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the cat Nuisance

Scruffy Treats

    Everyone thinks I'm named after him, but I'm really not. My Master would never do such a thing.  The truth is, my name is Nuisance (my Master says I really earned the appellation, whatever that means), and for years I have been "Newt" for short. Then he came along. Phooey!
    I was a stray. People all over the neighborhood called me "the nuisance cat", because I was breaking into houses and stealing food.  (A guy's gotta live.) But then my Master took me in and cleaned me up and straightened me out and I have been flying right ever since.
    Well, not always. A few years ago, I disappeared over the Labor Day weekend. My Master went door - to - door looking for me, and everyone she talked to had a story. The people across the alley said I was always in their basement. The man next door said that if he left a window open or a door ajar, I would come in and make myself at home. Sara down the block said I knocked her cat off the roof! (I did
not -- he jumped.) And dear old Mr. Dunder said he'd seen me all over the neighborhood -- but not this weekend.
    Finally, about nine o'clock Monday night, my Master was looking out the window and saw the people across the street drive into their garage. A couple of minutes later, I was on our doorstep. She said she'd never seen a cat like me. I guess that's just about the best compliment a fellow can get.
    Really though, there
are a lot of cats like me - wonderful cats (and dogs) who don't have a home. Some are on the streets, living any way they can. Some are in animal shelters, or at the Pound -- where they may be killed because there are so many of them. Bring some home to live with you, and they will bring joy and comfort and adventure to your life. They will even help you write your web page!


Washing Cats
a brief essay in honor of Nuisance
        Cat washers fall into two philosophical schools, that of the ship-shape, neat & tidy idealists, and a somewhat larger and more cynical group who have had real world experience in washing cats.
    The neat & tidies take their cue from the indefatigable Martha Stewart, who advised that "It is not necessary to wash your cat more than once a month." This statement leaves the real-worlders whomper-jawed.
    The cat is a strong, agile mammalian quadruped who comes equipped with some twenty long, sharp pointy toenails (commonly called claws) and a willingness to use them at the first sign of trouble. As befits his jungle ancestry, he also sports a mouthful of fangs, evolved especially for the purpose of tearing apart prey - or the soap-bearing hand.
    Should such drastic action be deemed necessary, the first step in washing the cat is to immerse him in water, a substance most cats hate. A garden hose at twenty feet is most effective from a safety standpoint, though this method makes Step Two, the application of soap, all the more difficult. Keters Boggs of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming once achieved a full baptism of his cat, Fluffy, by the simple expedient of eating a ham sandwich in the tub. The cat reached for it, and fell in. Unfortunately, the effect upon both the ham sandwich and Keter's tender underbelly rendered the project not worth the effort.
    Soap should be of the gentlest variety possible, both to avoid stinging the cat's eyes, and because he will run off before the final rinse. Little toweling is necessary, as the cat will rush to the top of the nearest tree, there to be blow-dried by the wind. Be sure to have plenty of coffee and cookies on hand to offer the firemen when they come to fetch him down.

Cat Talk
    "A dog will make eye contact. A cat will, too, but a cat's eyes don't even look entirely warm-blooded to me, whereas a dog's eyes look human except less guarded. A dog will look at you as if to say, 'What do you want me to do for you? I'll do anything for you.' Whether a dog can in fact, do anything for you if you don't have sheep (I never have) is another matter. The dog is willing."
       -- Roy Blount, Jr

    "A cat may look at a king," said Alice. "I've read that in some book, but I don't remember where."
       -- Lewis Carroll,
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

    "She was so propre and sweete and likerous,
I dar wel sayn, if she hadde been a mous,
And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anoon."
       -- Geoffrey Chaucer,
The Miller's Tale 

    "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, as long at it can catch mice."
        -- Chinese proverb

    "A cat that catches mice does not meow."
       -- Chinese proverb

    "Every life has a love story, even though the beloved may be imaginary, or a cat."
       -- Mason Cooley

    "The cat owes man nothing. Some experts estimate that there is one homeless cat managing on its own for every one with a home, which makes a total cat population in the U.S. of more than fifty million. That means the largest nonhuman animal population in the nation, short of rodents, whose number is beyond estimate. Eliminate cats from our ecology and, in a matter of weeks, we would be overrun by rodents."
       -- Paul Corey,
Do Cats Think? Notes Of A Cat-Watcher, 1977

    "Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons."
       -- Robertson Davies

    "Cat-lovers will no doubt point out that the elegance and dignity of cats are the consequence of their sojourn in the temples of the gods, where their attitudes and movements were regarded as divine prognostications."
       -- Philippe Diolé,
French biologist

    "Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that humans belong to the same class of animals as cats and cows and raccoons. They're like the people who become successful and then don't want to be reminded of the old neighborhood."
       -- Phil Donahue

    "The dog is mentioned in the Bible eighteen times-the cat not even once."
       -- W.E. Farbstein.

