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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Honey, look, she's writing about the cat again.

Cats are a mystery to me, but if there's one thing I know about them, it's that they do not, as a rule, enjoy the clumsy attentions of the five-year-old. I would imagine that they would avoid a five-year-old who wants to pet their fur against the grain (or whatever you call it), haul them under an arm like they're writhing little footballs, or give them smothering full-body hugs.

And yet. Izzy seems to not only not mind Henry's attentions; she seeks them out. If you're looking for Izzy (because you feel like, say, having a cat claw nick your carotid), you need only look for Henry. If he's watching television, she must be on his lap. If he's playing with Legos, she's right there, breaking the necks of his action figures, scooting Lego bits under the bookcase.

When we first got Izzy I lectured Henry about how to be gentle with bloodthirsty, deadly little kitty cats, but it seems my lectures were unnecessary. She endures hugs that would have me begging for air. She remains limp while he carries her around. In short, she puts up with way more than she would tolerate from any of us. I tried to carry her like that, once. I thought maybe she liked it! There were some injuries.

At first, the feeling between cat and boy was not mutual. Henry let us all know that, in his mind, the dog was #1, pet-wise. The cat was a distant second. He would tell Izzy this as she nudged his shins. "I like you, but I love Charlie." If the deafening purr was any indication, she couldn't have cared less.

When Izzy was spayed last week, the vet told Henry that we had to be extra gentle with her, and I think this has stirred up some dormant cat-love in his protective little heart. When Scott got home that night, Henry lectured him about the necessity of keeping away from her stitches and not hugging her too hard. Not that there's too much of a chance of Scott, who sees Izzy mainly as a poop manufacturer and dog tormenter, ever spontaneously embracing the cat.

So he loves her, but he still doesn't quite get what cats are all about. The other night Henry told me, apropos of nothing, "Izzy really respects us." I didn't have the heart to tell him how wrong he was.

P.S. New Wonderland post up, today.

Reader Comments (22)

Between his "I don't like meat or morals" and this latest post about how much respect your family cat has for you, Henry is killing me. The boy is a gem!JulesHouse of Jules

December 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjules
my son ethan (also 5) once had this conversation with me:

ethan: what are cats for?me: stunned silence pondering (wow, what ARE they for?) well.... they're not for anything, really.. they're pets.ethan thinks this over a minute.ethan: Cats are just love mommy.

pretty cute.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteramy
I think Izzy does respect us. Just look at how she took a chunk out of Logan's finger....before *I* even knew I was mad at him.

She knew, she just knew.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommentermelissaS
Oh, it's the fallacy of thought that never fails to disappoint. The cats, no matter how much I wish they did, do not respect the humans.

Sad. Poor Henry :)
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterelise
It's because he played hard to get with her, that's why. None of that truckling to gain her affections, the way other humans might. She probably does respect him.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent
Awhile ago, I was living with a family with small children and one was a small child of approximately 2 or 3. He used to grab Thomas (the cat) by the neck and carry him around saying "My key-key! Mine!" The cat never once scratched or bit him. It was amazing.

My sister has a cat who loves to give love bites and she was worried that he might start biting her son. Sebastian never has. However, he did bite me on the nose the other night when I was petting him.

It's like they know that the small children don't know any better.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDM
Poor Henry. It is like when the Simpsons look at that house with all the cats and the Realtor says oh no YOU would be their tenants! Then one crawls out of Marge's hair! HA!

December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
How cute. I do think Suburban Correspondent has it right--since Henry didn't immediately fawn all over Izzy, she probably DOES respect him.

My 2-year-old son has had "gentle! gentle!" drilled into him when it comes to our cats & dogs, but sometimes he forgets and yanks the youngest cat's tail until she cries. But she doesn't attack him, she just waits (and cries) until we intervene. This is the same young cat who fully believes she rules the house, regularly smacking down the other animals for no good reason at all except that they're there. Animals really do seem to understand that little kids need special handling.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTara
We have a similar cat who allows P to carry her around looking exactly like the girl in the Peanuts comic strip. We have another who never fails to scratch. They're inscrutable.

I love a blog whose commenters use words like "truckling". My vocabulary has expanded.
December 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermaria
My dog puts up with incredible abuse from my three year old and just keeps coming back for more... I have no idea why he puts up with it, but I'm thankful. Only redeeming quality the little mutt has...
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSue
It's the old "Dogs have masters, cats have servants" deal. Since I am allergic, every dang cat in the world will come to me, and put its smell on me.
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwitchypoo
There's just something about cats that I just can't get over. I think it's their attitude problem. Any animal that has as big of an attitude as me...we just don't click.
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLori
We got a kitten a year ago who decided that our daughter (6.5 at the time) was his person. She can carry him in pretty much any position, pet him any which-a-way and generally treat him like a dog and he loves it. He plays with her (and her friends! under the swings!), hangs out with her while she watches movies and sleeps with her. He also mopes when she's not home!
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwndl
My cat also likes my 6 year old kid better than he likes me. Furry little traitor.
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen in CT
Our sixteen-year-old cat is mostly deaf and completely blind, which, believe it or not, has really improved her quality of life living with a toddler prone to sudden erratic movements and weird loud noises. Her feline twitchiness has greatly subsided, and now she loveloveLOVES the toddler, so much so that she will somehow manage to locate him, as he lies on the floor playing with Legos or trains or whatever, and aggressively insert herself between him and the toys, purring and rubbing against his face. The toddler is occasionally amused by this, but it usually makes him cranky and prone to say, "Do I don't WANT Lulu to play with toys with me!"

I'll make a pretense of removing Lu from the area, but inwardly I'm snickering and applauding her clever revenge against two years of toddler pestering.

Kids + pets = better than TV
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTammy
Henry is so cute! And I think he's pretty insightful. I agree with others that the cat probably does respect him.

We were so worried about how the cat would react to the baby, and we've simply been amazed by his patience and his recent interest. And even though we are trying to teach the baby to be gentle, the cat who is usually very fiesty puts up with so much from the baby that he wouldn't tolerate from us adults. They can really surprise you.
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercaramama
HRH refers to our Bink as 'my buddy.' It's pricelesss. The cat refers to the entire family as his cross to bear.

Izzy's a keeper. So's Henry.
December 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterManic Mommy
Our old tabby used to be the kind of cat that sort of thought he was a dog. In other words, pretty damn cool and laid back for a feline. But now that's he's old and cranky, he has no problem ripping in to a six year old. Anyone want a cat? Because he clearly doens't want us anymore.
December 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercce
sounds like you have two sweeties.
December 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterapronstrings
We've got a small dog (Beans) and a medium sized dog terrorizer (also considered a stinker/cutie pie/Crap!Whatareyoudoing?!).

Sadly, Beans does not crave the affection of the terrorizer.

Mostly, he just runs. Away. Fast.

We're working on it. Progress is slow.

December 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbethany
Found your site from MightyGirl's - just stopped by to say hi!
December 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterALF
Cats are smart. Izzy is clearly in tune with the pecking order at your house, and knows that Henry is in charge. So he's the one whose favor she needs to curry, not your's or the other peons'.
December 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermandy

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