O.K., I can definitely understand the viewpoint of the older brother in the Prodigal Son scenario and I have to wonder if there might be a story to be told about how family life went on after the younger brother returned, all contrite and  grateful for a crust of bread, let alone the Fatted Calf.  The older brother, upon reflection,  probably could understand his father’s actions, especially if he had a son of his own who was a pistol. However, IF the returned prodigal then proceeded to return to “wine, women and song”, Part II, there might be repercussions that would make “Family Feud” look like “Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.” The feline version of this instructive tale is going on, with variations and interpretations, in my house this very moment.

Champ, the recently-returned low cat-on-the-totem pole, so to speak, had apparently spent his six months or so abroad entertaining his little kitty imagination with new things that he might do upon returning.  And now he’s doing them.

He has found a bag or two of cat food that I keep in reserve against the inevitable day when I forget to fetch some new stuff into the house to stave off starvation and imminent death of the furry inhabitants.  Not only did he find the bags, he proceeded to open them to check out the contents.  Some he liked; some, not so much.  Many of the old cat toys have reappeared.  I know this because I have stepped on them.  The scratching pad is getting a new work-out.  He’s been spending time chewing his way out of a cardboard box.  It’s open; he gets inside and gnaws at the flaps and corners.  He’s joined Bob in enjoying drinking from the bathroom faucet (They all—even Spooky from the basement—much prefer that to drinking from their fountain in the basement, where their food is.  What they like to do with the fountain is to knock off its top and play in the water.) whenever they get the chance.  Makes brushing teeth in the morning an adventure of sorts (I’m not real adventurous in the morning).  He found the stash of cat treats by the back door and punctured their seals to see what might be tasty…and to see how far across the kitchen floor he could scatter them—and the dog treats too, of course. Definitely did not care for the People Crackers for dogs.

SOMEBODY—casting no aspersions here—has apparently been doing consumer research down in the litter box area. (We followed standard procedure here, one box per cat and “one for the house” but since two of the kitties have left us, there are spares) Boxes—and litter—not used for some time are, all of a sudden, being patronized quite vigorously.  I feel that I should channel Mr. Whipple, who used to tell shoppers, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.”  Only, I’d have to say, “Please don’t fling  the litter.”

Side note : Anybody else see the news item about Boeing Aircraft working on a self-sterilizing bathroom for its planes?  More people being jammed onto planes and less time on the ground for cleaning have created “a situation” where these necessary features (That’s what a sanitary facility , whether indoor or out, used to be called, “the necessary”) are not quite what a passenger might hope when having to use one.  Anyhow, Boeing says that, using what they called “Far” ultraviolet light—not harmful to humans– for 3 seconds, they could sanitize all surfaces in the space.  If this technology works out, I’m going to have a litter box area, a bathroom—maybe kitchen too—that glows purple all night.

Back to cats.  How do I know that it’s Champ that is doing this?  Well, strictly speaking, I don’t. Never have seen him do anything untoward. Haven’t seen a thing. But this stuff did not go on while he was gone.  The evidence is all circumstantial but the bad guys on TV get sent up the river all of the time this way.  Judge Judy would buy it, I’ll bet.

Also about cats….  The journal Applied Animal Behavior reports that some animal owners may be petting their cats all wrong. (Good enough for ‘em, I say) These researchers—they get paid for this—claim that cats like being touched around the face (eyes and ears) and dislike any action around their tails,  especially at the base.  They are also pickier about how their owners pet them than strangers ( See above comment).  And finally, cats  appreciate/are less annoyed by music written especially for their pitch( an octave higher) and tempo (based on purring),rather than classical music.   Well, La-di-dah.  No a capella kitty.  No cat cantatas.  My  personal ensemble here may well be rappers or gang-bangers, heavy on the percussion and “things that go bump in the night.”  Not likely to hit the Billboard Top 100.

And speaking of numbers….  There’s a Mamma Cat on the porch who looks like she’s about to pop.  The last two times that she did this (Probably with the connivance of the NFL linebacker cat who shows up from time to time), she had the kittens inside somebody’s boat, which had a loose cover.  The neighbor cat-finder girl usually could locate them and distribute them to friends and family.  She’s moved and I can’t quite see shipping them to Tennessee.  Anybody want a kitten?

Ogden Nash—“The trouble with a kitten’s that…. Eventually, it becomes a cat.”