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Getting Personal | TELL

Enough with the cat stories

August 26, 2004|Howard Leff | Special to The Times

"Can I tell you what my cat did today?"

(Note: The following "Catwoman" tale features neither Halle Berry nor a single leather bustier. Unfortunately.)

Yes, catgirls, we adore your precious kitties, but honestly, the above question is likely the one your date/boyfriend fears most. No offense, but I'm guessing even hardened animal lovers have to feign interest. It's quite likely, I'm afraid, only you care what your cat did today. Or yesterday.

Unless your cat, say, learns how to read. Dickens. Until he's reading "David Copperfield" and writing notes in the margin, I don't want to know about it. Barring that, no, you cannot tell me what your cat did. Actually, you can tell me, but I'll be thinking about how the Lakers let Shaq get away.

However, gentlemen, when the catwoman you're wooing purrs "Can I tell you what Tigger (or Felix, or Professor Fluffybuttons ) did today?" -- I'm afraid you have limited options.

You could:

A: Say "not right now."

Result: Are you insane? This means almost certain turmoil. Use only in extreme cases, like when you're on the verge of breaking up anyway.

B: Pretend you didn't hear the question.

Result: Mixed. I've tried this one. It could work if you quickly divert her attention to another pressing matter, like how amazingly pretty you think she looks. Or the fact that the house is on fire. Use sparingly, and always follow up with "Are those new shoes, sweetie? They're really cute."

C: Kiss her unexpectedly.

Result: It's spontaneous and fun, but you're only putting off the inevitable. Plus, it'll only strengthen her mistaken belief that you really do want to know.

D: Steel yourself and reply, "Uh, sure, what did he do?"

Result: Oh, the sheer horror of it all. Like swallowing aluminum-flavored cold medicine -- you hate the taste, but in the end, you'll sleep better.

"Well," she begins. "When I parked my car, Felix walked over, jumped through the window and just curled up on my lap. Right there in the driveway."

Uh-huh. "Oh, that's really cute," you manage.

What's really behind a woman's desire to stroke, pet, cuddle and prattle on about her kitty? Get with it. You're looking at pure baby preparation. Forget mood swings, this is the single woman's way of showing you that she's ready for a child. Much like a mother bird prepares the nest, my ex-girlfriend would litter the living room with toys, exotic treats and scratching posts. Oh, wait a minute, that was for me.

Think of it as a rehearsal. She gets a chance to practice loving a creature more than life itself, and you get a sneak peek at what sort of mommy she'll make. How she'll care for the baby. But remember, gentlemen, when the baby's acting up, you can't just toss him out on the porch. Well, you could, but you'll likely attract nosy neighbors, not to mention possible jail time.

There comes a time in every boy/girl/cat relationship when you'll feel a twinge of jealousy. "Why can't she treat me like that?" you'll wonder. "Why does he get to sit in her lap while I'm over here alone eating lime-flavored chips out of a bag? Why does he get to sleep all day and stay out all night?"

I'll tell you why. Because Professor Fluffybuttons isn't going anywhere. He's not out there trying to sneak into Hooters. Or watching "Celebrity Poker." He loves her unconditionally and she knows it. You? Well, she has her doubts.

Bottom line: Cats can present a significant obstacle to a successful, loving relationship.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go walk my dog. Wanna know what she did today?

*

Next!

Mitts off, pal. Or, why don't guys get the friendship thing?

Howard Leff can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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