by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
May 8, 2002
A LETTER FROM HUCK
SEATTLE, Wash. -- Hi. My name is Huck. For now, that is -- it's what the Browns called me when I agreed to humor them by eating the swill that they seem to think cats enjoy. When I move on I'll no doubt be called Puss, or Tom, or with luck, Burt.
Whatever, but enjoy is not the word. You take what there is. Survival is the word. Once, to please them, I ate a Krispy Kreme thing and threw up on their sofa. Slow learners they may be, but nice slow learners.
My last owners (and you realize I suppose that "owners" is their language, not ours), had me altered in two horrible ways: the claws of my forepaws were extracted, and you don't want to know what else was snipped off. Suffice it to say that my dream of having a family went south.
After which they moved away. They were nice about it, in a way. They did not close me up in the empty house waiting for the real estate people to show it (and me).
Don't laugh. This happens. A nephew of mine was actually a skeleton by the time the house was shown, and the realtor, very quick on his toes, explained that the former owners had been zoologists or taxidermists or something.
No, they turned me loose, and the missus even put out a bowl of water. Bless her. Not all humans are hopelessly evil. Some are simply evil. Anyhow, now I'm with these people, who are new in the area and have been kind, so far. They've had me sewn up at the vet's a few times and never asked me to pay for it.
But they've had cats before, so they are not absolute beginners. I have to listen to some of the stories of their former cats, all of whom are ... wait for it ... dead.
Years ago they had a cat, kitten actually, whose name was Plume, and this Plume endeared herself to the Browns by ... you're not going to believe this ... going to the toilet on their toilet! See? I told you. They swear that this feline child would straddle the toilet and do her business into the water.
"Would she then flush?" I asked, trying to pretend that I believed this nonsense.
For this innocent question I was simply glared at. You can't win. Lately the old guy, the regular writer of this column, has been trying to lecture me about being a "real" cat. It drives him nuts that I won't chase the squirrels off the bird feeders. I said I'd sooner chase the damn birds, but I did not feel like chasing anything trying to survive on sunflower seeds.
But the latest thing is rats. He is sure that he has rats in his greenhouse. They are after the bird seed, he says. Why do I not behave like a real cat and catch these rats?
Real cats catch rats! This is a kind of mantra with him. And there is no reasoning with such a person.
I asked him, "CB, be honest. Have you ever tried a live rat as a snack? No? Well, then." He comes back at me: "No, Have you? And who's the cat here, you or me?"
But I have to be careful. You don't want to shame the people who give you what little food you get. There is not much more of my person that they could have cut off, though I have heard of the unspeakable operation known as tail-bobbing.
Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.