The Furry Fire Alarm Who Is Out Of Snacks

By Bill Hall

I thought at first the house was on fire because the cats were suddenly scratching at the bedroom door and calling out to us.

Or maybe there was a burglar in the house.

But something was going on because the cats don't normally scratch at the bedroom door and call out that early in the morning. There is a reason for that:

They have learned, if they scratch at the bedroom door and call out early in the morning, that a large, nearly naked, disgustingly underfurred animal the most horrible kind will open that door and throw a pillow at them. So they don't normally do that.

But this morning they were doing that. My first thought was food. Theirs, not mine. Sometimes, they will risk a pillow if the fools who own them let the cat dish go empty too late in the morning. These are cats whose whole life revolves around food. They don't work. They don't have any hobbies. Like the residents of a poorly run nursing home, the only excitement in their lives is meals. The only break with boredom is the sound of hard little nuggets of scientifically crafted cat concrete falling into their dish.

I have never sampled that food but it's good for them so you know what that means. It means it isn't a taste treat. But that is just. If God and science are punishing all the humans in this society with a weekly flood of evidence that tasteless food is good for you, then why should our pets have any pleasure in life either?

If we must exist on this new diet of glorified nuts and berries, where once we lived on pork chops and gravy, then who are the damned cats to still be scarfing down canned meat and other food with flavor?

But that's not my decision. It is the decision of middle-aged veterinarians who have prescribed the same dull diet they have been forced to eat just to get even with cats for being young.

But dull or not, the cats still dote on their food. Personally, if I had to eat what we make them eat, I would go throw myself in front of a dog. But they are more hungry than picky.

So they eat. Every chance they get. The big Siamese has learned to drag a 20-pound sack of food around the yard with him just so he can have a couple of snacks while he's outside.

So an empty food dish or an empty sack was the first thing I thought of when the cats began making a commotion at the bedroom door. And you can't throw a pillow at a cat if it's your fault, if you didn't fill the dish or if you forgot to give him his daily 20-pound sack of snacks.

I got up and checked.

The cat dish was full. So was the water dish.

I glared at them and went back to bed.

Soon the commotion started again. That's when I remembered Lassie. I regret to say that Lassie is so long gone from movies and television that younger readers will not remember her. But suffice it to say, Lassie was a collie with the I.Q. of a smart congressman. Lassie never created a commotion unless there was danger to someone in the human family. If Timmy got his foot stuck in the railroad track with the 5:10 from Omaha only a few miles away, Lassie would race home and use the sticks from Timmy's toy drum set to tap out in Morse code: "That stupid kid is in another jam and if you don't hurry he's going to be a lot flatter than you remember."

I also recalled all of those stories I have read over the years of a dog or a cat making a lot of noise when the house catches fire, thereby saving the family kind of a hairy smoke alarm.

I had visions of our cats, in the tradition of Lassie, dragging us unconscious from the bed and carrying us down a tiny ladder which they had put up to the window. But that would be ridiculous. We sleep on the ground floor.

I got out of bed again and checked the entire house, sniffing for smoke as I went. Nothing. Everything was in order. And the cats didn't actually seem too excited about anything. They kept rubbing up against me and purring. I guess they were just lonely. But I couldn't get back to sleep. I kept wondering why Timmy hadn't come home yet.


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