Vila The Cat
A friend of mine (Dragonfae at http://www.dragonfae.wordpress.com) wrote recently about buying a special breed of cat that is supposed to be very dog-like. Well, that reminded me of an incident (warning – that phrase is gonna be my “Once Upon A Time”, so future warning. ;) )
About 20 years ago, while we were still living in the Chicago area, a couple of friends of ours got booted from their apartment, and needed a place to live for a while, so we rented them our basement. Since our house was a split-level, it worked fine – we used the upstairs, they used the “rec room” finished basement, and the kitchen and living-room were “common areas”. When they moved in, they brought their cat, Vila.
Now, a bit of background. I had been raised with dogs. When MUCH younger, we had raised white mice (a late 60s thing). At this point in time, though, we had no pets – our 3 pet rats (Sonny, Rico and Marty – guess what our favourite show was!) had just recently died, so Vila was an “only pet”. Bear in mind, as well, that I had NEVER had any exposure to cats at all.
Our friends spent a lot of time on the road, going to sci-fi conventions and selling fanzines and artwork, so I was home with Vila after work. And, having no pet of my own, I turned my training talents towards the poor cat. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to teach cats like you teach dogs, so I just trained Vila as if he were a dog. Oddly enough, it worked quite well. Not only did I get Vila to “sit” and “give paw”, but I was actually able to get him to “speak” – he’d let out a quick, short “rare”-sounding kind of meow, which sounded for all the world like a bark! Needless to say, his owner was not overly pleased with my turning his cat into a dog, but his roommate LOVED it!
One particular event stands out. The guys had been home for a few days, and had gotten Vila a catnip-filled ball on a string. Now, again, I knew bupkis about cats, so I thought catnip was just like a dog treat. So I played with Vila by bopping him in the nose with the ball to get him to try to grab it, never realising the effect catnip has on a cat. Well, after a bit, Vila wandered off, and I thought nothing more of it until the next morning. I came downstairs into the living room, calling for Vila. I sat down on the couch, still calling, when a VERY hung-over Vila came up to me. He meowed rather pitifully, then turned and headed for the kitchen. He tried to use first the couch, then the first step to the upstairs as something to lean against, to hold him upright while he wobbily walked towards the kitchen.. Unfortunately, he forgot that the door to the basement was open…..
Yep. The next thing I hear is “thump thump thump” as poor Vila fell through the open doorway, down the seven stairs (carpeted, thankfully) into the rec room, whereupon he let out the most plaintive “meow?” you’ve ever heard! (No worries, he was unharmed.)
The moral of this story? Don’t let a guy who speaks “dog” fluently train your cat……