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COOPER'S TOWN

"Everything I learned about life I learned from my parents. But oddly my two cats reiterate these lessons almost daily. Reeses and Indiana obviously aren't aware they are doing anything useful for me nor do they care, but they are. I know, I know it sounds like bologna, some kind of spinster handbook with a cringe-inspiring title Meow My Cats and I. But in between the moments of frustration with them, I have learned quite a bit. If you absolutely hate cats, just replace the feline references with guinea pig. Here are the highlights. Tolerance. Reeses was an only kitty for more than a year before I brought a new baby home. Indiana could fit in the palm of my hand and exuded a cuteness that only a two-month old kitten can. I figured since she was a defenseless fur ball, Reeses' mothering instincts would override her disdain for the new addition. I figured wrong. For months Reeses hissed at the mere scent of Indiana and treated me with hostility. But over time, she accepted the new cat. Now they play together and oftentimes nap on the same piece of furniture. So when life throws you fur balls, hissing and hiding under bed won't help. Embrace life's challenges and changes. Determination. Driving from Dallas to Poulsbo is hard enough, but add two freaked out cats and the trip can be unbearable. For 8-10 hours a day Reeses would yowl. When the car stopped moving that's when the other one would chime in. They were determined to let me know what a horrible time they were having and I was determined not to let my urge to dump them at the side of the road overtake me. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and wiser. Patience. Next time I will FedEx the cats to their new home. The toughest lesson yet. I am not one to sit around and wait, but Indiana taught me that waiting, rather than springing into action, can produce results just as well. When I first moved here, my apartment was surrounded by the tallest trees I had ever seen in a complex. I had gotten in the habit of letting the cats outside to romp. One night Reeses came in, but Indiana disappeared. I went outside and called for her and she answered from the roof of the two-story building. For hours I debated whether to call the fire department. The helpless cat howled at me to take action. I had visions of firefighters laughing at me and my landlord kicking me out. Rather than face certain humiliation, I waited... and waited... and waited. Eventually the cat jumped down, no harm done. Waiting for a solution to appear is more effective than actions that create more problems. And finally, the most important lesson of all is the simplest. Love. The cats don't care if I don't have money to buy them fancy toys, a ball of paper is just fine. They don't mind when I am in a bad mood or wear sweats all day. And they'll never remind me that I gained a few pounds over the holidays. When I am upset they comfort me with purrs and cuddles. Need I say more? And when the cats are running around in the middle of the night, mistake the new bath mat for a litter box, scratch up my furniture, rub hair all over my black pants just before I walk out the door, climb all over me at 7 a.m. Saturday morning or find a new way to annoy me I will remember these lessons. Tolerance. Determination. Patience. Love. "

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