Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: Life with our cat, Cairo the former Jerk

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This is the reality of owning a cat: You will buy him a soft, cushy cat bed. And a 6-foot-tall kitty condo. And various other comfy places to rest his head, exhausted from knocking things off the shelves all day. And the cat will sleep on a folded towel on the breakfast bar.

This has been the routine around our house lately with our newish Siamese cat, Cairo, and I have to admit I’ve been sucked into it, to the point that I make sure he has a nice towel to sleep on every night. In fact, I will wake him up to put him on the towel, which means he will give me the eye and look grumpy.

Does anyone need a 6-foot-tall kitty condo? Because Cairo never goes near it, even though it’s brand new and was purchased and assembled just so his Royal Highness could enjoy it. I don’t even know why I did that, because our former tuxedo kitty, Jeeves, also never touched his cat condo, until I sold it to someone for $20.

I also spent $29.95 to buy Cairo a sort of fabric tunnel that’s supposed to be fun for cats. Um, no. People told me, “Oh, put cat treats in it. Then he’ll start using it.” Um, no. He did eventually go in to get the treats, then he was out of there like greased lightning.

Cairo came from a shelter, where he’d been surrendered by a woman whose mother had sadly passed away. She couldn’t keep him because she was allergic. So it seems like he probably never spent a night on the streets, and we suspect he’d never even had dealings with a dog, because our pooch, Lil Wayne, really seemed to throw him at first. He didn’t know what to do with this fluffy white animated stuffed animal, who bounced around trying to get him to play, so he just hissed at him and swatted.

This terrified our dog, who went and hid in the back of the closet after repeated attacks. We started calling the cat Cairo the Jerk. He was none too fond of me, either, though he worships my son, Cheetah Boy, like a god. When the son dares to go into the bathroom and close the door, Cairo wails like he’s been thrown into the gates of Dante’s Inferno, and he keeps wailing until the son emerges, no matter how long that takes.

Now, here’s the thing: After two months, Cairo is starting to settle down and decide that he likes living here, and no one’s going to hurt him (except to step on his tail when he’s in the way, which is most of the time.)

He now really wants the dog to play with him, except Lil Wayne isn’t having any of it. He will walk up and meow loudly a few millimeters from Lil Wayne’s face in what is clearly a “Hey, I’m bored, play with me” expression. The dog not only doesn’t play with him, he doesn’t even acknowledge him. So, then, the cat hisses at him and swipes at him, and sometimes Lil Wayne will then lunge at him, causing the cat to run away.

For awhile, I thought this was an unfortunate skirmish. But now I’m starting to think it’s some sort of dysfunctional playtime. The jury is still out. Meanwhile, I was astonished the other day to see Lil Wayne walk up and lick Cairo’s face repeatedly. Cairo did not react. So the interspecies friendship is still in doubt.

Meanwhile, I only have one goal: Keep this stupid cat off my kitchen counters. My friend and former colleague Frank Mickadeit — the columnist — wrote a book many years ago called “Cats on the Counters” or how to curb your pet’s unwelcome habits. I need to dig it out and read it again.

When I tell Cairo to “get down” off my counters, he mostly just ignores me. If he does react, it’s to look at me like, “What is your problem, lady?” He seems to be completely unfamiliar with the idea that there are places he’s not allowed to go.

I’m a cat lover. but I’ve always found it disgusting when people let their cats on their kitchen counters and tables. I’m starting to reassess that situation. It’s hard to believe this tiny creature can control my behavior better than I can control his, but I’m afraid that’s all too true.

I truly do not understand how I was able to raise two productive, (reasonably) law-abiding children to adulthood, but I can’t train an animal to save my life. Yes, Lil Wayne will sit when I tell him, but usually when I have a treat in my hand.

Clearly this 18-month-old cat has always been allowed to do whatever he wants, and I’m just putty in his hands. We do keep him indoors, for safety’s sake, and he mostly respects that. He’s gotten out into the back yard a few times, but he’s a little scared of outdoor life, so he’s easy to catch.

Meanwhile, I bought him an automatic feeder so he will stop waking us up at 4 a.m. to give him breakfast. I don’t intend to buy him anything else. He likes our cardboard Amazon boxes the best, anyway.