Sometimes Cats Are A Girl's Best Friend

By Bill Hall

My wife tells me that life is wonderful because diamonds are expensive and cats are free.

She has a point. Life isn't often like that, as anyone with champagne tastes and a beer budget will attest. So I understand what my wife is driving at, but I don't quite get the cat part of her example.

Oh, I get the point that diamonds, something most of us can live without, are one of the most expensive things on Earth. And that is a break -- that costly goods are unnecessary.

It's the cat part I don't grasp. As I understand the sentiment, we are talking about something unimportant that costs a bundle versus something sensational that is free. And the example of the sensational free thing is a cat.

In the first place, there is no such thing as a free cat. There is a cat you get for nothing but quickly spend a considerable amount on taking it out of the kitten-producing game. There is a cat that, immediately upon coming under your financial protection, enrolls in the Abscess of the Month Club.

And of course, there is a cat that lives with its face in food you pay for, a cat that wouldn't get a job even if it had some talent for anything more than lying around. If lazy were a profession, cats would be filthy rich instead of just filthy. If sloth were a job, cats could afford diamonds.

In defense of diamonds as they relate to cats, diamonds don't bring dead mice into the house and leave them by the bed where you step on them with your bare feet and get your heart started in the morning real fast.

Diamonds don't bring birds inside and chase them around the premises, leaving feathers all over the house.

Diamonds don't get in a screeching fight under the bedroom window, causing you to jump out of bed and step on the free mouse.

That's the catch: Free cats come with free mice, as well as free birds, not to mention free hair for the whole house while they are keeping comfortably in synch with the seasons and shedding their winter and summer coats.

Life is wonderful all right, but not because diamonds are pricey and cats are free. Life is wonderful because diamonds are pricey and chickens cost only a few bucks each. Life is wonderful because food costs a lot less than diamonds (except cat food which can cost a bundle).

The point of cats is not that they are free. The point is that they are sometimes almost worth what they cost. They are entertaining in their lighter moments -- natural clowns racing about the house, knocking over the lamp ($75), climbing the curtains, ($229), getting up on the table when we aren't looking and gnawing on the chicken ($4.29).

I will hand it to them that they can sometimes keep your feet warm while they lie next to you on the couch on those rare occasions when they condescend to join you.

But they are not free. They are like fishing and hunting. You occasionally encounter an angler or a hunter around here who mistakes you for someone gullible and tells you with a straight face that he goes fishing or hunting to save money on his groceries.

His wife doesn't even believe that yarn when he tries it on her right after he breaks the news that he bought the new boat or the new camper. Why does he expect me to believe it?

No, you justify your hobbies and passions in measurements of pleasure, not money. If diamonds are your best friend and you enjoy sitting around watching your knuckles sparkle, then I'm happy for you and it's none of my concern. What you do for pleasure in the privacy of your own home is your own business.

I have my own costly weaknesses. For instance, the tomatoes I grow aren't free. The water, fertilizer, soil amendments and tools it requires to grow tomatoes raise the price on them to about $15 a pound.

On the other hand, a thing like fishing and hunting and gardening and cat feeding can gentle you down. And that's cheaper than a psychiatrist.

Life is wonderful. Diamonds cost a fortune and cats, which also cost a fortune, are more entertaining than tomatoes. On their good days, cats are diamonds in the rough.


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