Bucks County Herald

Kathryn Finegan Clark: By the Way

Delilah rules the house

Delilah, content to be creature-in-charge.

Once, in the days before Delilah, I was the lady of the house. Sadly, no more. Our female feline is Queen and I am, on better days, reduced to lady-in-waiting.

What’s worse, she has stolen my husband’s heart. He sneaks her treats -- too many, I think, especially when I’m not looking, which probably accounts for her obsession with him.

She is Delilah, but I think we should have called her Diana, in honor of the mythical huntress. She came to us about six years ago from our veterinarian. We had lost our last cat and were desperately in need of a good mouser. The vet, who occasionally houses potential adoptees in her office, said, “You can have two, but not one. I won’t separate them because they’re so cute together.”

I named them Samson and Delilah, for some unfathomable reason. They were not brother and sister, just a pair of lost kitten playmates.

Samson was a truly handsome creature, jet black, a sleek, miniature panther. Somewhat of a playboy, he was not interested in dirtying his paws. He let Delilah do the dirty work and as soon as the mice population diminished she turned her hunting prowess to the outdoors. At times our doorstop resembles a mini-morgue.

Samson was with us for about a year and then just disappeared one day. His absence seemed to have no effect on Delilah. It surely bothered us, though, and we did all the requisite things, posting pictures on trees and checking with neighbors. Alas, our efforts were fruitless. Samson was history.

Delilah, though, comes when she’s called — very unusual for a cat, according to our vet.

So, what we have now is a 6-yearold dictator, classified as a tortoiseshell domestic short-haired cat.

Although she at first appears to be coal black, she is only about 97 percent black with a white necklace, blazes of gold on her shoulder and two partially white paws. At this time of year she spends most of her day napping on a pile of pillows and the rest ordering us around.

She is chubby in the winter, sleeker in the summer when she has the run of our property. She also generally surveys her grassy realm from our neighbor’s driveway, uphill and across the road, where she frequently harassed his last dog. They now have a new puppy but the two have not met. I can’t wait for that.

We have had some interesting cats in the past 40 or so years. So many that one Christmas when our children and grandchildren were here, our son drew up The Great Cat Reckoning, producing a long list of cats and kittens who arrived in various ways and left in others.

Some went to our daughter’s friends, with a couple winding up in Arizona, where they apparently learned to swim in the family’s pool. Another kitten would drink only from the bathtub faucet which had a sneaky little leak. We gave that one to a sports reporter who later said she continued that habit. Another jumped up on the kitchen counter whenever I peeled a cucumber. He sat there and consumed the peel.

We had one cat that could smell shrimp from any place in the house, another that magically appeared when he heard the electric can opener. This feline merely paws the stray piece of chicken or shrimp that lands on the counter and she treats fish with a dismissive sniff.

We have loved them all, cared for them and mourned their loss even after racking up a slew of vet’s bills. Our present little tyrant holds the Most Demanding title. She is very vocal, which is a nice way of saying she emits a fierce, not-quite meow when she wants to go out. When she’s out and I’m at my desk, she jumps on the window sill and trash-talks in cat language until I let her in and my sanity is restored.

When the weather is frigid and she cries to go out, she’ll do a quick about-face, and five minutes later repeat the process -- again and again -- which makes me believe cats have very short memories.

She insists on going out before dusk — to hunt, I assume. She is doing her job, but I wish she would confine it to the house instead of trying to clear out the woods.

On evenings when my husband and I are watching television, it is his lap she chooses, not mine, and she actually watches the screen.

But then we are grateful for her. Doctors say pets help to extend their owners’ lives. At any rate, she’s helping with ours while working on her own nine.




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