Green-card kittens

Occasionally I have to remind myself that to Tenzing and Edmund, everything in the world makes perfect sense. It's only the humans, who have this daft notion of 'logic,' that get confused about things that are perfectly normal to those inhabiting the feline world.

When they were kittens, all smells fascinated the two of them. Since I liked to cook, the kitchen was the part of the house that held the most intriguing and bold combinations of new smells. Overt—and covert—investigations soon followed, filled with twitching noses and forward-thrust whiskers and attentively spiked tails.

My parents rescued a sick and ailing kitten in the summer of 1990. Now eleven and firmly convinced of his lofty position in the world, the Bitser (diminutive of "Little Bit") thinks that raw chicken bits are gifts from the culinary gods.

When I moved to Alabama and got cats of my own, I expected them to have similar opinions of food. Thus, when I made dishes in the kitchen, I expected them to swirl around my feet and beg for similar snippets of food.

Every now and then, when Jeff wasn't looking, I'd slip them a bite or two. The practice didn't last long—not because Jeff caught me, which he did eventually—but because the cats weren't interested.

Whoever had heard of cats that didn't like chicken?

(Apparently, our cats.)

It took me a while to discover that yes, they were interested in some of the ingredients I was using in the kitchen, but the chicken wasn't one of those ingredients. When given chicken (raw or cooked), they would gingerly sniff it, occasionally give it a lick or two, and then leave it be. We came to rationalize, Jeff and I did, that their diet of dry cat food led the orange-and-white wonders to believe "if it doesn't crunch, it isn't cat food."

What were they interested in? The garlic. Yes, the garlic. I slipped them some roasted garlic one time, and they were fascinated.

Worse still: we discovered that Edmund, especially, adored tomato sauce. Not raw tomatoes, or tomato paste—tomato sauce, like what you'd sauce pasta with. Given a bowl, recently emptied of sauced pasta, the cat would lick it thoroughly clean and practically purr himself into a fit in the process.

Tenzing liked—and still likes—parmesan cheese. Not the yellow sprinkles from the green can—no, the shavings off of a block of the real stuff that his two-legged kitty-mother leaves in the fridge. He would literally jump into my lap and head-butt my hands until he got shavings of the cheese. Nothing like a lesson in human-feline sharing.

All this leads me to one conclusion: that in October of 1999, some Italian house cat (probably orange-striped and not neutered) sneaked his way into the States, making his way to Alabama, where he found himself a nice lady cat (probably calico, and definitely not spayed) and struck himself up a little romance.

We got stuck with the results—Edmund stealing Jeff's tomato sauce and Tenzing nibbling at my cheese.

As if I needed any more proof that I have the most spoiled, the most rotten, and the strangest house cats in the universe. Must be tough, having it as rough as these little guys do.