Back in 1980s, my now long-deceased Siamese, Isis, compiled a list of her “Rules”
When I recently wrote in my June 26 column in the Times that our Abyssinian cat Tut is getting old, it drew an immediate response from Kathie Dreher in cyberspace. She reminded me of another very special feline, Isis, who directed my life back in the 1980s and early 1990s before she finally died of old age.
During her reign, Isis compiled a list of “Basic Rules for Cats Who Have a House to Run.” These provocative guidelines were amazingly well-received. Feral cats from as far away as Tasmania faxed in requests for copies, and some jerk in Canada even posted a copy of Isis’ rules on his personal Web site with a note thanking me for my permission to use it, which he didn’t have.
To date, humans and pets from around the world have asked for thousands of copies of these rules. (Isis must be lying on a cloud somewhere, purring.)
I think it’s time to share Isis’ rules with the world once again. I’m not sure the world is ready for them, but what the heck:
BASIC RULES FOR CATS WHO HAVE A HOUSE TO RUN
CHAIRS & RUGS. If you have to throw up, get into a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get onto an Oriental rug. If there’s no Oriental rug, shag is good.
DOORS. Absolutely do NOT allow closed doors in any room. To get a door opened, stand on your hind legs and hammer with your forepaws. Once a door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an outside door opened, stand halfway in and halfway out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow and mosquito season.
GUESTS. Quickly decide which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that human’s lap. If you can arrange to have Friskies Fish ‘N Glop on your breath, so much the better.
For sitting on laps or rubbing against trousers, select fabric color which contrasts well with fur. For example: White-furred cats go to black wool clothing.
For the guest who claims “I love kitties,” be ready with aloof disdain; apply claws to stockings or use a quick nip on the ankle. Be sure and hiss loudly if someone tries to pet you.
When walking among dishes on the dinner table, be prepared to look surprised and hurt when scolded. The idea is to convey, “But you allow me on the table when company isn’t here.”
Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything. Just sit and stare.
WORK. If one of your humans is sewing or writing and another is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called helping, otherwise known as hampering. Following are the rules for hampering:
1. When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on, then picked up and consoled when you scream in pain.
2. For book readers, get in close under the chin, between the human’s eyes and the book, unless you can lie across the book itself.
3. For knitting projects, curl up quietly onto the lap of the knitter and pretend to doze. Occasionally reach out and slap the knitting needles sharply. This can cause dropped stitches or split yarn. The knitter may try to distract you with a scrap ball of yarn. Ignore it. Remember, the aim is to hamper work.
PLAY. It is very important. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for playing catch the mouse or king-o-the-hill on top of their bed between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
TRAINING. Begin people-training early. You will then have a smooth-running household.
Humans can be taught if you start early and are consistent.
There you go. I hope you enjoy these rules. For your future edification and enjoyment, I also have a set of our Lady Dog’s “Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect,” and for those people who think rules are for the birds, a set of my old cockatoo Lottie’s “Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain.”
Watch for them.