|Gaston and LeFou curled up on our couch.|
Weeks later, I discovered I would.
But it’s not what you think.
In July, our middle daughter Kelly flew back to the nest after being on her own for 18 months. It was nice to welcome her back home, but there was one thing – well, actually 2 things -- that I would have to deal with upon her return: her cats, Gaston and Lefou. Being the wonderful humanitarian that I am, I wasn’t going to make Kelly give them up.
I have never been fond of cats. Oh sure, they are cute, but whenever I was around them, they were just too annoying for my tastes. Way too annoying. Give me a dog any day.
So on those rare occasions when the prospect of adding cats to the household was mentioned, my response was always the same. “I’ll NEVER have cats in my house.”
Well, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
So on July 1, I started a life with cats in it.
It was an interesting start for the cats on their ride from Kelly’s apartment near Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The pet carriers she purchased were too small for them, so they made the ride back to Pennsylvania in alcohol boxes on the back seat of my car.
To ease the transition to their new home, Gaston and Lefou – and yes, they are named after characters from Kelly’s favorite movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” – were given free reign in a room in our basement, complete with Kelly’s wraparound couch, their food and water dishes, scratching post and the litter box. They also had access to a bar, but I don’t think they used it.
We rigged a hotel-room style lock on our basement door which left just enough room for the cats to come upstairs when they so desired. It also kept our yellow Labrador from racing to the basement and eating the cats’ food.
After about a month or so, the 2-year-old cats got comfortable in their new surroundings and began exploring the rest of the house, with Gaston being the more adventurous one. That’s when I discovered that he apparently likes me.
One late summer evening while watching TV, Gaston hopped in my lap and made himself comfortable. It was awkward for me. My wife, of course, thought it was cute.
Since then, we’ve bonded. Gaston enjoys inspecting my closet – my wife says it’s his man cave. When he hears the door open, he rushes into the bedroom to see what he can get his paws and mouth on or rub up against. He especially admires a belt that hangs from a hangar – and I have the teeth marks on the belt to prove it.
He also has gotten into the habit of hopping on the bed early in the morning and curling up on top of my wife or I. You can tell his comfort level by the amount and loudness of his purring.
Anything new that comes into his field of vision, Gaston needs to inspect it – sometimes with a dose of hilarity. My wife adorned a sliding glass door with some holiday cling-ons more than five-feet high on the glass. Well, it’s been Gaston’s daily mission to try and knock the decorations off the glass. He’ll just stare at them for awhile, then jump more than 5 feet in an attempt to grab one. He usually succeeds.
And since the weather has turned a bit chillier, Gaston has found a new place to stay warm: by sleeping on the cable box!
What about Lefou, you ask? He’s the opposite of Gaston: an introvert — or just very depressed. Lefou is still afraid of our dog, and heads into the basement when we have company. He pretty much keeps to himself — though we’ve discovered he likes sleeping on Kristen’s bed since she’s away at college — and is only seen or heard when he’s hungry.
While Gaston and I have bonded, he still does things that annoy me: hopping on tables and counters; scratching furniture; playing with connections to the TV; or attacking my shoelaces when I’m trying to put on a shoe.
For the past two weeks, the cats have been curious about the Christmas tree. They found the strings of lights fascinating as we were putting them on our Blue Spruce. The same fascination occurred when adding the ornaments.
Lefou has found a spot under the tree to take naps, and we’ve caught Gaston drinking water out of the tree stand.
I hope that’s where the fascination ends. I wouldn’t want them to end up like the feline in “Christmas Vacation.”
Mike Spohn is The Mercury’s Sunday editor. E-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Merc_Mike