A cat is not my favorite pet in the animal kingdom. A dog is smarter. You can train a dog. Not a cat. Dogs don’t have claws and fangs. Dogs do not generally attack without provocation. You can “communicate” with a dog. Not a cat.

My wife had cats growing up. However, she learned to hate cats at our Fresno home for the calling cards they left in her flowerbeds. She was quick to shoo away any cat that happened to invade her territory.

One day a young, adult yellow cat was sauntering across our backyard fence. It caught my wife’s attention and was sternly told to take a hike. The yellow cat did its best impression of Travis Bickle, the character Robert De Niro played in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver.

“You talkin’ to me?” was the look on the cat’s face as it continued to amble down the fence line ignoring my wife’s command to get lost. It jumped down into her flower bed, not the yard behind our home, and strolled away.

It hung around for a few days. It liked attention and got mine. I figure animals are just like most kids — hungry all the time. Despite the admonition of my wife, I fed the yellow cat. That was about two years ago. You know the rest of the story. He now has a name(s). My wife calls him Morris because he looks like the feline in the old cat food ads — Morris, the Cat. I call him “Killer” because, like all cats, he stalks.

We were growing attached to the cat we never wanted, when he came over the back fence one afternoon after losing a fight with a car. Judging by the grease on his face, he had tangled with the undercarriage of a moving car.

My wife wanted to take him to the vet right away. I said let’s wait. If he survived until morning, we would take him in. He was alive and somewhat recovered by daybreak.

It has been many years since I had taken an animal to the vet. Talk about human health care reform? I did not realize how lucrative the practice of veterinary medicine has become. We went shopping for vets after I almost had to go to the heart hospital over the first “estimated” cat repair bill.

“Killer” survived after considerable investment only to make other trips to the vet for other health issues of late. I told someone how much money I had spent on “Killer” and the response was “You know how many cats that much money will buy.” I am too embarrassed to reveal how much we have spent on “Killer.”

He is more like a dog than a cat. During the day he sleeps in a wooden file box where I once kept 8-by-11 printer paper. At more than 12 pounds, he is not a good fit. However, he seems happy scrunched in the box with some of him hanging over the edge. Killer can leap great distances from there or any other area in my home office and land in my lap or on the back of my chair/neck with claws drawn for secure contact. If the phone rings and he is getting attention in my lap, he will tolerate only a relatively short phone call. Otherwise he chomps down on my arm to let me know he is more important than any old phone call.

He loves to be cradled in my arms accompanied by constant petting. When he decides he has been sufficiently pampered, he gives thanks with a good bite and jumps down.

Never in my life had I planned to have a cat, much less one that commands so much attention and costs so much money. I reached the ultimate level of cat lover stupidity when I had to get an antibiotic prescription written by the vet filled at the local pharmacy. My wife took it in and learned that it was not uncommon for pet owners to bring in prescriptions. Guess who picked it up?

“You have a prescription for Morris Cline?” I quietly asked the clerk. He smiled because he was the one who had taken it. “You mean the one for the cat?” he shouted for the whole world to hear, letting everyone know there was an idiot standing before him dumb enough to spend money for a cat prescription.

It was for amoxicillin. Yep, the same stuff I gave our kids growing up. Then the clerk took great joy in telling me the pharmacist would “consult” with me on how to administer the antibiotic. For a cat?

Not once do I recall the need for a pharmacist’s consultation to give amoxicillin to my children. So there I stood with a pharmacist telling me how to give medicine to Morris Cline, the cat, while at least 200 people watched.

Still don’t like cats. Will never have another one. However, Killer has a home forever. He is a good stress reliever. He does not ask for money, although he has cost plenty. All he demands is when he parks at my feet, looking up with only one obvious request in his eyes, “Pick me up and scratch my neck.” No one else asks for so little. Like I never wanted a cat, I never envisioned writing a commentary about the same. Hey, it’s the holiday season. Time to keep it light. Besides, I am looking for “Killer” Christmas present suggestions. Money is obviously no object.

And Merry Christmas.

email: hcline@farmpress.com