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The home cats are not happy, not one little bit. And, true to their characters, they are not subtle about letting me know their feelings. The problem is they think the service around here has deteriorated dramatically. Ever since I became the Excellent Cat Sitter, taking care of other people’s cats, they feel that I have neglected them in the process. It’s total rubbish but try convincing felines of such truths. Rose, in particular, is unhappy about the whole situation. Never one to play the passive-aggressive game when straight-forward aggressiveness will do just fine, she snorts and snickers loudly whenever I talk about my cat clients and what excellent care I am giving them. “Humph,” she grunts as she waddles back to the kitchen to graze a little longer at the kibbles only to turn her nose up at the offering. She does this just to show her disdain for the kind of food I leave out implying that I’m feeding other people’s cats better than my own. I tell her to take a look in the mirror if she thinks she has been neglected on the food front in this house.

This all came to a head when I started to take care of Buddy this week. You see, according to the home cats, this Cat Sitting Business was supposed to be ONLY for the holidays. They, Rose and Nick, were just fine celebrating the full 12 days of Christmas until January 6 since it meant visits from Renaldo and Len who doted on them and liberally handed out the Temptations. They were distracted enough that they even tolerated all my comings and goings and the smells and stories that I brought home with me of Abby and Catullus and Sappho and precocious I-am-in-love-with-me, Tomato, and even the hedgehogs, Newt and Ripley. But after the 6th everything was supposed to get back to normal. That is, we three were to go back to old routines which involved me staying home and concentrating all my cat attention on two particular black-and-whites and not take on more furry beast clients.

I tried to explain to them that Buddy needs for me to hang out with him more than the other cats. This triggered one of those, “And what are we chopped liver?” looks from them both. It’s true, I said, You two have each other, Buddy is old, slightly smelly and cries pitifully every time I open the door. He needs company. I just can’t go in and drop off some food and clean the litter and skeddadle. His owner is gone for three whole weeks so Buddy needs a whole lot of LOVE. They do their cat-rendition of tiny violins playing — they’re really quite good at that.

What I don’t tell them is that Buddy is a cuddler and I enjoy that. My beasties have never, ever been lap cats. In the ten years I’ve had them I think they have sat on my lap maybe once or twice when they were little and didn’t know any better. Rose occasionally will stand on my lap and stare at me, but only if she wants me to stop working and go and get her something in the kitchen. But that’s it. So I like this big old fur ball snuggling in and purring his old heart out to me. Who could resist him?

Then I tell them straight out, that the Excellent Cat Sitter is not going out of business just because they want me to stay home and watch them sleeping. Don’t they want that treat drawer of Temptations and Greenies to stay full? Hmmm? They know that that is a weak argument since they have Renaldo and Len wrapped around their little paws and will get them treats anytime they want. So I tell them that taking care of all of these other animals gives me a greater appreciation of just how wonderful, marvellous, incredible my little cats are. They rub my legs and climb back up the couch thinking they have won the argument. Flattery always wins them over if it is accompanied by Temptations.

What I haven’t mentioned to them yet is that I’m saving all my cat sitting money to take a trip in February. That will be another story.