I got a cat. I love it. Its called Scarlet. Thats what its name was when I chose and bought it from the cat orphanage. I learned something at the cat orphanage. Girls who like small animals are attractive. Theyre attractive in a, not-afraid-to-lug-litter way. Luggin litter isnt something you learn in college, you learn it if you put excess time in caring for small animals. You want a gal who cares for small animals to excess, it means shell care less about what you do, and less, in many cases, is just right. This isnt a column about litter luggin lovelies; Its about my feline, Scarlet, and what shes taught me about feeling. I was startled to be finding full cat toenails lying on the floor. I assume a cats sharp nails are important for their all around well being, and seeing entire strong curved and pointy cat nails lying about alarmed me. Imagine a home with full human finger nails spread about? I wondered if it was her diet causing the nail loss, but was pretty sure I was feeding her the best food because I buy it at a feed store from a hot animal loving not-afraid-to-lug-litter babe, who went to animal food school (so the girls at the orphanage told me). When I asked the food school graduate girl about the nail loss, she told me shed sold me the best cat food on the market, and assured me it was totally natural that Scarlet be losing her nails, Its the new nail growing in, she said. I was relieved, and very happy. Now I no longer spend evenings gluing Scarlets old nails back on. Scarlets a great cat, she doesnt get into stuff like plants, and cupboards, and toilets and bathtubs, and my inner thoughts. She does scratch my hemlock beams, but thats perfect, theyre huge and hard and take the brunt of scratching from the soft furniture. Ha, I just wrapped an afghan around little Scarlet, all curled up snake-like, cozy, warm, on the couch. Then I stepped back and performed for her a swivel-hipped jig, ala John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, to the country tune, A Little Less Talk and Allot More Action. With only her cute little head visible from under the afghan, Scarlet watched me dance. Her face had on it the look of an old woman in a nursing home watching a game of ping-pong; Steven Spielberg couldnt have directed her to a more appropriate look. Gol darn shes a cute little cat. Shes black and white, and I pick her up, one hand beneath her behind, the other in front of her chest, held firmly between her front legs. I walk to the window, and together we look out across the valley to the mountains. When I kiss the top of her head her front paws come into view, side by side, whiter than white, and soft looking; Shes happy Im holding her, and she begins to purr. I begin to melt. I have a cat. Haaa haaa. I lay on the couch, and in a freaked out baby voice I talk to Scarlet like Im some fruit cake, as she jumps up onto my belly and starts kneading. She kneads, and kneads, and kneads, and to you folks whove had cats its not a big deal, but I find it strange, and really, really painful. I mean this cat kneads. Ive got so many tiny holes in my stomach and chest that when I drink standing up my shirt becomes drenched. Im glad she doesnt decide to knead a little south, cause if she did, my generaltalia would end up generally confused. After she eats she clicks across the hardwood floor toward me, meowing thank-yous in short, medium, and long blasts. I love that. Scarlets meows are less like meows and more like words than one could imagine. Shed get the job over any cat at an audition for one of those annoying meowing, barking, Christmas Carol records. In fact, she nonchalantly meowed a Pa rum pum pum pum the other day that would have made Bing Crosby blush. I love that. Ill be standing, or sitting, and Ill look down to see her mimicking my posture to a tee. I love that. Sometimes, during the wee hours of the night, she rises from bed, gets the scrub-brush and cleanser, and tidies the master bathroom. I love that. Mornings I stretch on the floor, and she sits up against me, her little mouth turned up on each side. Shes smiling. I love that. From 9:00 to about 10:15 Thursday mornings, she starts running from one end of my great room, and when she gets up a good head of steam, she belly-flops to the floor and glides. Shes my little cat central vac. I love that. There are thin, wispy, light colored, long fur hairs coming out of her ears. I love those hairs. Shes clean to the point that she has a perpetual new cat smell. Her fur glistens, its soft and smooth to pet. I love that. She doesnt have extra fingers on her paws. I love that. Some cats do have extra toes on their paws. Id love that too. She answered an ad in the paper for a heavy construction equipment operator. I think she misread construction as catstruction. Well anyway, she got the job. Shes running a D-6 Cat dozer. Her take home is more than mine. I love that. I even love her yawn breath. I find it odd that we can have such unconditional, pure, clear, non-judgmental, unquestioning, healthy, natural, easy love for animals, while at the same time find it sometimes unbelievably difficult to conjure similar feeling for humans. Maybe Evel Knievel said it best when asked why he was a daredevil. I cant help it. Its born in me. I cant help it.