Opinion: Thank you, dear readers, for writing about your cats

A cat lies near a ball.
Willow, the Biden family’s pet cat, takes a break at the White House on Jan. 27.
(Erin Scott / Associated Press)

As a cat person who currently has dogs (I’m finding it hard to replace my late friends Siri — named years before the eponymous Apple assistant, thank you very much — and Leif Erikson), I’ve found that one key difference between guardians of the two kinds of animals is that cat parents resign themselves to a kind of inter-species codependency and must tolerate a level of emotional complexity found less often in dogs.

So I was delighted to read the July 13 op-ed column by Robin Abcarian about the “4-pound, furry ball of destruction” she inherited from her late father, a 22-year-old cat named Inky who must now cohabitate with dogs many times her size. Reading only that, any experienced cat person would know how this turned out for Abcarian.

I was also amused by letters from readers describing their own experiences with their new feline roommates. There were tales of rearranging rooms and lives to accommodate the new companions; some did this successfully, if grudgingly, while others admitted they couldn’t take the upheaval and found new homes for the cats. Those who made it work, so to speak, learned to embrace the habits and inconveniences in ways that would seem masochistic to some but entirely relatable to other cat parents (or at least to me).



To the editor: I laughed and sprayed my morning paper with coffee while reading Abcarian’s column. I inherited “Mommy’s” 12-year-old cat eight years ago. Every year at this time she tears out her hair in chunks, so I have hunks of black hair everywhere.

My three dogs adapted to her while she took over their territory, including their beds. I built two cages outside with open access to the house so she could roam, lay in the sunshine and explore the outside world without being carried off by a hawk or eaten by a coyote. (No, I don’t live in the mountains; I live in Long Beach.)

I’ve learned she loves her head rubbed, she’s a great lap warmer, what foods work with her ever-changing finicky tastes, and how she always knew when I was on a home video conference call and plopped herself on papers in view of the camera.

She’s annoying, is deaf now and meows so loudly the neighbors asked if I knew what feral cat in heat was around. With all this, after these eight years adjusting to her, I know I will miss her greatly when she is gone.

Jeanne Smart, Long Beach


To the editor: So much going on here.

I often admire friends’ and neighbors’ devotion to pets and other animals, and see pet guardianship as a very good thing. (Animal cruelty is certainly a red flag of someone you don’t want in your life.)


But, but, but — Abcarian’s lengthy description of her late father’s house cat, Inky, is a lesson in taking something way too far.

Twenty years ago I took on a pampered cat from a co-worker who wanted to make some changes in his life, but a month or two later my mother suffered a stroke and I was the only family member available to take over managing her life.

My new cat’s response to this crisis? He urinated on my bed, which of course made sleeping on it unthinkable.

The next day I told the cat’s former owner that I could not and would not set aside my greater obligations to figure out my new cat’s emotional needs, and he had to take it back or I would leave it at the nearest animal shelter. He took it back.

I read Abcarian’s story feeling pity for her and seriously doubt her late father really expected her to tolerate such abuse and ridiculous expenses. She’s made reasonable efforts to adapt to Inky, but it seems like Inky has made her home unlivable.

Abcarian can make her own decisions, but I wouldn’t be so accommodating. At some point even pets have to shape up or ship out. When a pet owner’s goodwill is met with intentional scorn and disgusting behavior, a well-meaning adult in his or her own home has a right to say, “Enough!”

Rob Briner, Anaheim


To the editor: What a delightful, soothing and much needed article by Abcarian. Most everything one reads these days in the newspapers is about war, inflation, crime or some other crisis.

Thus, reading about Poppy the dog and Inky the cat made my day.

Christine Peterson, Woodland Hills


To the editor: I grew up in England taken by my mother to cat shows and reading the cat books penned by Paul Gallico. I thought for decades he was the finest author ever to pen the charms of cats.

But now Abcarian has matched him with a tribute to the 4-pound feline master of her home who gives no quarter, dominates her household, is unawed by a dog 15 times her size and yet comes through as irresistible.

Abcarian’s piece is the most heartwarming cat article I have read in more than 70 years.

Laurence Pretty, Altadena