Dogs Have Owners, Cats Have Staff

Fuji and Pogo relaxing after a tough day

My grandmother and mother were vehemently anti-cat, almost to the point of phobic, so growing up I had no contact with felines.  Apparently dogs made the cut because we had one starting when I was nine.

Years later, after my third dog died, no family member was up for city  dog walking.  I felt that my young daughters (and I) needed what was then called a “pet” and in today’s PC world, an “animal companion.”  Enter Tinkerbelle, a laid-back ginger cat with numerous tricks up her, um, paw.  No question who was in charge–in her last years, my husband dispensed her water from a wine glass (no neck bending required) and cooked  chicken livers to tempt her failing appetite. After Tink came Sushi, who dealt with one episode of house moving by retreating to a closet shelf for three days.  When she shuffled off to the great litter pan in the sky, my husband was so wrecked, almost a year went by before he would consider thinking about another kitten.

On the way to the Second Chance Animal Shelter in Shaftsbury, VT,

I suggested he might feel less disloyal if we adopted two kittens. We left with six-week old litter mates, Pogo, (tiger, named after Al Capp’s famous possum because both have ring tails) and Fuji (a tortoiseshell, named for our nod to things Asian.)


I’m writing this and simultaneously cringing because I don’t think of myself as someone who carries on about her pets. My sentimental button must be switched on.

Fuji and Pogo clearly never read their handbook. They don’t know they should hate water, dill sauce or asparagus.  Left-pawed Pogo uses the  raccoon-scoop technique to drink. Every evening,Fuji   shoots to my side to drop her toy octopus, (the day’s ‘kill’ ), at my feet.

Fuji with Octo

Here’s a little ditty for P and F to the tune of “You’re the Top,” with deep apologies to Cole Porter.

You’re the top
You’re the cat’s pajama
You’re the top
Give the best cat karma
You love olive oil, arugula and steak
When I make a salad or spread the butter I get no break.

You’re the top
Cat TV—birds flying
Nap for hours—full of snores and sighing
You like shopping bags, the bathtub and all guests;
And if they’re allergic, you work it harder as total pests.

You’re the top
Let me kitty-pedi
All eight paws, holding nice and steady
Hate your carriers, adore your Dorset digs;
On The New York Times you stretch your spines for reading gigs

You’re the top
As your staff we know it
All our clothes have cat hair to show it
Our infatuation with you never stops
‘Cause as kitties go you girls are just the tops!

Originally, I didn’t plan to include a recipe as I draw the line at crafting  feline treats. But as I was trying to get lunch on the table (squirt gun in hand to fend off marauders), it was pretty clear that salmon salad got an A++ on the cat eating scale so herewith:

Salmon Salad

1/2 lb. cold poached salmon (this  also works with canned salmon -not as delicious but less work)

1/2 dill sauce (mayonnaise with 3 T chopped fresh dill mixed in–or use plain mayo

2 T fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, cover, refrigerate and let sit for a few hours to meld the flavors. Remove and bring to room temperature. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve on a bed of pretty lettuce. Or, make it into a sandwich–more lettuce, more dressing if you like gloppy sandwiches.

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