24 Jan, 2002
Ed: The following story about Topper in his new home was first published in the North Fulton Revue and News, and is re-published here with the kind permission of managing editor, columnist and Topper's new purrson, Hatcher Hurd.
I am on the record as being a dog person. I like dogs. Dogs respond to affection, they are playful and they love you no matter what you do for a living and no matter what you look like in the morning. A dog's mood is on its face. If he's happy you know it, if he's sad you know it.
My wife, Kathy, is a cat person.
I don't understand cat people and their affinity for cats. A cat is affectionate until you feed it, then it goes away for six hours. A cat will jump in your lap, but only if it wants a warm place to sit. A cat won't have anything to do with you until you spread out your project on the dining room table. Then you can't get rid of the darn thing. You can never read a cat's mood. Its face never changes.
Kathy has always had cats. I always had a dog. When we married, I had no dog, but she had two cats. As far as she was concerned, that's the way it would always be.
"Cats are clean, you don't have to walk them. Dogs are stinky and you have to let them out," she would say. Yes, you have to walk a dog, but they are not stinky. And I pointed out that while cats are clean, cat boxes aren't. I would rather walk a dog three miles than clean one cat box.
When we wed we compromised. She would keep her cats and I could talk about getting a dog someday. It has been an uneasy truce.
When Mr. Kitty and Li'l Kitty passed on, I thought I might at last get my turn. We had moved into a nice new house, and it seemed like every neighbor had a dog in the front yard. I think it is in the covenants that you have to have one. We have a yard that cries out for a dog. But as soon as I made dog noises, a new cat came knocking on the door. His name is Topper. He's called a Birman. It's not a breed I ever heard of, but then Topper never heard of me either. Now often times a new cat shows up on the back porch all bedraggled and hungry and looking pitiful. Topper shows up in a limo sipping champagne laced with catnip.
It seems my wife's friend Sallie Smith had a show cat nearing the end of his run and now needed a home. Topper came with ribbons galore, a beautiful long fur coat and fangs about a half-inch long.
Kathy wanted a replacement for her dearly departed cats, and this was her way of informing me we're getting not a pet but a star. And a star he his. Topper made his entrance, fur immaculately coiffed and a Brad Pitt look of disdain. I decided Topper was no name for a cat, so I called him Nicademus. I quickly changed that to Nipperdemus once I became aware of his quaint practice of nipping at one's ankles when he wants to be fed. Did I mention he has fangs an inch long?
I knew immediately I had to show him who was boss or lose my soul forever. Once a cat is set in its ways it is impossible to change its predisposition. Of course I managed it brilliantly. I decided I liked getting up an hour earlier to feed him. It was either that or try to sleep through his tiny little "nips" to let me know he was hungry. Did I mention those fangs were an inch-and-a-half long?
Now Nipperdemus will also nip at my wife, whose sleeping form is just as tempting a target. Yet she never stirs. But as long as she does the cat box, I don't say anything.
So now we have a new member of the family. But there is another chapter to this story. More later.
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