ERROL CASTENS: Latent cat-person tendencies may be genetic

My Granddaddy was a cat person, an aspect of him that I never understood as a youngster.

He died while I was very young, but several family photos have shown him with a cat in his arms. According to family lore, only once did he regret their affection for him, when one of his favorites followed him to the barn for chore rounds, and a sudden gust of wind hit the barn door behind them, turning the long-tailed cat into a bobcat.

Neither of my parents was a cat person. We had outside dogs whose role was more utilitarian than affectionate, though they would praise our border collie Bullet for killing cottonmouths and chasing bulls away from Mama while she picked blackberries in the pasture.

My brother and I were different. We cried buckets when one young pup ran in front of a truck and again when old and crippled Bullet disappeared into the countryside. I still tear up thinking of the final walk I took with Doofus, when Mr.

Remington and I ended his incurable lung disease.

The only cat I remember my parents having was a tailless Manx grudgingly accepted from a relative. Formerly a housecat, he learned to jump onto the window ledge by Daddy’s chair to have only a window screen separating him from humans, but when he climbed the screen and tore it, he was no longer welcome.

The woman who would become my wife had a formerly male Siamese cat named Twinkie when Sue and I started dating. He had a Hitler-like mustache, which matched his personality. He repeatedly marked my belongings when I visited, so after our wedding he became an outdoor cat and soon disappeared – a victim, I’m sure, of local dogs or wildlife.
I’ll spare you heartbreaking tales of our other feline failures, but a few weeks ago a friend of Sue’s begged us to take a kitten. Since it would not be another case of uprooting a grown cat, and since we’ve been plagued with mice from time to time, we agreed.

Punkin’s playfulness is cute, but it’s offset by the fact that he likes to play noisily with his toys and my shoes in the middle of the night, under our bed, and that he likes to climb legs without discriminating between denim and dermis.

But I think I’ve learned why Granddaddy so loved cats.

Sometimes, when the world gets on my last nerve and I get on its last nerve, Punkin’s purring on my lap or shoulder reassures me that there’s at least one creature on this earth pleased with me.

Contact Daily Journal reporter ERROL CASTENS at

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  • barney fife

    Housecats are great. Low maintenance, easy care. 2 are better than 1, more than 3 are to many.
    Dogs have masters, cats have staff.