Not me, mind you. The Favorite Husband. AKA Mister "I Don't Really LIKE Cats".
Of course, when the Favorite Husband "doesn't really like" an animal, it doesn't mean he doesn't like them. Trust me, he likes just about EVERY ANIMAL THERE IS. All it means is, if he had a choice between having THAT animal as a pet versus, say, a puppy, he would choose the puppy. He's just not an Incredible Cat Person. Neither am I, to be honest--although his parents thought differently so one year at Christmas all of my presents were kitschy kute kitten krap: posters and calendars and t-shirts depicting kittens playing with balls of yarn. I've always liked cats and I've pretty much always had them for pets, but I am not Crazy Cat Person. I like them a tad better than the Favorite Husband does, but, like him, I tend to like anything that does not actively try to draw blood from me, and that tendency sometimes gets confused with the whole "Cats are the most AWESOME ANIMALS ON THE PLANET" crowd.
We were both somewhat disappointed when, after a promising start, our little rescue kitten Sadie proved to be less than friendly. Don't get me wrong; she's here for life. It's just that her life is not the utopian purrfest you imagine it's going to be for adorable wee kitling crouched on your lap. Sadie grew up to be rather skittish and shy and distant, and it's more like living with a wild animal than a pet. Oh, well.
Enter Fred, the Maine Coon. Everything you've heard about Maine Coons, it turns out, is true. All the good stuff, anyway. He's not really a lap cat, but he enjoys hanging out in the same room with you, in a way that seems nonchalant but is pretty deliberate. If I am, say, doing laundry and running clothes from the bedroom to the washer, Fred follows along. If I go downstairs to clean the catbox there's Fred overseeing the job. And lately, if I make myself a sandwich on the kitchen table, there's Fred sitting in a nearby chair, watching the ENTIRE PROCESS from maybe six inches away.
At first this was not really appreciated, for I do not trust cats (nor dogs, for that matter) when food is involved. Fred's seat on the chair brings him at perfect nose-level with the surface of the table. He knows he is not supposed to get up on the table (though he does when we are not there!) but early on when this food inspection ritual began the sight and smell was too much and he'd start climbing ever so slowly over to the food and I would have to tell him "NO!" in my best authoritative bark. Fred knows what "No" means, though it's a tossup whether or not he actually agrees with it. But my dilligence and patient training has been eventually rewarded. I would say probably ninety percent of the time now, Fred will sit there and stare unblinkingly at the food like a proper little gentleman, even though cheese or chicken is but INCHES from his face, and so long as he behaves at the end, right before I am to take my food to the living room to eat it, I put a little crumb of cheese or chicken or whatever on the chair for him to eat. So now it's what he does.
All of a sudden this weekend the Favorite Husband witnessed this, and he was Not Pleased. "You're teaching him to steal food," he complained. "I don't like him begging. He's going to take your food the instant your back is turned." In vain I repeated The Rules: so long as he doesn't get up on the table or touch anything, he gets a treat at the end. So now Fred sits there like a friggin' little angel, waiting for his portion of whatever is being made. The Favorite Husband did not believe me, but sighed his frustration and dropped it.
The funny thing was, this past whole entire weekend, the Favorite Husband had, on several occasions, waxed affectionate toward us acquiring Fred, and how much he enjoyed having him as a pet. "He's so great!" he gushed. "He has SO much personality! I can play with him rough, like a dog! Every time he sees me he flops on his back and tries to get me to attack his stomach!" Sadie never really charmed him, being all skittish and flighty, but he has fallen madly in love with Fred. Hence, I suppose, his irritation with Fred's and my little bit of food detente is touched by his suspicion that I am now RUINING FRED and causing him to MISBEHAVE.
Until last night. He came home late from work, and went straight to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich. And Fred, now well versed in such matters, sat on his chair and watched EVERYTHING. In the past, he too has caught Fred bringing a paw up to touch his food and has had to yell at him, but last night was magical. Fred just sat there, unblinking, as he prepared his food. The Favorite Husband then came into the living room bearing his plate.
"You know, I was really opposed to you teaching Fred to beg," he said, "but as I was preparing my food he didn't move. He just sat there and stared at me the whole time. And he was so damned cute, at the end I had to give him a bit, just to reward him for behaving so well."
Hah. Mojo's evil plan to convert her Favorite Husband into Crazy Cat Lady is almost complete....