    "I don't want her to have a cat because she'll end up talking baby talk to the cat. That's the way it is, and how can a P.I. do that?"
       --  Sue Grafton,
on why the private-investigator heroine of her novels will never have a cat.

    "The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:   
A whisker first and then a claw,   20
  With many an ardent wish,   
She stretch'd in vain to reach the prize.   
What female heart can gold despise?   
What Cat 's averse to fish?"
       -- Thomas Gray,
On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes

    "You call to a dog and a dog will break its neck to get to you. Dogs just want to please. Call to a cat and its attitude is, 'What's in it for me?'"
       -- Lewis Grizzard 

    "While the rest of the human race are descended from monkeys, redheads derive from cats."
       -- Robert Heinlein,
To Sail Beyond the Sunset

    "How you behave towards cats here below determines you status in Heaven."
       -- Robert Heinlein, 
To Sail Beyond the Sunset

    "Never try to outstubborn a cat."
       -- Robert Heinlein,
Time Enough for Love

    "Where cat is, is civilization."
       -- Robert Heinlein,
The Number of the Beast

    "Women and Cats do what they do; there is nothing a man can do about it."
       -- Robert Heinlein,
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

    "A cat is an excuse for a lonely woman to talk to herself."
       -- Mark Helprin,
Winter's Tale

     "Nature breaks through the eyes of the cat."
       -- Irish proverb....

    "Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."
       -- Joseph Wood Krutch,
The Twelve Seasons

    "No cat out of its first fur was ever deceived by appearances, unlike human beings, who seem to enjoy it."
The Last Unicorn (1982)

    "If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air."
       -- Doris Lessing,
Particularly Cats

    "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."
       -- Abraham Lincoln

    "Only two animals have entered the human household otherwise than as prisoners and become domesticated by other means than those of enforced servitude: the dog and the cat. Two things they have in common, namely, that both belong to the order of carnivores and both serve man in their capacity of hunters. In all other charac teristics, above all in the manner of their association with man, they are as different as the night from the day. There is no domestic animal which has so radically altered its whole way of living, indeed its whole sphere of interests, that has become domestic in so true a sense as the dog: and there is no animal that, in the course of its century-old association with man, has altered so little as the cat. There is some truth in the assertion that the cat, with the exception of a few luxury breeds, such as Angora, Persians, and Siamese, is no domestic animal but a completely wild being. Maintaining its full independence it has taken up its abode in the houses and outhouses of man, for the simple reason that there are more mice there than elsewhere."
       -- Konrad Lorenz,
Man Meets Dog, 1953 (trans. 1954).

    "Women don't like timid men. Cats do not like prudent mice."
       -- H. L. Mencken

    "When I play with my cat, who knows but that she regards me more as a plaything that I do her?"
        -- Michel de Montaigne

    "Cats are autocrats of naked self-interest. They are both amoral and immoral, consciously breaking rules. Their 'evil' look at such times is no human projection: the cat may be the only animal who savors the perverse or reflects upon it."
       -- Camille Paglia

    "Rewarding a cat is a waste of time. They think they deserve the best whatever they do."
       -- Elizabeth Peters,
He Shall Thunder in the Sky

    "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life -- music and cats."
       -- Albert Schweitzer

    "For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry. For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him. For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way. For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness."
       -- Christopher Smart,
Jubilate Agno

    "For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat. For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon. For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit."
       -- Christopher Smart,

    "Nowadays we don't think much of a man's love for an animal; we laugh at people who are attached to cats. But if we stop loving animals, aren't we bound to stop loving humans too?"
       -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn,
Cancer Ward

    "We recognize caste in dogs because we rank ourselves by the familiar dog system, a ladderlike social arrangement wherein one individual outranks all others, the next outranks all but the first, and so on down the hierarchy. But the cat system is more like a wheel, with a high-ranking cat at the hub and the others arranged around the rim, all reluctantly acknowledging the superiority of the despot but not necessarily measuring themselves against one another."
       -- Elizabeth Marshall Thomas,
Strong and Sensitive Cats

    "What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing about the origin and destiny of cats?"
       -- Henry David Thoreau

    "The most domestic cat, which has lain on a rug all her days, appears quite at home in the woods, and, by her sly and stealthy behavior, proves herself more native there than the regular inhabitants."
       -- Henry David Thoreau 

    "A few years before I lived in the woods there was what was called a "winged cat" in one of the farmhouses.... This would have been the right kind of cat for me to keep, if I had kept any; for why should not a poet's cat be winged as well as his horse?"
       -- Henry David Thoreau

    "You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does--but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you'll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw."
       -- Mark Twain

    "A home without a cat--and a wellfed, well-petted and properly revered cat--may be a home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?"
       -- Mark Twain 

    "Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
       -- Mark Twain 

    "I've always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals.... I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in."
       -- Anne Tyler,
The Accidental Tourist

    "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can not get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."
       -- Jeff Valdez

    "Did St Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats."
       -- Rebecca West,
This Real Night

    "If a dog jumps into your lap it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing it is because your lap is warmer."
       -- Alfred North Whitehead

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