By James Mack Adams

Question: Where does an 800-pound female gorilla sleep?

Answer: Anywhere she wants.

Question: Where does a 13-pound female cat sleep?

Answer: Same answer.

When it is nap time for our two cats, Abby and Charley, seating in our small living room is at a premium. Luckily, our female dog, Lucy, still prefers to take her frequent siestas on a rug or floor pillow. Otherwise, Jo and I would have to move to another room. Either that or flip a coin to see which one of us gets the only available seat.

Pets are funny people with unique personalities. At times, dogs will listen to your wishes and obey because they want to please you. At other times … well, they don’t. Cats, on the other hand, can be stubborn and difficult creatures with which to negotiate. If you have a cat, don’t automatically assume the house and furnishings are yours. The cat will challenge that assumption. Cats allow you to live in the home as long as you pay the mortgage, feed them, and don’t disturb their sleep. History tells us cats were once worshipped as deities in ancient Egypt. They have never forgotten that.

It is difficult to imagine Marilyn (aka Jo) without a cat. She has had a cat, dog, or both most of her life. I had never had a pet until a few years ago. It was then I adopted Lucy from the vet. It was also then I began to realize a new pet will quickly become a member of the family. I also soon came to realize the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. No matter how sleepy or lousy you may feel at 5:30 a.m., the cats are demanding to be fed and the dog has to be taken out to do her business. If it is a dark, cold, rainy, icy, snowy morning, deal with it.

We don’t know much about Lucy’s life before she came to us. She is a sweet animal, but she does have some anti-social issues. When I take her to the vet or groomer, they remark to me how gentle and cooperative she is. “Just come to our house sometime,” I tell them. “She will bark, and growl and not let you in the door.” It seems she thinks everyone who comes to our house is there to do us harm. “She’s just doing her job,” people say. I have been told it is a characteristic of the breed. Lucy is a terrier mix.

Charley cat is a white American longhair. She is also uncomfortable with strangers in the house. If you come to visit us, chances are good you will never see Charley, unless you look in the closet or under the bed. Curiosity might prompt her to come out of hiding if the visitor stays long enough. 

Abby cat is the only pet of ours that can be described as a rescue. She just showed up in our yard one day.

On a morning a little over two years ago, I proceeded on my morning chore of filling the bird feeders in the side yard. A black and white tuxedo cat was lying under one of the feeders. I assumed she was waiting to catch a bird and tried to chase her off. I soon realized she was injured and could not stand. 

Jo brought out a saucer of Charley’s cat food and a dish of water. The poor little cat devoured both and meowed for more. We gave her all she wanted because we had no idea how long she had gone without both food and water.

We wrapped the cat in a towel and took her to our vet. She was starved, underweight, dehydrated, and had a fractured pelvis. After the vet gave her a thorough checkup, Jo and I had a decision to make. Do we give her up to the vet or a shelter, or do we keep her? We were told that, in her poor condition, she would probably be put down. We could not let that happen. So, we brought her home and named her Abby. It did not take long for Lucy and Charley to accept the new cat in the house. Abby became attached to Jo and me and loved to lie in our laps when we were sitting. She too became family.

I normally work a couple or three months ahead on writing my columns. When I wrote this column, I had planned to end it with the previous paragraph. That changed the day we lost Abby. Professional care, TLC, and medications kept her with us a little over two years, but kidney failure had the final say. Abby fought the good fight, as did Jo and I, but to no avail.  Rest in peace, little girl. You are missed.