Artist's Lane: Cats on CPAP and other tails


By Betty Slade

PREVIEW Columnist

I’m not one to bond with furry friends. I put up with them as a means of keeping peace in the family. But, the baby talk, that perfect toy and finicky-eater treats — it’s all nonsense to me. 

These days, we know what keeps us grounded. Maybe befriending those who are closest to it is our key to happiness. 

Friends invited me out to lunch to celebrate my birthday. As always, I tried to be present in the moment. But before long, I found myself sitting alone as my table mates oohed and awed over their feline and canine kind. 

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciated the birthday sentiment, and equally appreciate my friends, but I think lunch would have been more productive had I sent my Sweet Al in my place. 

Do you remember the days when grandma thumbed through her never-ending stack of Polaroids? Whether asked or not, the first person to make eye contact at the holiday gathering was sure to be fanned by page after page from the photo album. 

“Remember when Johnny was 1? Now look at him at 2. He was so cute at 3.”

Flash forward 20 years and there I sat, perched between friends swiping left and right on their phones. Poppy is in a pink sweater. Teddy wore a matching hat and cuffs. Then there is Bella in her tutu.

Grandchildren, yes. Granddogs, heavens no!

I get the idea that pets ask for nothing in return, they provide emotional support and love unconditionally, but so does a good throw. 

Back at the table, one of my friends said she had just adopted a new cat. She spent 10 minutes telling us what happened to the last one, then another 10 telling what she had planned for her new one. 

Before long, the conversation just between girls moved to sleeping arrangements and I shuddered with horror. 

One of my friends said that all three of her cats sleep with her. One at her feet, one at her back and one stretched over the top of her head with its paw hanging down on top of her CPAP machine.

Am I hearing this right? A cat on the CPAP? I couldn’t even begin to envision the scene. Each friend took turns sharing who hogged the covers and who made pillow talk. 

I can only imagine the look on my face as I sat there with arms crossed and my head tilted to the side. 

Then someone asked, “What about you?”

“I will never share my bed with Whiskey unless my Sweet Al plans on sleeping outside. And even then, it better be in a flask and not on my pillow.”

 “Did something happen in your childhood that makes you not like dogs?”

“Good question. No.”

I’m just not into dogs. More so, I’m not one to make bedfellows with those on all four. Maybe it’s because mine is the house that boards those whose owners go on vacation. I have an arsenal of carpet cleaner in the cabinet to prove it. 

Alas, for the lad and his Lassie, I will continue to put up with my Sweet Al and his adored pup, even if it means that I don’t get to sit down and eat unless there is a dog at my feet. If nothing less, it brings levity during the breaking of the unleavened. 

Final brushstroke: We live in a dog’s (or cat’s) world. Nowadays, my family likes to watch YouTube videos of dogs playing soccer, skateboarding or running obstacle courses. I will concede this. It certainly beats watching the news. But I’ll take a good blanket minus the bad breath, any day.

My friend and faithful reader, Mr. G, called to wish me a happy birthday. He told me he read the story about the yellow lab and about the one they had adopted. I’m still not a dog person, Mr. G, but this article is for you.

“Betty, ‘Listen to the Silence,’ You are so right and your column is so good. I ache when I think of all I must have missed because of not listening well to the silence. It takes extraordinary sensibility to perceive the message hidden in someone’s silence. RG, Arizona”

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