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THE LONG, HARD SLOG OF WINTER: Winter snow settles in over the Wellsville Mountains and southern Cache Valley. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

OK, I am the Cat Lady -- koo-koo ka-choo!

By Kelly Greenwood

December 11, 2008 | Sometimes she perches regally on my red-cushioned pine chair as if it were made just for her, her endless fur leaving its remnants when she leaves. She often retreats to the windowsill, where she'll chirp at swirling autumn leaves that ride on a harsh gust of wind. A storm is impending, and she has no idea what's going on, so she keeps chirping with curiosity. Her almond eyes catch a glint of auburn autumn light and reflect a deep yellow green. I want to let her out, but I'm afraid - she's too young; she's not even full-grown.

Am I acting like my cat is a human baby? Yes, sometimes I forget she's a cat. For some reason when I got her, my maternal instincts jumped out and caused a riot to protect my little creature. Maybe it was because my friend's family rescued her from the verge of death, and I had the big responsibility of taking her under my wing.

I had never had a cat before, or any indoor pet for that matter. I had a rabbit for a long time and loved him, but rabbits are wild creatures, and he didn't like to be held when he got older. Plus, we kept them in cages outside year-round. Is that really a happy life for any animal?

When I got Pippin, I didn't know what to do with her. I had wanted a cat since I was 4 years old, and the desire had become stronger the summer I got her. I wasn't supposed to have her, according to the folks at Re-Max West, but I didn't care because life is short, the place was a dump, and my landlord was an idiot. (Really.)

But I wasn't quite sure how to handle this 5-week-old tiny puffball with the little tail that poked straight out. She drove me nuts and clawed my skin off, but she was friendly, innocent, and loving. And of course, I immediately loved her. But how was I supposed to raise a cat in this world? Was I supposed to be with her all the time? What if she becomes emotionally scarred because I was gone a lot? I actually began to have anxiety attacks. I had to remind myself she wasn't a human. She was just a cat. Cats are resilient creatures, and even kittens are self-sufficient. She just needed love, warmth, and food, and she'd be good. She didn't need me to be emotionally and physically available all the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure all she wanted to do was climb and play all the time.

Months have passed, and she is so big now! She still loves to play and jumps frantically at the wave of a shoestring, but she is more gorgeous than cute. She makes funny little noises that sound like whispers whenever I say "hey" to her. And every morning without fail, she cries outside my door for me to wake up. When I open the door, she pounces on me, I pick her up, and she licks my face like a dog. (Who needs exfoliation when you have a cat tongue licking you all the time?) Her fur is impossibly soft, the color of a dry winter landscape. Long stripes of black are marbled with dusty grays and brown, and tufts of white and tan jut out from her chest, as if to frame her little round head perfectly. The sad thing is, this little creature doesn't fully comprehend my love for her.

Some people think I'm obsessed, but I try not to be. I am not the cat lady.

I want to let her out more, but the black kitten next door doesn't receive her friendliness very well at all. I try to tell him she's beautiful, and why in the world won't he be her friend! But he hisses on. I still need to get her "fixed" and get her shots done, and I am dreading the day. That's the main reason I don't let her out very much. She needs more defense. Until then, I think she'll be content staying in, especially now that it's so cold. Luckily, cats have been domesticated since ancient Egyptian times, so I don't feel too bad.


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