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Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at

I must admit, I’m not a big cat lover, although I begrudgingly admit that cats have a few advantages over dogs. They clean up after themselves, and they mind their own business, and in that respect, they are better than husbands. They are also smarter than dogs; after all, you aren’t going to see eight cats pull a sled and musher in an Iditarod blizzard or try to sniff out bombs that could blow at any minute. But cats don’t have a sense of humor like dogs do, and cats don’t take orders well. In fact, they give them. They don’t have “owners”; they have employees.

Cats are sneaky too. One of the earliest photos I have of myself is of me on my grandma’s porch petting one of her dearly beloved cats. But when the photographer was done snapping the photo, that miserable cat scratched and punctured my arms to the point where I looked like a five-year-old heroin junkie. When I blamed the cat for my wounds, the cat got that familiar “holier than thou” look on its face that said, “Who, me?”

That same cat also had the unnerving habit of sitting and watching you while you sat on the toilet.

Although I didn’t have any relationship whatsoever with my sister’s cat Tiger, I admit that it did have one good trait: it was a good “mouser.” Almost every day, it would place an offering of a dead mouse on the mat that welcomed folks at our front door. This presented a problem because you never knew when Tiger would offer up her “gift,” and my mother was a seamstress who sewed for rich ladies and their debutante daughters who often came for fittings. Personally, I found it very entertaining to watch prom queens and debutantes as they left our house throw their new gowns up in the air as they screamed, “RAT!” Then they ran to their Cadillacs to cower in fear. And while cats may not be capable of smiling, Tiger was always in the general vicinity with a familiar smirk on her face.


Another cat I came to know quite well lived on the ranch we leased and belonged to my wife’s cousin. One day she came crying to me with her cat named China, who looked like she’d been run over by a herd of cows. She’d already taken China to the vet, who took one look at the cat’s squashed rear end and told my wife’s cousin that her cat “needed to be put down.”

“Oh no,” she cried, “Lee can fix her. I’ve seen him perform miracles with lambs and calves, and I know he can save my cat.”

It was obvious that China was severely dehydrated, so I wrapped China up tight in a blanket so she couldn’t claw me to death and administered IVs of ringers of lactate. I did this for a week, religiously applied a salve to her deep abrasions, and attempted to straighten out her plumbing in her nether regions. You know that old saying, “This is gonna hurt me a lot more than it is you?” Well, it was darn sure true in this case. Each time I treated China, she’d make more progress in escaping from the blanket, and eventually, I had scratch marks from head to toe.

Son of a gun if China didn’t survive, but she almost murdered me in the process. Henceforth, whenever no one was looking, China tried to scratch my eyes out, and if anyone dared cast an accusatory glance China’s way, she’d get that now familiar, “Who, me?” look on her face.

My wife’s cousin was so happy she had a cap made for me that said, “I saved China.” This was fitting because I believe cats are card-carrying communists. Did you know that the average cat spends 70 percent of its time sleeping and the other 30 percent planning to take over the world?

In short, here’s the difference between cats and dogs. At a busy intersection, a “seeing eye cat” would look both ways to make sure no one was watching, and then she’d lead the poor blind person right into the path of an oncoming cement mixer. And as the blind person’s carcass was being loaded into the meat wagon, the cat would look at the investigating cop as if to say, “Who, me?”