Cheryl Hughes: Fat Cat
I have a thirty-pound cat. I know how unbelievable that sounds, but Dougle’s records are on file at Heritage Animal Clinic in Morgantown. My oldest daughter, Natalie, brought him home with her about twelve years ago. At the time, I had made a no-more-cats rule, but one look at Dougle persuaded me to add an amendment. He was, hands down, the cutest kitten I had ever seen.
In appearance, Dougle looks like a cross between a Himalayan and a Siamese. My husband, Garey, says he knows the cat is part Himalayan, because every time he sees Dougle, him-a-layin on the couch or him-a-layin on the floor. I’ve looked through several cat references, and the breed that resembles him the closest is the Balinese.
Through the years, as Dougle has grown in size, Garey and the kids have accused me of over-feeding him. I tell them he is just big-boned. He is. He’s taller than a Pug and longer than a Dachshund, and sitting here just now seeing him next to Lucy (my friend Jess’s dog), I realize that he is actually the size of a Cocker Spaniel. Maybe, I am feeding him too much. Naw, it’s all that hair. It makes him appear larger than he actually is. Dougle has often been mistaken for a throw rug or a sweater by first-time visitors. More than one guest has been startled when the sweater jumps down from its resting place on the couch.
When my daughter, Nikki, was home for Christmas, she took several pictures of Dougle to take back to her skeptical friends. She attempted to show his sheer volume by placing him next to smaller items like a toaster oven, a carry-on bag and my granddaughter. “It’s no use,” Nikki said, “It’s like trying to tell someone how big a whale is. You can look at pictures of one all day long, but you really can’t grasp the size until you see it for yourself.
Because of his size, people are often taken aback when they first see Dougle. We’ve had visitors who were afraid to get out of their vehicles when they saw him sprawled out on the back steps. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, Dougle is really just a big baby. He is the personification of the term fradey-cat. He is afraid of snow, thunder storms, the vacuum cleaner, trash bags, anything with a spray nozzle, and new throw rugs. Curiosity will never kill this cat.
The thing I like most about Dougle is his tolerance for my granddaughter’s antics. Sabria uses his bushy tail to tidy up the couch and kitchen floor; and, like the E-Trade baby in the commercials, she has spent several minutes in time-out for riding Dougle “like a small horse.” Dougle simply takes it in stride, just crying pitifully to get my attention when Sabria pushes him too far.
Everyone in the family has threatened to give Dougle away at one time or another. He’s one of those cats who is always under our feet or vying for our attention or hogging our favorite spots on the couch. If the truth be told, he puts up with as much out of us as we do him. Dougle is one of us, and I hope he lives many more years here on this hill with my family and me. After all, he has become a fixture, like the throw rugs and the sweaters.