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I stepped on Nick’s paw yesterday — unintentional, for sure. It was actually just like that old saying professes — Cats-Under-Foot-Get-Stepped-On — and he was underfoot and thus stepped on. He likes to sniff out the kitchen floor in the morning in case there are any culinary treats that may have fallen there. A blueberry, perhaps? Or, maybe, a nice morsel of green bean (one of his favorites)? He usually finds something. (I admit, that this does not say much about my housekeeping skills of late. I used to be much better. Are dirty kitchen floors yet another sign of aging?) Whatever he was doing down there — a paw got smashed by an old-smelly Birkenstock. Evidently, this was the Crime of all Crimes. There was such an uproar. The cries that came out of that poor wounded animal were enough to wake the spirits of all my departed cats. You’d have thought I had truly skinned him and hung him up to dry. Rose joined in with howls of her own perhaps, in support of her brother, but more likely from fear that I might just do the same to her.  I turned around to apologize but by then Nick had skedaddled upstairs to hide under the covers on the bed where no Birkenstock could attack him. Rose recovered quickly enough to finish up all the food that Nick had left behind.

He stayed up there all day — except for one time when he sneaked by me. When I heard the crunch of food I went out sweetly apologizing yet again. He was having none of that — he bolted. Shot past me and those Birkenstocks and headed back up for the comfort and safety of his den. I felt bad, I really did. I thought he could starve if this went on too long. Rose was secretly hoping for just that — Double Portions Forever More.  Amen.

Maybe it’s the Birkenstocks that are his real enemy. If I got rid of them and maybe wore fluffy, bunny slippers around the house instead, I’d be back in Nick’s good opinion. Those sandals are long overdue to have been thrown away but I have hung on to them even with the ripe smell that exudes from them in the summer. I remember when I bought them the woman at the store said that anyone with bad knees like I had should always wear Birkenstocks around the house. And I have — ever since — the same pair. But if Nick associates a squashed paw with these clunky, double strapped shoes — why not cut my losses and get rid of them now before they bring out more than howls from my hiding pet?

My sister, Nancy, had a dog once called Sweetie Pie. This dog hated tennis shoes and, by default, anyone who was wearing tennis shoes.  As a result, if anyone ventured into the house through the front, back or side door, she — the dog not Nancy — let out a snarl, a growl scary enough to get them to BACK OFF. She was a great watchdog — as long as the intruder was wearing sneakers. Nancy always surmised that this poor little animal was probably abused by someone wearing said footwear. Understandable reaction, eh? However, as the popularity of people wearing tennis shoes for all occasions increased — Sweetie Pie’s popularity among family and friends diminished. Some were wise enough to choose another style of footwear when they came to visit.

I don’t have that many visitors and even fewer who wear Birkenstocks so I think I’ll keep the shoes for a while longer and hope Nick doesn’t object.

Nick finally surfaced for a longer visit yesterday evening, but wouldn’t venture onto the black-and-white tiles of the kitchen for his dinner. He was taking no chances. He waited for delivery of his meal at the bottom of the stairs. I obliged him this once without any sarcasm about there not being any delivery service in this house. As I reached down to pet him, he purred once and then turned and took a nice little nip at my knuckles. I was not forgiven.

I wonder how long he’ll remember? Do cats carry grudges like humans do? How long will I have to suffer the guilt for my innocent chomp down on that little paw? I just hope this doesn’t turn into a cat version of passive-aggressive behavior. A little nip on the knuckles I can take but not that! Please.

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