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Spring brings dose of cat scratch fever

Saturday, May 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Murray the cat jumped on the bed, stretched out and, whatdoyaknow, showed off a fresh sore spot in his gray pelt. Murray seemed completely unconcerned. He sort of let me look at his wound and then bounced off the bed.

I turned to the No. 1 suspect. Max was lying on the bed, swishing his tail. He did not look innocent. Adult felines cannot look innocent. Once they leave kittenhood, most pussycats look like Persons of Interest.

And Max and Murray are not friends. If they had guns and thumbs, they would have blasted each other long ago.

But Max wasn’t the only suspect. A kitty had been spotted outside a few times, and the boys had gone a few rounds with it before. The bite wound could have come from the interloper.

When I took Murray to the vet the next day, the office was busy with cat-fight casualties. The vet sighed and said it always happens this time of year.

That’s when many pussycats turn into battling moonstruck knuckleheads — even if surgery has turned them into eunuchs. (Proof once again that you can’t treat all your problems with a scalpel.)

Owners everywhere are dealing with kitties as desperate to leave the house as any grounded teenager. And if they don’t get their way, cats can create misery for their wardens as creatively as any kid.

Some of them work themselves into a little frenzy — kind of like the Sharks and the Jets and Anita and Maria and Tony in “West Side Story.”

The cats are gonna have their day

Tonight.

The cats are gonna have their way

Tonight.

The next door tabby grumbles, “Fair fight.”

But if he starts to rumble,

We’ll rumble him right. …

Fluffy’s gonna get her kicks

Tonight

Tender Vittles can’t compare to this

Tonight.

By day I’m sweet and docile,

So what?

I’ll get downright hostile

If I’m not out

Tonight.

(Everybody sing)

Tonight, tonight

Won’t be just any night

Tonight cats will dance on your carrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Tonight, tonight, I’ll see my love tonight,

And for this, I will ramble long, wide and farrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Today

My naps went on for hours,

The hours go so slowly,

And still the sky is light …

Oh moon, grow brightly

And make this endless day endless night

Tonight!

At my house, the kitties want out the second I get home from work. An hour later, they bang on the bottom of the door to be let in. In, out. Out, in. In, out. Out, in. It’s closing time, 11 o’clock, Max rushes the door.

“I must go out.”

“You’ve been out.”

“I’ve gotta go out now.”

“Why now?”

“Because all the fun is happening now.”

“What?”

“Look, Mom, all I know is the heart wants what it wants.”

“Do not quote Woody Allen to me.”

“Don’t blame me. It’s your imagination.”

“How ’bout I don’t let you out and we all go to bed?”

“I’ll just race back and forth and up and down and back and forth and up and down across the bed, and then I’ll jump up on your dresser and knock everything off and then you’ll chase me and no one will get any sleep.”

I look at the dog.

“Let him go,” she advises.

I open the door.

Max shoots out. And I swear I can hear him sing as he scampers away:

“Tonight, tonight…”

Mary Lawrence teaches editing at the Missouri School of Journalism and has worked at The Indianapolis News, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Stars and Stripes and The Marion (Ohio) Star.


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