"Have they ever been around dogs?" the first question I asked when responding to a newspaper plea for "free beautiful kittens."
Assured that they had been, I ultimately picked my own orange and white beauty, learning at the time that they were raised in a stable so had grown accustomed to horses as well as to the two curious retrievers who visited from next door.
There was no adjustment when she met my retriever - no adjustment, that is, on her part. She accepted as her natural right that the big gold fuzzy was there for her pleasure. She cuddled right in, sucking his ear until she fell asleep.
Being very patient and accepting, Major continued to put up with this treatment, even many years later. And the cat, a small five-pound beauty, is a kitten no more. Though declawed, she doesn't recognize this as any more of a disability than her feline status. She climbs trees (up and down) with a mad regularity, avoids birds (probably understanding my attachment) but is quick to reward me with freshly killed mice and chipmunks. I ask for no more - except perhaps that she learn to act more like a cat.
She continues to take her daily naps in the huge retriever crate. She comes when called and, if mewing to go out, will come to the door I find most convenient. She goes most eagerly into her own room at bedtime. The snack of course does help. Brushing is less of a hassle for her than for the big dog. And, like many other cat friends, she accompanies me on walks through the yard or neighborhood.
All is well and good (and catlike) and within normal bounds, I expect, until we get to the dog food. This tiny cat loves the large chunks of retriever food.
I mentioned this oddity to her doctor at one of her regular checkups and was told, with a chuckle that seemed to say "silly girl," not to worry. She won't eat much. So continue to eat it she did.
Trouble is she fails to understand the concept of sharing while the kind-hearted retriever understands it far too well. His bowl of food is placed out at breakfast time and, before he can take a bite, she is up and literally (and quite figuratively too) into his food. I can take her away and tell him to eat. I can leave her outside, scratching at the glass door but it makes no difference. Major simply backs away until she has taken her fill.
Seeing the light at last, or so I believed, I began to give the cat her own bowl of dog food - twelve large chunks - meted out with the bowl of her own kitty nibbles. It is welcomed but it has not stopped the threat.
She eats part, keeps more to graze on through the day, and bounds eagerly across the room for any extras she can get from the hungry pooch. He backs away, even from the leftovers I give him, so that she can always go first.
I'd call him a patsy but it somehow seems unfair to denigrate such lovely tenderness.
There is, however, one time when the retriever will push his (is there any doubt?) cat to the side. That's when I offer him the leftovers of his dog food in her bowl.
That's fair game, right?
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org