20: Love Me, I’m Siamese

20: Love Me, I’m Siamese

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Love Me, I’m Siamese

Cats invented self-esteem.

~Erma Bombeck

My fiancé and I agreed on most things, but not when it came to pets. I grew up with dogs, but he was a cat person. Reluctantly, I admitted that a cat was the practical choice for an apartment, especially with both of us working.

I had little experience with cats of any type when I surprised my husband-to-be with a Siamese kitten. He was thrilled and named her “Puss” — not very creative but she was his cat so what could I say?

Friends warned me too late that Siamese cats are in a class by themselves and not a good choice for a first-time cat owner. If you have never experienced one, maybe you saw the movie Lady and the Tramp. Remember when the Siamese cats sang, “We are Siamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don’t please”? They meant it.

I knew cats tended to be aloof, but I’d seen other cats purr contentedly when petted. Puss swatted my hand away. When she wanted attention, however, she refused to take “no” for an answer. Often while my husband read the newspaper at the kitchen table, she jumped up and swatted the paper from the other side. At first, my husband just lowered the paper, smiled, said, “Hello, Puss” and gave her head a quick stroke before he went back to reading. Puss kept swatting until he put the paper down and devoted all his attention to her. She soon had him trained to stop reading on first swat. Who said husbands can’t be trained?

More than once I found her a few feet above the floor, clinging to the sheer curtains on the living room windows, her belly flat against a curtain and her legs splayed. Was that her way of enjoying the breeze or had she pounced in attack mode as the curtains swayed? Maybe she wanted to get to the window ledge? We never knew because neither my husband nor I ever saw her jump onto the curtain, but numerous little holes from her claws in the curtains proved she did it often.

Kitchen drawers began opening by themselves. The “ghost” was Puss, who sneaked into the lower cabinets and pushed against the drawers above. Who can predict what a cat considers entertainment?

Her strangest habit of all was napping in the bathtub. Even during winter, when I thought she would prefer a warmer spot, she often chose the tub for her afternoon siesta.

One day I decided to pamper myself with a leisurely soak in the tub instead of showering. Home alone, I closed the bathroom door only partway. While luxuriating in the warm water I saw the bathroom door move. Puss sauntered in parallel to the tub and paused opposite my feet. We exchanged glances and I assumed she was miffed because I usurped her territory.

Suddenly she jumped. I jolted, anticipating the fury of Hades when Puss landed in my bath. When her body arched in the air over the side of the tub and she saw the water below, every muscle tensed in horror. She reversed herself mid-flight before even one paw touched the liquid terror below. After landing safe and dry on the floor, she ignored me as she slowly strutted out of the room, head raised haughtily and tail pointed straight up.

I never saw Puss nap in the tub again. As for me, I now close the bathroom door every time I take a bath, and I still don’t attempt to understand cats.

~Janet Hartman

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