39: Cat Rules for the Multi-Cat Home

39: Cat Rules for the Multi-Cat Home

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

Cat Rules for the Multi-Cat Home

A cat sees no good reason why it should obey another animal, even if it does stand on two legs.

~Sarah Thompson

“So what’s another cat?” I heard myself saying, knowing that we had no choice in the matter. We already had four cats, and when my son’s wife was told she had to get rid of their cats for her health, we had to take them in. You do things like that for family.

If you own a cat, you know a new warm furry body added to the mix changes things. In our case, it was two new warm furry bodies.

We had to set up new rules, though we knew there was no way we were going to be able to enforce them. We knew how effective rules and regulations would be to cats. Cats simply have no need for rules. You can make as many rules as you want, and you can use repetition and positive reinforcement to try to teach them, but with cats, it just does not work. With six cats, I knew I might as well pack my bags and move to a cheap hotel. Sure, it was my house according to the mortgage statement, but I knew who really ruled the roost.

My Unenforceable Feline Regulations

1. Buttercup does not belong in the refrigerator, even when there is leftover turkey on the bottom shelf.

2. Zorro does not belong in my office because he eats paper, but Cleopatra does belong in the office because she is perfectly behaved and likes to pretend she’s my secretary.

3. When there is a little snag in the bedroom window screen, Peaches may not pull on it with her nails, even when there is a bird sitting on the ledge on the other side.

4. Smokey must use the litter box, even though he prefers the corner by the fireplace in the living room.

5. Samson does not belong on the back counter because there is a stove that’s often hot, and we don’t want Samson to burn his cute little nose off.

6. Zorro may think he is a brave renegade who can carve a “Z” with his claws, but he cannot sharpen them on my couch or my bedspread or my carpet or my jeans.

7. If Smokey is eating, because Smokey doesn’t always have a big appetite and, in his old age, is getting very skinny, none of the baby cats may disturb him. Even Buttercup cannot push her little kitten face into Smokey’s bowl, not even just to see what it is he is eating.

8. If one cat is asleep in a sink and a bigger cat comes along and wants the same sink, adult humans will not interfere with the decision-making process, no matter how loud Buttercup screams, unless it wakes us up. Then no one gets a sink and the bathroom is closed for the night.

9. Smokey may know how to open closet doors, but he may not teach the baby cats how to do this until they are old enough to not eat expensive fabrics or dry-cleaner bags or pull on hanging threads.

10. When Mommy has a client in the office, Buttercup and Zorro may not come in, unless the client loves cats and wants one or two on his lap.

11. Visa receipts and checks are not cat food.

12. When Mommy and Daddy have company, cats do not belong on the dining room table, but when there is no company, cats may walk on the table as long as they walk around the plates and not through them.

13. Buttercup may not take Mommy’s glasses and hide them behind the washing machine because Mommy can’t see well enough without them to find them.

14. Scrabble tiles and Monopoly pieces are not cat toys. Neither are pieces of jigsaw puzzles or Legos.

15. Zorro is not allowed in the bathroom when someone is taking a bath unless he promises not to try to swim ever again.

16. The only time Buttercup, Zorro, Peaches, Samson, Smokey, and Cleopatra are allowed outside or in the garage is when they are in their travel boxes on the way to the mean old vet.

17. Cleopatra may only sit on homework after it has been handed in and graded.

18. Cats may not investigate electric appliances. Humans are responsible for putting all electrical appliances in drawers or, at least, pulling their plugs.

19. Cleopatra may not stretch her body out on the wall where the on/off switch to the sink disposal is.

20. When Mommy and Daddy are asleep, cats may not come up on the bed to kiss their faces, but when cats are asleep, Mommy and Daddy may pick them up and do anything they want to them because they are just so cute when they are asleep and there is such a thing as equal time.

~Felice Prager

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