all better when we work and play together — so I am growing excited about the prospect of spending time with the first cat ever owned by a member of my immediate family.

It’s not that I have no experience with cats. In fact, years ago, before my kids were born, my wife and I lived in a small apartment within spitting distance of the Red River. The most frequent visitor to our apartment was a ginger cat named Jed, who lived in the suite below ours.

Every other day, there would be a knock on our door, and when we opened it, Jed would dart between our legs, leap up on the counter, hop on top of our fridge, and wait for us to come close enough so that he could rub his head against ours.

Jed would hang out with us for several hours, lying on the back of the couch, staring out the window at the slow-moving river and watching TV with us, until he finally decided it was time to go back downstairs.

Not surprisingly, when his owners had to go away for a week, Jed came to stay with us and could not have been happier. One day, however, I happened to be soaking in the bathtub, and Jed was walking along the edge of the tub on top of a metal groove that allowed the shower door to slide open or closed.

At the same time, my wife was watching someone read lottery numbers on the TV, realized she’d won $100, and let out an ear-splitting whoop of joy, which, of course, startled Jed, who jumped down, but unfortunately snagged a claw in the shower-door groove, became terrified, and started wildly whirling around while I sat defenceless in the tub.

Eventually, Jed pulled his foot loose and sprinted under our bed to hide. When we enticed him out, there was a spot of blood on one foot. Thinking we had broken our neighbours’ cat, we whisked Jed off to an emergency vet clinic that was open on Sunday.

It cost us about $150 — farewell lottery winnings — to discover that Jed was, in fact, perfectly fine. So we all headed back to the apartment and our kitty guest spent the rest of the week prowling around and having the time of his life.

At the end of the week, Jed’s owners returned from their trip and came up to fetch their beloved pet, who was running and jumping and playing with unfettered joy.

At least that is what he was doing until he spotted his owners at the end of the hall, which is when he suddenly stopped moving and then, seconds later, began walking towards them with the most exaggerated (bad word) limp you have ever seen in your life.

“Look at what THEY did to me!” was the message written all over this fuzzy little face.

The point is I can’t wait to welcome Cheddar the cat to our family. For safety reasons, however, I will avoid the bathtub whenever he’s in the house.


Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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