"This is not meant to offend or convert anyone.
by byrd tetzlaff
First published Feb 11, 2000
There is an old saying that goes:
Want to make God laugh? Make a plan.Our house is not the warmest place I've known. The floor is especially chilly in the winter. The cats manage to keep warm by climbing up to higher levels, the tops of book cases, etc, but the dogs are floor-bound. Alice has a thick coat of fur that no cold could ever penetrate, but poor Scottie has only long thin fur. Scottie also has arthritis, so she feels the cold. The other day she was limping and looking particularly pathetic, so I decided to make a bed for her that would keep her warmer.
Someone had given me an old foam-rubber, egg-crate-type mattress. I folded it up and started to put it on the floor near the wood stove for Scottie to lay on. I planned to make her a nice warm Dog Bed. But Princess (the precocious cat) was watching and when her chance came, she leaped onto the mattress and started burrowing into the folds, before I had even gotten it down to the floor. I pulled her out, but as soon as I let go, she dove right back into the mattress. Three times I pulled her out. Three time she dove back in. Disgusted, I went in the other room to find a throw to cover the mattress. When I returned, there was not one cat, but two, hidden in the folds of the mattress. I pulled out both cats and quickly threw the coverlet over the foam rubber, but the cats were too quick for me.
Now, I was starting to get frustrated. Unfortunately, when I get frustrated with the animals, it manifests itself as laughter.
Cats simply do not take you seriously when you are laughing at them. I would pull one cat out and reach for the other. While I was reaching for the second cat, the first would dive back into the mattress. They took turns, gleefully certain that they were winning this new game. And the whole process was getting worse because I was laughing so hard I could not function properly.
Alice came over and licked my face apologetically. That only made it worse. I was becoming weak from laughter. It was going to be a long battle, I could tell. So I straightened the coverlet the best I could, with the cats still underneath the cover of the new Dog Bed.
Actually, that idea would have to be re-evaluated. Obviously, it was not going to be a Dog Bed. The cats had claimed it for their own. The lumps under the coverlet moved slightly and a third cat decided to pounce the lumps. The lumps re-acted violently and angry cat language was heard for some time.
I sat down to catch my breath from the laughter and assess the situation. Obviously that plan had to change. Ok, so that area was now a Cat Bed. So where could I put something for Scottie? I looked around and saw that the wall next to he new Cat Bed was fairly empty. Well, well. I just happened to have a nice, soft, rather long footrest. I could put another cover over that and push it up against the wall, so Scottie could stretch out and not fall off.
Encouraged by my brilliance, I went and got the foot rest and moved it into position. Cleverly, I had put the coverlet on it before I brought it into the room. Feeling quite proud of myself, I stepped back to survey my handiwork, when the fourth cat, a huge orange tom named Morry, leapt gracefully into position and stretched out his full length on the foot rest. Alice put her nose too close to him, questioning, and he swiped it. Morry does not like dogs and misses no opportunity to put them in their place. He was not about to let a mere canine occupy his new territory.
OK, so Scottie wasn't going to have the foot rest either. Stumped, I started roaming the house, looking for alternatives. In the back room, underneath papers and other paraphernalia, was a smaller, squarish foot stool. I found yet another coverlet, wrapped the footstool and brought it into our living space. Carefully, I placed it a reasonable distance from the wood stove so that it was well out of cat paw range. Alice took one look at it, jumped up and curled around and gave me a look that said "thanks mom" and went to sleep.
Scottie just stood there, looking at the three cats on the floor bed, Morry on the foot rest and Alice on the foot stool. Scottie's tail wagged, that slow wag that indicates a question, a hope, a wish. With a sigh of resignation, she turned away and went over to curl up under my desk.
And I sat there, looking at my brood, shaking my head. This was not what I had planned. Absently, I reached down to pet Scottie who leaned against me companionably. It was hopeless and Scottie and I both knew it.
The situation felt familiar, but at first I couldn't place it. Then I remembered. When this feeling had happened before, it wasn't my plan that had gone awry, it was Papa's. Years and years ago, when I was a child, he too, had tried to make a plan.
Mother had a huge bird-feeder, one that took over the entire patio area just outside our breakfast room. Although we all enjoyed the birds, Papa objected strongly to the squirrels who could be quite greedy when it came to the sunflower seeds. So Papa devised a plan to out-wit them.I dropped a friendly hand to Scottie who was thumping a gentle message of contentment with her tail. In the days to follow, she too, would sneak up on the foot stool and the foot rest. Some days, Scottie would even get a chance at the Cat Bed. For human plans are not the only ones to go awry. Morry's plan, Princess's plans and even Alice's plans had no better chance of working out than did mine.
And so it goes. We learn to live together and take our turns at being top dog or cat, as the case may be.
We try and sometimes we even do our best. And once in a while, it works out.
So Be It.