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Day 16: Sure, I’m a Flunky for Felines

Last night’s scribble triggered the biggest response yet. Women were appalled at the thought that—all birds and virions aside—Fluffy could turn embryos into trailer trash.

The solution was to shoot the messenger: me. My assertion that someone’s furry bedmate could set her fetus on the path to psychological and economic ruin was too much for an astounding 11 readers. Hit those links, folks. I make sure to post them when I expect people to think I’m crazy, which proves that I’m not, doesn’t it? Hehe....

LIKE IT NOT NOT, I WAS CHOSENI am extremely fond of cats. Yet I’m no sycophant. I know kitties for what they are—our narcissistic masters. It’s become clear in recent years that cats teamed up with us 10,000 years ago—they volunteered to keep our granaries and towns free of rodents and we respected and fed them. No other mammal initiated its domestic relationship with mankind. (Some say dogs came in from the cold, too, but others contend that canines were captured and bred selectively to perform tasks; bone traces found in human dung show that pre-Texans probably bred dogs to eat 9,400 years ago.)

My resident feline is gray with black stripes and a broad white chin. For all his splendor, he’s a mutt I recovered from a Brooklyn junkyard. He’d never tolerate the words rescue or save; the greater pleasure was mine. For all I know, he thinks he was catnapped.

He sports a big nose and a calm, frank gaze that belies an aptitude for scheming. It wasn’t without provocation that I named him. I’ll blow a smidgeon of my cover by telling you: Sneeky Pete.

When you bring a dog into your home, it wanders about, looking back to see if you approve. The tiniest kitten will explore a new domain with eyes only for entertainment and food. It looks back to see which of these you intend to provide first.

Sneeky disdains my advanced degree, the student loans I’m still paying, the efforts I make to keep house. He watches me sift his litter with fascination and disgust. I think he considers me a useful pervert.

Cat Lovers: The New Litterati

I owe it to my blue-eyed lord to keep him inside, distant from anything that might bring H5N1 into the bubble he kindly shares with us. (Some cats and dogs caught swine flu from their keepers.) While it gnaws at me that mice can catch H5N1, too, I count on Sneeky’s unnatural disinterest in rodents to keep us out of trouble. Our historic symbiosis means little to him.

Cats don’t shed H5N1 in enormous quantities. It might not take much if you sleep with one that hunts. You owe it to your pets (dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc.) to keep them safe until animal vaccines for H5N1 are developed and distributed. With seven billion humans praying for a people vaccine, that will take years.

Your pets never needed you more than they do now. Even if they’ll never admit it.

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