In a recent Facebook post a friend from high school wrote: “Little Bear is 10 today! (My grandson) says Bear is in charge at our place now as he is the oldest.” The Little Bear she referred to is a spoiled looking dog who in the photo attached to the post is shown laying majestically on a human’s bed. This got me thinking: what would our world look like if the pets were in charge?
Then I realized that line of thought was speculation merely for the sake of speculation. I know from personal experience what it looks like when your pet is in charge. Let me assure you, no one who steps foot in my home doubts for a second that my cat, Sugar, is the boss around here.
There are lots of things that occur in my home that prove to me on a daily basis who is in charge. Over the past year I have learned to quietly go along and to quit trying to assert my dominance. It’s much easier to just let the cat have her way.
I love decorating my spaces, but I also know that the roommate who is in charge would be the one that has the final word about the décor for their home. True, I decorated my apartment before I acquired a roommate, but when I look around all I can see are Sugar’s homey touches. The toys that are scattered on the floor of every single room are clearly her decorating contribution. It took a few painful lessons, but I have learned to purchase only soft toys because walking through the apartment in the middle of the night was a nightmare. My home was an obstacle course of sharp objects until I became more selective in my toy shopping.
The furniture in the apartment was also all of my choosing, but the tears and scratches on all of the furniture, including my leather dining room chairs, are all her special touch. I truly thought that once the kids were grown I would be able to have nice things. The cat disabused me of that notion relatively quickly in our relationship.
The boss in any relationship has the ability to claim a favorite piece of furniture as their own. Sugar has claimed both the dining room table, (which I love but rarely use,) and the bed in the spare room. I don’t really mind about the bed in the spare room, but when I try to use the dining room table to warp a package, sketch, or do a little pen and ink, I have a cat walking across the table batting at anything that strikes her fancy. Not only is this distracting, but it could be potentially hazardous depending on what I am trying to accomplish. I end up being banished to the kitchen counter to do my work while the cat lays majestically on the table.
When you’re in charge you get to decide when you are going to eat. I have been told repeatedly that I should never get up in the middle of the night and feed the cat when she demands it. I have been told that in doing so I am telling the cat it’s okay to do every day. I agree, that’s a bad habit to start. However, when I try to ignore Sugar when she decides it’s time to feed the cat, she does not give up and go away. She only becomes louder and more persistent in her requests to be fed. As a result, I am usually staggering into the kitchen around 5:00 every morning to fill her food dish so I can catch a couple more hours of sleep before the alarm goes off.
When Sugar first came to live with me she hadn’t been fixed and was badly injured, so she stayed indoors until she healed and got fixed. When she was healthy enough, she wasn’t very interested in leaving her domain, so I got used to keeping her as an indoor roommate. Recently though, Sugar has decided she likes to go outside once in a while.
The burr in her saddle is that she would like to be able to make her own decisions. All Sugar wants is to have pet doors in all the doors so she can decide when she wants to come and go. She really doesn’t like the fact that she is dependent on me to decide when the door is going to be opened and closed. Since I live in an apartment, and I can’t put pet doors in, that is one wish of hers that cannot be granted.
When she does go outside, Sugar usually stays on my back porch, and she loves to go visit the upstairs neighbors who share the porch. This is all fine and good until she starts mewing piteously at their back door. I keep telling her that her now tubby belly, and sleek coat are not helpful tools to convince anyone she is starving. She doesn’t believe me and persists in her annoying songs of starvation. I have warned all the neighbors to ignore her just in case they decide to take pity on her. Like the boss she is, the cat is still convinced of her powers of persuasion.
Sugar and I have now lived together for over a year. She has gone from an emaciated 5-pound orphan to a pudgy 12-pound queen. She entertains me more often than she irritates me, which is a big improvement over where we were a year ago. She also has a delightful habit of running to the door when she hears me come in the apartment.
I am not sure if I am capable of cohabitating with another human being, but I am amazingly okay with living with a cat who is the boss of me.