Editor’s note: In the aftermath of several editorial columns referencing the importance of animals, particularly dogs, in the lives of people, we received the following correspondence:
I felt obligated to write U.S. 1 defending the species — call it a cat tale. But it is not a one-off story of a cat but of many cats — those poor maligned creatures criticized by dog owners and people who have never been “owned” by a cat, or people who have never had the capability to see through “kitty’s aloof-ness” or do not take joy in finding out what cats are really like. It does require a desire to do so, and a brain that enjoys relationships that are quirky — and subtle.
One must learn to think like a cat. Dogs do not require work — generally they simply adore — I will admit that I am not the sort who likes to be adored just because I offer food.
Take for example the young cat that I adopted from the Decorators’ Consignment Gallery in Hopewell. Bev Kidder, the owner, fosters cats from shelters. She takes them into her shop and showcases them to those who “think” they are coming to buy furniture. I was one of the folks who walked in to have a look — at the furniture (ha) — and was seduced by the loveliest of cats.
She spied me from afar and came right over to say hi. She made especially deep eye contact — and each time that I returned to see if I could resist adopting her the story repeated. She started coming to my whistle — I had no food, she just loved me.
What does a person do? Kindred spirits are irresistible — we are family. She moved in.
Three years later she has continued to be that sort of cat. She comes for walks with me — no leash, We go out into the field behind our house and she shows me how to stalk. She chases my golf balls when I practice shots in the rough. She is always waiting for us when we come home, with nose kisses — just happy to have our company. We return when we want to — as she uses her litter box! Good feature — as we love parties.
I have been able to teach her to sit up and shake paws (ambidextrously), kiss my nose on command, roll over, and she still comes to the whistle. She travels with us and checks motel rooms for mice. She sleeps quietly on her blanket — all night — between my husband and myself- and enjoys it when I brush her coat.
Her name, Pog ma hone or Pog Mo Thone (there are several different spellings in the Irish language dictionary), does suggest that she still has her feline moments. We love them too. Do check out the translation while you are checking the spelling.
Honorable mention: My dearly departed cat Pickle Puss enjoyed riding on my shoulders when biked, but most amazing, when I walked out horses that I worked as a trainer, he would climb up my leg — with out scratching me — and again position himself, my fur stole. That action would always be accompanied by a well aimed kiss in my ear.
So, editor, my cat tales. Needed: an advo-cat.
— Ardeth Black
A Lawrenceville resident, Black has been a professional equestrian for more than 50 years working with both horse and rider in Europe and the United States.
“My specialty is difficult horses,” she says. “I enjoy helping owners to ride and train their animals. I like sharing my quirky techniques. As an aside, I do think cats and horses share similarities in the way you need to present yourself to become their buddies — that is why I enjoy them. Dogs are of course fun to work with too, but very different.”