About the time I became the owner of Sugar, my adorable cocker spaniel, my veterinarian neighbor, Dr. McKee, became the owner of several cats. His was a gradual type ownership, because he did not go out and buy these cats; he did not even ask anybody to give him a cat. He did not receive these cats as gifts from well meaning souls who were owners of so many felines they felt a need to inflict ownership upon friends and acquaintances. They just hung around and one day he fed them and they adopted him. They knew a good thing when they saw it. He became very fond of these cats and the numerous kittens they produced.

His wife, however, did not share his fondness for his “kitty babes” and was constantly swatting them off the front porch with her broom. This did not discourage the cats; they forgave her. It did serve to make them very alert when they saw someone approaching with a broom, garden rake or instrument of that type. They were a hardy bunch, were unbelievably fertile and very frugal with the nine lives allotted each of them.

One night, after we had gone to bed, a bunch of Doc’s cats congregated under our house. This friendly, sociable meeting deteriorated after a while and the meeting turned into a full scaled brawl. One of them must have been very eager to disengage himself from the battle as he ran the entire length of our house screaming and battering his head on every sill under there. Needless to say, this woke us up, and always being easy to entertain, we laughed and made comments about the speed of the cat trying to escape. We could judge his speed by the rate his head was hitting the sills. Shortly after his speedy escape the cats disbursed themselves to other interesting areas in the neighborhood and we went back to sleep.

The next morning we casually looked the crop of cats over but didn’t see one in the bunch with a banged up head. We didn’t find a dead or unconscious cat in the yard either, so we assumed that the worst that came of the sill-bumping incident was probably a severe headache for some unfortunate feline.

Doc’s cats could be described as inscrutable, stoic and fatalistic. They took head bumps, broom swats and occasional brawls with other cats in their stride. They endured what had to be endured and then went and took another nap. They did have limits beyond which they would not be pushed, however, and my spaniel was the one who made this unfortunate discovery. He was out in the yard one afternoon when he saw two or three of Doc’s cats having a meeting on the sidewalk across the street. His canine instincts apparently told him he had to go rip up those cats. He ran toward them at top speed, barking and carrying on like a fool which, as it turned out, was exactly what he was. Those cats, warned by all of the noise my dog was making, sized up the situation and immediately withdrew into the dense shrubbery in their yard. My dog, flattered and encouraged by their flight, ran into the shrubbery after them.

I couldn’t see what happened, although the whole thing happened right there in the bushes not ten feet from where I was standing. There was a lot of thrashing around and screaming and noise in the shrubbery, most of the screaming being done by my dog, if my ears were operating correctly. By the time the unfortunate pooch discovered what a terrible mistake he had made it was too late to retreat. When he finally escaped, the cats had ripped his ears, bloodied his nose and effectively wilted his spirit.

The episode ended his cat-chasing career. He had his pride but he wasn’t proud enough to test those cats again. After that episode he ignored cats and the cats ignored him. Those cats treated all dogs with contempt and my dog, for one, was happy with looks of contempt after the thrashing they gave him.