© 2020

My Pre-YouTube Cats

By Eric Anthony Kallins

I’ve never been a photography person even though I’ve owned several good cameras. My creative strengths have always been aural (music) and the written word. I’d rather look at something than capture it on a lens, and sometimes things happen so suddenly that all I can do is look in fascination. My cats had several such moments, and what they did would have made me a YouTube star if I had captured it on video, but this all happened before YouTube became popular.

I got William from a friend at the same time I bought my house, around 2000. William was a handsome black & white tuxedo cat, and everyone loved him. I decided he must be lonely, so I adopted a second cat, Justin from the Humane Society – Big mistake! William let me know his displeasure with sharing the house with another cat – no purrs, no cuddling, no petting, and no sleeping on my bed – no affection for at least six months. Here is the mathematical formula of square footage vs. cats:

200 sq. ft. studio apartment – 1 cat.

2,000 sq. ft. 3 bedroom house (like mine) – 1 cat.

20,000 sq. ft. McMansion – 1 cat.

It’s a real easy ratio to figure out. And no, they don’t get lonely; my cat is perfectly content sitting by himself, staring at a wall all day. So William & Justin had to figure out dominance in our household. William would eat first, carefully picking up each kibble and savoring every flavorful bite. Then Justin would rush in, creating an orgy of eating pleasure, the food flying up in the air in a cloud of chaos. William would look at Justin’s dinner manners, audibly sigh and walk away in disgust, “I can’t believe I’m roommates with this guy!”

My first You Tube moment was not as spectacular as the next two, but was really fun to watch. I bought a cat tree, about six feet high with several platforms going up. William & Justin simultaneously jumped onto the top level, then held their position on high ground next to each other, facing the window with their backs to me. I could feel the feline tension. Their tails wagged back & forth in perfect synchronization, left-to-right, left-to-right with furious intensity. It was like watching windshield wipers on a stormy night, both wanted that spot; neither willing to give it up. Every few minutes they’d look at each other momentarily, then resumed, eyes-forward. The intense wagging continued for about an hour. Finally, William lifted his right paw and calmly pushed Justin off the perch. Justin fell ignominiously; William sat alone at the top, victorious!

The next YouTube moment after William and Justin adjusted and started playing together. One day, hearing the galloping of paws, I turned around and saw Justin riding William like a thoroughbred racing horse. Justin was on Williams back, his claws dug in enough to hold on for dear life. They had this wild-eyed expression of thrill, fear & glee. They did two laps around my house when William bucked him off. It was like the feline Kentucky Derby, the track announcer calling positions, “Around the final bend, here comes #3 William by a nose, and it’s William, William, William wins the Feline Derby!” The above and following stories are true; I could not make this up:

My final YouTube moment (seen only by me) happened in my house. I keep the middle bedroom clean & sanitized for guests who have cat allergies; therefore the door is kept closed. One day I saw the cats trying to get in, so I lectured them why they can’t, “You’re good kitties, but some of my friends are allergic to your dander, so no cats, you can’t go in.” I shut the door with a click. William & Justin sat at the base of the door, their heads tilted up, studying the handle. I should note that the door handle is antique and oval shaped. Suddenly, both leaped up, getting their paws on the handle and opened the door, victoriously strutting in with their tails puffed up in pride! I scooted them out with a mixture of amazement, “Good kitties, Bad kitties, Smart kitties!’.

But I had to win, so I closed the door again and this time, as the door clicked, I turned the skeleton key to dead bolt it. I reinstated the rule, “No kitties allowed in this room!” The cats resumed their position sitting outside the door, eyes up and studying the situation. Then both leaped simultaneously, William snatching the door handle while Justin snagged the skeleton key. They pushed the door open, strutting in triumphantly, tails raised high; purring and totally pleased with themselves. My jaw dropped in amazement; I could barely believe what I just saw. From that point, the middle bedroom is open to guests and cats. I’m the only person who saw this, so you have to take my word. By the way, I think cats are smarter than we realize.