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CAT CALLS 
                                                           
           
            Calvin was homely as a child, the only baby who never once evoked coos or cries of joy at his sweet face. Far from being the ugly duckling, growing into a handsome specimen to be admired, he hasn’t improved much with age. He has a tiny head, big eyes, a long striped body and a crooked tail that points to magnetic north. His meow sets your neck hairs on end. If Calvin was a painting, he’d be on black velvet, clearance-priced in a mall parking lot flea market. And he’s mine.
            Now, I don’t want you thinking I’m a cat person, because I’m not. I don’t ever want to be a cat person. There’s no return on investment with a cat. Lay down your money and what do you get? Indifference. Puked-up hair balls. Shredded furniture. The Litter Box. A four-legged demon that peers down at you through yellow eyes from the top of the curtains.
            Now, a dog ... that’s a pet  You can take a dog on a picnic. Take a German Shepherd for a walk in the park and see how many men notice you. ‘Nice dog’, they say, smiling. Would they stop if they saw me walking my cat? I think not.
            But I digress.
            The only reason I have Calvin is that he came, part and parcel, with my new house. He’d probably been abandoned by his owners who were, apparently, much wiser than I, and had taken up residence in the garage. His pitiful mewing - with all the musical cadence of a Mongolian Throat Singer - sent me running to the corner store for food and milk, which he devoured in seconds. Then the little tyke tucked into the palm of my hand and purred. No, that’s not when I decided to keep him because, as I mentioned, I’m not a cat person. Cute? Yes. Mine? No. He had to go.

            I returned to said corner store and posted a notice - ‘FREE KITTEN TO A GOOD HOME’.  A week later I scratched out ‘TO A GOOD HOME’.
            No takers.
            So I named him Calvin and officially adopted him, which means I spent three hundred bucks on vet bills and colourful cat toys. “All I can say is you’d better be a good mouser,” I told him as I ladled kitty litter into a plastic bin.   
            My gentle Shepherd, Hannah, became his surrogate mother. She let the kitty nestle into her warm tummy as she lay on the floor protecting hew new baby. Calvin searched in vain for a nipple but suckled  instead on the soft folds of Hannah’s belly while Hannah licked his head and poked him with her big black nose.
            He’d launch himself from hiding spots to ride around on her tail, claws dug in for dear life. He’d spar with her nose, use her as a mattress, tip over her water bowl. How she put up with Calvin the Terrible is beyond me.  If I had been in Hannah’s place, I’d have taken my big paw and batted the little mutant into the middle of next week. But then, unlike my dog, I don’t particularly like cats.
            When Hannah passed away, Calvin and I were devastated. For three weeks, his tortured meow threatened to drive me over the edge of sanity, so I made a trip to the local animal shelter and bought him a new friend. A three hundred and fifty dollar pound kitty (fifty bucks for the kitty, three hundred for vet bills and colourful cat toys.)
            Okay, I admit it. Lying entwined in each other’s arms, they look kind of cute. I can begin to comprehend their appeal. And that scares the daylights out of me. Am I am going to become the middle-aged crazy woman who lives ‘alone’ with nine cats? My best friend, a committed spinster, already has seven. Is this how it all starts? Innocent little fuzzy-faces casting a spell on your cold heart until you have a coven of kitties? ‘Nay nay’, I say. That’s not a road I will go down willingly.
            But the vet just called. She has an adorable marmalade kitten she’s trying to find a home for. And it’s not like I don’t have the room for one more.
            I fear numbers three through nine are merely a whisker away.