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Almost a cat-lover

No offense to cat-lovers, but I am not a cat-lover. Cats are needy, moody, selfish and ambivalent towards humans. They are too much like people.

But, we have cats at our house. With five children, odds were good that at least one of them would be a cat-lover, and the two youngest girls both fit that category.

So last year we got a cat — not a kitten. It was standoffish. It rarely wanted to be petted or held. It spent most of its days hiding from the dog. We saw it at feeding time and that was about it. It caught lizards and mice and frogs and pretty much anything that crawled or slithered. It was the perfect cat.

It’s one flaw was that it liked to sleep in our boat. When the German shepherd discovered this, she would jump onto the ski platform and crawl under the boat cover in search of the cat. The dog then discovered that the nice, white boat seats made a pretty good bed and soon those boat seats were no longer nice and white.

The cat’s fondness for the boat eventually led to its disappearance. When the boat left with a new owner a few months ago, the cat went with it. No one realized he had slipped under a seat. When the boat got to its new home two hours away, there was no kitty to be found.

So we found ourselves cat-less, and the 4-year-old started asking for a kitten. So being good parents, we eventually caved to the constant nagging and whining. At least we were rewarding persistence.

When a co-worker announced she had kittens, we took two. I’m not sure why we took two, but we figured with five kids we needed more cats to go around.

Kittens and cats are quite different, we have discovered. Cats will go to the bathroom in the bushes, discreetly. Kittens will poop anywhere and everywhere. Cats like to be held. Kittens demand to be held.

Cats will not drown in their water bowl. Kittens just might.

On Day 4 of our kitten adventure, we found them both soaking wet and one appeared to be lifeless. We carried him (or her, we are not sure) inside, dried him off and forced milk down his throat with a medicine dropper. It swallowed, gasped and appeared to be dead again. No moving. No breathing that we could see. We shoved more milk down its throat. It swallowed again, gasped and appeared dead again. We repeated this for a while and eventually the runt stood up and started walking. It appears that it will live.

His near-death experience has warmed my wife’s heart to cats. Like me, she previously was rather uninterested in kitties. She now holds the tiny babies when they cry. I almost want to believe she enjoys it. The same goes for the other non-cat-loving children. They love these kittens like they were puppies, which is saying a lot. We are dog people, after all.

It’s too early to tell if these kittens will turn into what we previously thought was the perfect cat — distant, ambivalent toward us, always hiding. As much as I hate to admit it, I hope not. Once you’ve nursed a kitten back to life, it’s hard not to like the thing.

I’m still no cat-lover, but I’m definitely closer to being a cat-liker these days.

Email Publisher Luke Horton at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.