January 19, 2012
Fr. Peter Daly
Fr. Peter Daly writes about his “fat cat” Russell.
I live with a “fat cat.” I tell him he is part of the “one percent”. He doesn’t work. He just lies around the house all day or goes out and has fun. He is getting fatter by the week. He expects me to wait on him. He is picky about what he eats.
Even though he lives like one a Wall Street “fat cat” he is not one of them. He is a real cat; an orange Tabby. Of course, because he is my cat, I don’t think he is just an ordinary cat.
I call my big orange tabby “Russell.” He is the second orange tabby I have owned. The previous cat, “Paddy”, died a few years ago in a tragic accident involving the telephone cord. I buried Paddy on the front lawn.
Russell came to me about a year after Paddy died.
His previous owner, the real human Russell, was taken to the hospital with a very serious diabetic crisis. The doctor said he shouldn’t have a cat in the house, because of the danger of infection. So I took him and named him after his previous owner.
Russell, the feline, is definitely a fat cat. He weighs about 18 pounds. I should put him on a diet, but, like me, Russell likes his food. It is, after all, one of the permissible pleasures of celibate life. I know that Russell is celibate, because he was fixed a few years ago.
Russell has few enemies and lots of friends.
Whenever someone comes to the rectory to visit, he throws himself on his back with his paws up in the air, demanding to be scratched on his tummy.
He hates his carrier cage, but he likes the vet. He is the only cat I know who likes the vet. He is a celebrity at the animal hospital. The ladies there carry him around and scratch his tummy and give him kisses.
His enemies appear to be mostly mechanical. He is afraid of cars and vacuum cleaners. Whenever I start the car in the driveway, Russell heads for the hills. He especially hates vacuum cleaners. When the vacuum starts up he runs to the farthest corner of the house and hides.
Russell has many animal friends. He goes down to the neighbor’s house to visit the house cats there. Those cats are not allowed out, so they have to sit in the window to converse while Russell sits on their porch.
He also has some wild friends. There is a family of ground hogs in the cemetery. He is curious about them, but he won’t get too close. There are also some skunks in the woods nearby. He seems to get along well with them. I see him running across the front lawn with Mr. Skunk. But Russell is afraid of the local fox. He treats him like a vacuum cleaner.
Russell loves just birds, but I don’t think it is friendship. He sits on the porch watching them for hours. He ran after a crow once, but learned his lesson when the crow turned on him.
In the rectory, the fat cat has taken over. My bed is his bed. When he stretches out his 18 pounds, there is hardly any room for me.
I make Russell keep the liturgical calendar so he will remember that he is a Catholic cat. Fresh meat, and whole milk are reserved for Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Regular cat food and skimmed milk are for ferial days. He forgets a lot, just like most of us Catholics.