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Cat for hire
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D. Barbara McWhite grew up in York County, S.C., and lives in Orange Park, Fla., with her husband and cat. Her column is published here each Tuesday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.

As a first-time owner and pet-parent, I must admit that my Rover -- the cutest and smartest cat ever -- lives a pampered life.

For catching an occasional rodent, he is rewarded with a full run of the house and yard, 24-hour access to my lap, sofa and bed, frequent body massages and prescription cat food so pricey that it makes me want to enroll Rover under Obamacare and claim him as a dependent on my taxes.

Then the other day I read about a cat that tried to sneak into a Brazilian prison with a cell phone, earphone, memory card, batteries, phone charger, a file and a drill. Police suspect the cat was being used as a conduit to transport contraband into the prison by one or more of its 263 inmates. A police spokesman was quoted as saying, “It’s tough to find out who is responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak.”

Now, having read about the Brazilian contraband runner, I am beginning to suspect that I have underestimated the capabilities of my feline friend. The Brazilian cat, which I’m sure is no smarter than my Rover, undoubtedly has hired himself out as some kind of James Bond/James West phone-runner for hire. And to help its family during these hard economic times, he was willing to risk its nine lives to smuggle contraband into prisons.

Or perhaps he was operating undercover as a reporter for some big news magazine. Determined to get the jailhouse scoop, he was willing to hide his cell camera and supplies on his body. He would then sell his story to Enquirer magazine for a small fortune, invest in gold futures and ensure the financial security of his human family and himself.

And just today I read about a brave Australian watch-cat that woke his employer to alert her that a large constrictor was in bed with her and was, at that moment, encircling the arm of her sleeping child. No doubt this cat takes seriously its obligation to give back to the family that feeds and shelters him…fending off large snakes, scaring off burglars and making sure the children aren’t watching Kardashians or “Housewives of Atlanta.”

Meanwhile, Rover El-Gotto McWhite wakes me up each morning precisely at 6 a.m. with wild-eyed keening, demanding I feed him breakfast. After breakfast he hunts me down, makes a flying leap into my lap and nudges my hand until he convinces it to begin stroking his head and neck. Then after his morning massage, he stalks off to a soft, quiet corner of the nearest sofa or bed to sleep the day away while I work to earn our keep.

When my workday is finally over, Rover comes alive. Following me step-for-step and ignoring his pet door, he demands that I let him out through the front door for his usual evening stroll. Later on, when he thinks I’ve finished cooking dinner, he is back to demand supper. And after another body massage, he settles onto the couch or onto my lap for the night.

Hey! Something is wrong with this picture.

Times are hard and getting harder. Our paychecks are getting smaller. I hear the price for a gallon of milk will soon hit $7 or more. I think it’s time Rover begins doing his part to help support this family. And now that I know other cats are holding down jobs, I am going to demand that Rover get off his fluffy duff, find a job and begin to earn his keep.

What with his intelligence, agility and speed, and with a good camera, I’m thinking Rover could work as paparazzi. If he could get a clear picture of baby Blue Ivy Carter or a clear shot of Queen Elizabeth sunbathing, our family would be rich.

I suspect my Rover would also make a good politician. He’s demanding, is concerned with his own agendas and can claw his way through a good catfight. And like most politicians, he is quick to smell a rat and is always ready to pounce on it. Rover would have sniffed out where Hillary Clinton has really been these last few days.

Or perhaps my Rover could be a runway model. After all, he is extremely handsome and photogenic. He is long and lean and moves like a jungle… well… cat. He has beautiful coloring and lovely eyes. I can just see him striding down the catwalk while the cameras flash. And when he smiles…



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July 23, 2014
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