At that time we had a huge orange tomcat named Kitty. David and Kitty were great pals, often exploring together, and when David took a nap on the long white sofa, Kitty would find him and wash David’s straw-colored hair. One afternoon, as I walked through the living room, I found the two of them fast asleep on the sofa. David had his arm over Kitty, and Kitty had his arm over David.
But Kitty had an annoying habit.
Kitty had no regular mealtimes. Kitty ate when Kitty got hungry. No matter what my mother was doing, Kitty would begin rubbing against her ankles, yowling loudly. No matter that my mother said “Shoo!” No matter that my mother pushed Kitty away. Rubbing and yowling continued steadily until my mother gave in and went to feed Kitty.
But what if my mother wasn’t available. David, Kitty’s great pal, would become the target. Kitty yowled and rubbed David’s ankles until David would go and feed Kitty.
Kitty did not try this strategy on me or Paul, because it didn’t work. Paul and I would not react to these guerilla tactics, and so Kitty concentrated on our mother and David.
Mama complained. David complained. But grumbling and complaining, they’d open a can and feed Kitty. I told them that they were just training Kitty to expect a reward from that behavior. Mama frowned.
“But he just makes so much noise!” she said.
Paul tried to explain it to David, but David just said that Kitty was hungry. So I suppose it unsurprising that one day Paul appeared with a serious expression on his face.
“I’m worried,” he said. I looked up.
“About what?” I said.
“I’ve just realized,” he said, “that Kitty has more will-power than Mama and David.”