Bad Boy Laz

by Tina Blue
October 27, 2002

          My daughter Becky is not a cat person, despite having grown up with a fair number of kitties, since I most definitely am a cat person.

          Becky is a dog person.  Okay--I am a dog person, too, but it's not so easy to indulge your dog person proclivities in an apartment, and since my divorce I have always lived in a fairly small apartment.  But I don't see any reason why a dog person can't be a cat person, too.  I am also a ferret person, a parrot person, a budgie person, a snake person, a lizard person, and all other sorts of persons.

          I like animals.

          Becky likes dogs.

          As far as I can tell, though, she has little interest in or patience for any other sort of animal.  (Honestly, though, we really are related by blood.)

          Last spring, she and a friend of hers decided to adopt a pair of littermates--a boy kitty and a girl kitty.  The boy would belong to Audrey, and Audrey named him Lazarus.  The girl would be Becky's, and Becky named her Persephone.  Of course these elegant names got shortened to Laz and Seph. 

          Oh, well.

          Over the summer the kittens lived with Audrey at her family's farm.  Starting at the end of August, when they returned to school, Becky was going to take care of both cats, since Becky was going to be living in an apartment and Audrey was going to be in a dorm.

          Well, Becky has discovered that she doesn't like having cats in her home.  In the first place, she works or is in class for about twelve hours a day, seven days a week, which means the cats, who are now about seven months old, are really hungry for attention when she gets home.  But when she gets home, she is exhausted, and she just doesn't feel like cuddling or playing with kittens.

          We who are cat people find our cats' aggressive demands for love and play to be charming, but to a non-cat person, such demands are just annoying.

          Although they are littermates, Laz and Seph are drastically different in size and personality.  Seph, who is almost solid black, is so tiny that everyone thinks she is far younger than she is.  Meanwhile, Laz, a blonde tabby with white socks and a white bib, is huge.  And that very large hunk of boy kitten is always looking for trouble.

          No, not really.  What he is looking for is attention, but just like a kid, if he can't get attention by being good, he'll be bad and get any kind of attention he can.

          When Becky tells me about his latest transgressions, I end up laughing out loud, not commiserating with her, which is what she would like me to do.

          Let me tell you what sorts of trouble Laz gets into.

          In the first place, he likes water.  Every day, he would deliberately tip over the water bowl, not only making a mess on the floor, but also leaving the bowl empty for the very long stretch of time that Becky was away from the apartment. 

          She tried to solve this problem by putting the water in a flat dish, a large plate, actually, but Laz then started standing in the dish and deliberately tipping it so the water would go out on the floor.

          I told her to get a heavy ceramic dish, and a good-sized one at that.  It would be too heavy to tip, but the water would be deep enough that Laz wouldn't want to stand in it.

          I was right.  He doesn't tip it, and he doesn't stand in it.  Instead, he sticks (as Becky put it) his hands in there and scoops the water out, throwing it all over the place the way a person would do with his hands (that is, if a person had a mind to scoop the water out of a cat dish and fling it all over the floor).

          Becky tried Audrey's method of disciplining her bad boy.  She tried swatting his rump or thumping him lightly but sharply on the top of his head.  For maybe two weeks that worked, for about a half hour at a time, until he decided he rather liked it.  Now he flings the water out of the water dish, and then he stands there and waits to get spanked or thumped, even calling her in case she has missed her cue.

          I told her, "Becky, he wants attention.  If that's the only attention he can get from you, he will do whatever he has to do to get that attention."

          He has another trick.  In "Other Kitty's Research Projects" I wrote about a cat I used to have who liked to drop things off the counter in my bathroom and then watch them bounce and roll.  He would do that to keep himself amused while I was in the bathtub, and I always got the biggest kick out of it.

          Well, about a week ago Laz figured out that it was fun to knock or drop things off of Becky's counter--her kitchen counter.  Of course, she doesn't want cats on her kitchen counter.  (Even I don't want cats on the kitchen counter.)  But he won't even stay off the counters when she is there, much less when she isn't around to make him get down.  And now the little booger has taught his sister Seph to play the game.  Both kitties are up on the counter all the time knocking and dropping things over the edge and watching them bounce and roll.

          I told her to get a squeeze bottle and squirt the cats every time they got on the counter or did something they were not supposed to do.

          But of course Laz likes water.  So Becky squirts him and he stands there enjoying it, as if it were his own private water park.

          In December Becky will be leaving Kirksville, Missouri, where she goes to school.  She has four more credits to earn, but she'll be getting those credits during a six-week primate ecology internship in Costa Rica.  Her work at Truman State University is done.  That means Laz and Seph will be moving out in just two months.  Audrey's sister has agreed to take them in, at least until Audrey is in a position to keep them with her, after she graduates in May. 

          Becky knows now that she is not the sort of person to keep cats, so she won't try that experiment again. 

          But I will miss hearing stories about Bad Boy Laz.  I've never met him, but darn it--I love that cat.

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