54: Peanut the Pioneer

54: Peanut the Pioneer

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

Peanut the Pioneer

In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats.

~English Proverb

Learning that my wife was pregnant? Jubilation. Shopping for the lengthy list of necessities at baby stores? Slightly overwhelming. Knowing how those products work? Quite the challenge.

“Honey, not to sound clueless, but I’m completely in the dark about what some of these products do,” I told my wife, Joy.

“Don’t worry. We will learn it together,” she responded happily.

Following our baby shower, I wore out the asphalt on the driveway carrying in a plethora of boxes of all different sizes with objects that were “foreign” to me inside. In a matter of minutes, we had a mountain of gifts in our living room. How on earth were we going to figure out how to use all these things? Our cat Peanut was eyeing the gifts with some curiosity. Why not let him test some of these products for our soon-to-arrive bundle of joy?

Peanut was an extraordinary feline, and I often wondered if he truly was an invertebrate. He could twist and turn his body in the most peculiar positions that would make even gymnasts and acrobats grimace and gasp. If he was any longer, he could be the reigning champ at Twister.

The first item we tore into was a BabyBjorn, (which I finally learned to pronounce after several failed attempts). This thing is designed to hold the baby in front of the parent’s torso so that the parent doesn’t have to constantly hold the baby. When it was time for Peanut to showcase this item for us, he came scrambling toward us with no idea what we planned. As I picked him up, I whispered into his ear, “Big guy, you are going to be rewarded with many snacks for helping us out.”

Trembling a bit with excitement and nerves, I lowered each of his cooperative hind legs into the two openings of the contraption. Once he was in it, he actually looked very tranquil. Joy and I laughed at the sight of Peanut getting an aerial view of our living room while in the BabyBjorn. After I took a few laps around the coffee table with my fluffy friend, we suddenly heard a loud, booming sound coming from him. Indeed, he was purring loudly.

“Unbelievable! He loves it! This thing really must be cozy for babies and… cats. This gift is a keeper,” Joy said enthusiastically.

Feeling positive about our first experiment, we decided Peanut should try the play station. From a child’s perspective, this was like Disney World! It included colorful shakers that made gentle sounds, a flexible, vivid sun that was as soft as cotton, and realistic farm animal sounds with a simple press of the button.

Shortly after it was assembled, Peanut meandered over to us, as if on cue. He took a seat in the play station and starting jabbing at the plastic sun like a boxer, turning it this way and that. “Unbelievable! Even Rocky Balboa would be proud of Peanut’s moves in there,” exclaimed Joy.

After the sun was literally down for the count, Peanut swiveled around to his next victim: the shakers. Sniffing each one carefully, he slowly tapped one of the three oddly shaped objects, which produced a high-pitched noise. Unfazed by the sound, he quickly moved over to the other two noisemakers, but seemed bored by them. Without hesitation, he moved to the station that made realistic animal sounds that included a cow, cat, dog, and pig. Since he appeared baffled by what to do, I pressed the cat noise first. His reaction was hilarious! He twisted his head to the side and stared at the speaker intently. I pressed it again with the same result. As I was going to press it a third time with my eyes focused on Peanut, my finger must’ve slipped and I pressed the dog, which sounded like a St. Bernard barking. Without hesitation, Peanut’s ears went back, and his whole body started to squirm like a worm. Understanding that he was terrified of this sound, I immediately took him out.

Joy and I concluded that Peanut liked moveable objects more than noisy objects. It took a few minutes for him to come back into the room, but when he did, I generously gave him a small handful of meaty treats. All was forgiven.

Shortly after Peanut graciously tried out some of these gifts, my son was born. Fortunately for us, he was not allergic to cats. After passing that hurdle, we wondered how Peanut would react to our son, Colin. It didn’t take long for that question to be answered.

On the first night that I gave my son a bottle of milk using the Boppy, a plush feeding pillow, Peanut wandered over to the rocking chair where I was nervously sitting, suspiciously licking his chops. Peanut touched the Boppy a couple of times and then started licking Colin’s feet. I couldn’t believe it! He had accepted Colin.

Peanut’s involvement didn’t end when Colin was a newborn. Several months later, as I put Colin into his crib, I grabbed Peanut, nuzzled him, and plopped him on the Boppy the way he liked it best — inverted. I rocked him and said how much he helped us through this new experience by teaching us to be patient and to understand someone else’s feelings through careful observation. As he lay there on the cozy Boppy, I noticed something on his chin. As I brought him over to the light, I detected what I feared. Like butter on bread, pureed green beans were spread all over his fur. It made sense since I didn’t clean up the unwanted portion of vegetables from the table. But never did I think Peanut would dive into it. I was wrong. It appears that he wanted to try out everything that we brought home, even the food.

Curiosity might not kill the cat, but it sure makes things a bit messy.

~Austin Tamillo

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