by Tina Blue
December 2, 2001
In "'Toopid Cat Don' Move!" I describe how very determined my cat Luke was to assert his territorial prerogatives in and around my home.
And as far as Luke was concerned, I was included as part of his territory.
Whenever I lay down to relax, read, or sleep, Luke would stake out a position between my calves. If my legs were too close together for him to fit comfortably, he would march back and forth (heavily!) on my legs until I moved enough for him to tuck himself between them.
If any of my other cats dared to occupy Luke's place when he was inside, he would come over and berate the offending cat until he or she moved. If the other cat was too slow about getting out of his way, Luke would sometimes deliver a resounding smack on the head, just to remind the recalcitrant kitty that he had first dibbies on that spot.
One evening after a long, exhausting day, I was lying on my back on the couch. My six-year-old daughter Becky wanted to cuddle, but I was too tired to sit up, so she came over and stretched out on top of me.
That really set Luke off. He'd been ignoring me up to that point, but as soon as he saw another creature cluttering up his spot, he had to take action.
At first he simply expressed his annoyance. He came over and stood by the couch, directly below Becky's face, and told her exactly how he felt about her presumption.
Giggling, Becky said, "Mommy, I think Lukey wants me to move!"
But of course she didn't.
So Luke hopped up on the arm of the couch, and from there to the back of the couch, where he began to parade back and forth, complaining loudly the whole while.
Becky's little giggles were getting bigger and louder by the minute. (Okay--I admit it. I was laughing out loud, too.)
Luke was a very dignified cat. He took his honor seriously. It was bad enough that this little upstart--who didn't even have the right number of
legs, for Pete's sake!--had usurped his place. Now she was openly laughing at him!
With a pronounced squawk he jumped down to the couch, wedged himself in behind us, and began to nudge Becky with his forehead. She shrieked with delight, "Mommy, he's trying to push me off!"
He was, too. His nudging became more forceful, and then even more forceful. He'd push her shoulder, then move down a ways and shove her side, then back to her shoulder. Sometimes he'd stop briefly to "meow" indignantly, and then he'd start shoving again.
Of course, there's no way he could have dislodged Becky--except that she was laughing so hard that her hold on me was weakened. Finally, she gave in and rolled off of me and onto the floor, still whooping with delight.
Once he'd rolled his rival onto the floor, Luke planted himself between my calves, quite obviously pleased with his victory. Just as he got settled, Becky sat up on the floor, so that her face was level with his.
Clearly, the "MEOW!" that he let out at that moment was both a warning and an insult.
I couldn't tell, though, whether it translated as "Yo' Mama!" or "My Mama!"