By now, everyone in the known universe seemingly has seen the video of Tara the Hero Cat, the terror tabby that saved a Bakersfield family's 4-year-old son who was being attacked by a neighbor's dog.
Cat lovers everywhere rejoiced. Dog lovers everywhere … well, I don't really know what they did. Probably cringed, both at the bad actor that the dog was in this incident, and that a dog got its rear kicked (literally) by a cat.
Me? Well, I had a slightly, ah, different reaction.
You see, we have a cat. Or rather, she has us — to attend to her every need, to pamper her, to feed and pet and otherwise cater to her, while she, of course, pays us as little notice as possible. Except at 5 a.m. when she wants more food, or to go outside. She then howls at the bedroom door or, if especially annoyed, leaps onto the dresser and proceeds to knock items off, one by one, until someone rises to do her bidding.
OK, yes, we love her.
But now I have a problem: I have a serious case of cat envy. Now I want Tara the Hero Cat. I want that combination of love and ferociousness.
Here's what I have instead:
A few years ago, while the rest of us were out but my ailing teenage son slept in, and with the cat snoozing on her favorite family room chair, burglars broke in the back door. They rifled through the place, taking cash and valuables.
My son? He slept through it.
My cat? Apparently, she did too.
That's right: No Tara the Hero Cat. Rather, I have Huck the Help Yourself to Whatever You Want Cat.
In fact, the only people she has attacked are the two nice neighbors who alternate taking care of her when we're on vacation. Burglars, she's fine with. Good Samaritans? Not so much.
OK, honestly, I'm happy that Tara the Hero Cat is getting its well-earned 15 minutes of fame. But now I'm wondering: Where did I go wrong? Like with my boys (as my wife scolds me often), was I too easy on our cat, providing a lifestyle filled with endless hours of lounging, comfortable places to rest, an ample supply of food — but no demands, no chores, no responsibilities? Should I have asked more? And if I had, would I too have a hero cat?
Actually, I mentioned this to the cat last night. She looked at me, then stretched, yawned and returned to grooming herself.
Apparently, as with many parenting missteps, there are just things that you don't find out until it's too late.
So I guess I'll just hope a dog doesn't attack me in my driveway. Because I'm pretty sure my cat will just watch — from her favorite perch by the window.