Rita, a small black cat, has recently become a member of our household.

I can confidently make this statement now, but for the first few days it was little more than a rumor. All I had glimpsed was a black streak shooting down the hallway.

Rita is somewhat shy, and she has spent most of the time under one bed or another. Then early one morning, still groggy with sleep, I realized a creature had leaped onto my bed on its way up to the windowsill. This little interaction lasted about 30 seconds and then she was off and running.

Even so, Rita is a welcome and long awaited gift to my son from his sister-in-law. Having had experience with cats in the past, we know it will take a little time until this new cat feels at ease and is ready to socialize. We can be patient.

Our resident dog hasn’t yet come face to face with the new arrival, but she knows something is up and appears a little apprehensive about the new addition.

At one time our family, which included five children still at home, could be labeled “strictly dog people.” Then a stray black cat began hanging around our house here in Greenville, and our daughter who was then about 8 or 9 years old decided to adopt him.

First she brought him into the garage and fixed up a box with soft rags because it was going to turn very cold that night, she solemnly informed us. He immediately began cleaning himself up, and before my husband arrived home, the cat looked absolutely handsome sitting there in his box, ready for inspection.

Felix, as we named the cat, was the first in a long line of felines we‘ve loved. It was a surprise to me to learn that dogs and cats, although initially cranky with one another, can eventually work out a more or less peaceful coexistence.

The internet is full of quotes about cats’ attitudes, and while I find the observations amusing, there is more than a grain of truth in them. Here are a few that I’ve found particularly apt:

• You can teach a cat to do anything … that it wants to do.

• Cats are smarter than dogs. You couldn’t get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow.

• Dogs come when they’re called. Cats take a message and get back to you later.

• Your cat will never threaten your popularity with neighbors by barking at 3 in the morning. He won’t attack the mailman or chew the curtains, although he may climb the drapes to see how the room looks from the ceiling.

• In olden times cats were worshipped as gods. They haven’t forgotten this.

• Any cat who flubs his attack on a mouse pretends he was actually aiming for the dead leaf nearby.

• The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their faces whether they see a nearby moth or an axe-murderer.

• If the earth were flat, cats would have pushed everything off it by now.

• No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, but no amount of masking tape can totally remove his fur from your couch.

Most of us find that time spent with cats is never wasted however, and in that vein of thought, welcome to our home little Rita. Now settle down and come sit with me.

Carol Ferguson is a weekend columnist for the Herald-Banner.

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