Squeaky the cat ... pregnant, or simply indulgent? (Photo by Steve Schwartz).
As soon as I heard it, I was so sorely tempted to hang my head in shame.
Never have so few words been so painfully true.
Here’s the scene: I was sitting at my computer, doing some work. My cat Squeaky was outside in the front yard. That’s when three men arrived, gardners hired to do some landscaping work next door.
“Here, kitty, kitty,” one of them said as he spotted you know who, but Squeaky wasn’t in the mood to be curious about strangers. She ran into some bushes to avoid him.
Ok, so she’s not the welcome wagon. She’s a cat. Not all cats are eager to embrace strangers and hope for a warm pet on the head.
As the gardner watched Squeaky peek out from the bushes, he turned to me and said …
… in exactly these, unpleasant words…
“Is that cat pregnant?”
No,” I responded. “She just eats a lot.”
He took one more glance at her and added, “She sure looks pregnant.”
And the sad truth is, Squeaky … you do!
Oh, the shame.
When I took in Squeaky as a poor hungry stray a few years ago, she had such a lovely girlish figure. Almost like a model for PlayKitty, she was. But Squeaky isn’t a fan of canned cat food or even delectable table scraps. She routinely turns her nose up at both. No, her preferred main course is dry cat food, the most fattening thing that cats can possibly eat. It would be like me living off banana splits.
I suppose this is where you can flog me with a wet noodle and yell, “Bad pet owner, bad pet owner.” You could urge me to be like my father, who closely monitors his cat’s diet and provides her with just enough daily to keep her fed, but not enough to risk her becoming overweight.
And yes, that’s one way of doing it.
I have to tell you, one morning I made a stop at PetSmart to stock up on canned cat food. As I walked into the store, I noticed six cages, stacked in rows of twos. Inside were cats, no doubt waiting eagerly to be adopted.
As I passed by them, I figured they would most likely be shy and afraid of me, as Squeaky had been with that gardner. But I was wrong. As soon as they saw me, they perked up and began meowing loudly, rubbing against the metal cage. So I stopped, and began petting every one. All six cried and cried for more affection than I had time to dish out.
They were so adorable … that I honestly wanted to adopt them all then and there. I hated to see them stuck in those small cages, some of them with dirty litter boxes that smelled awful. I wanted to liberate each one, bring them back to my house, and shower them with love and affection … and a taste of freedom.
But I couldn’t. I had my own back home.
So I have to admit, I’m like the indulgent parent who lets his kids stay up late at night, drink beer when they’re underage and eat potato chops in lieu of vegetables. I don’t restrict Squeaky’s meals because I want her to be happy. She brings me massive daily doses of love and affection for which I’m eternally grateful. So yes, she’s a tubby tabby. No doubt about it. But she’s happy. And she keeps me happy.
Besides, have you ever felt very protective of your tabby? Not only do I fall into that category, but … well, let me tell you something.
Last night, I had a dream that I had brought another one of my cats to the vet to be checked out. When I walked into the office and then to the front desk to ask about her, the receptionist told me there was a problem, and they would be keeping my cat for a while.
“What do you mean,” I asked.
Another woman then entered from the back, holding my cat in a cat carrier. She put my cat on the receptionist’s desk. My poor kitty looked so scared in there, and began crying when she saw me.
The receptionist told me they needed to hold on to my cat for a longer period of time to monitor her, and wanted to run some more tests and study her some more. Then she handed me a paper to sign — as if asking me to sign away my cat to them!
“Not a chance,” I said, as I reached over and grabbed that cat carrier.
My poor scared cat glanced up at me and began crying again. Then I realized she had made a mess in the cat carrier, she was so scared.
The two women looked startled as I turned to walk out the door. That’s when they motioned to a man in the back, who came running out at me —
… and I woke up.
Coincidence, or …?

Contact Mike Freeman at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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