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The Cat Pushes My Buttons

by Roberta McReynolds

Just another quiet evening at home, peaceful and idealistic; Mike and I contentedly growing older together while watching reruns of M*A*S*H on television. Our mackerel-striped tabby cat, Ishi, knows exactly where to find us and she couldn’t be more pleased that we are so predictable. When it comes to fulfilling her needs this makes life much simpler for the real queen of the house.

She jumps up between us on the sofa to get her regular dose of petting and neck rubs at least two or three times each evening. When it’s my turn Ishi climbs into my arms and snuggles like a baby, gazing lovingly at my face as I stroke her fur. If my eyes should stray over to the television for longer than Ishi believes is appropriate, she will reach her paw up to my cheek and turn my face back toward hers … repeatedly.

When the warmer seasons flourish and she begins to shed, Ishi will saunter over to the coffee table and swipe a paw over the surface to snag her comb, knocking it to the floor. Then she transmits a look that clearly communicates, "Are you paying attention, human? Or are you too dense to figure out the service I require of you?"

I obediently lean over to pick up the comb as she positions herself on the pillow next to me to be groomed. Since we both wish to reduce the number of hairballs hacked up in the middle of the night, this qualifies as a win-win situation. I try not to dwell on details like how long she intends the beauty appointment will last and that it is always on her schedule, not mine.

Mike is the one she prefers to rub her neck and ears. I don’t know what the difference is, but I can’t argue the fact that he does have very good hands. Personally, I don’t enjoy the ear rubbing, but the neck massages are terrific. It’s safe to say we both ‘purr’.

A new twist in the routine developed after Mike was given a giant television remote control from a friend, selected especially for the extra large buttons that are easy to see. It was intended as something halfway between a birthday joke and useful device. The monster-sized unit stays on the sofa between us, directly in line with the path Ishi takes from my lap across the sofa cushions to Mike’s hands.

Normally the cat carefully steps over obstacles, but for some reason her paw landed directly on it one evening. Ishi peered at it as though she had never actually seen it before. She sat right down on her haunches and scrutinized it for a moment, then reached out and tapped a couple buttons. Our feline successfully changed the channel to the Home Shopping Network! She looked up at the television and then back down to the remote, apparently grasping the connection between the two devices, including the irresistible little red light that flashes whenever a button is pushed.

Ishi turned her attention back to the screen and watched a woman talking about, "… a beautiful set of diamond earrings for the incredibly low price of only $69.95." I told Ishi they were lovely, but reminded her that her ears were not pierced.

As if on cue, she glanced at the remote and turned the volume down a couple notches. Next she tried more numbers, but we don’t receive the expanded cable stations she desired. I shudder to think what might happen if Ishi ever discovers Pay-Per-View.

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