Sound Familiar?
Things you should know about the Witches' best friend...

Witches and cats have traditionally enjoyed [sic] a long association.  Sure, we also have had other familiars such as toads and ravens, but frankly these creatures rank pretty low on my list; Toads tend to sit like lumps, only showing any real interest in your world when you pick them up, whereupon they usually urinate on your hand.  Ravens are even filthier creatures, dropping bits of food, raven poop  or worse all over the place, then painstakingly learning every word you mutter under your breath while cleaning it up to repeat later when your mother stops by for a visit.  Besides, neither is worth a hoot for warming your lap on a chilly winter evening.  Some think a dog would make a good familiar.  Dogs would make good familiars except for two things: 1. They're just too silly, getting all excited and making a big to-do every time you walk into the room, and 2. They can't hang on to a broomstick worth beans.

For these and other reasons we Witches like cats.  They're soft, furry and warm.  Most of them are useful for keeping vermin at bay, and if you really get to know them, they can become, if not your best friend, at least your familiar.  Before jumping up and running out to the pet store, or for the less financially secure, the closest alley, there's a few things you should know.

First, cats take themselves very seriously.  Far too seriously, in my opinion, for a creature that sleeps all the time, but nevertheless they do it.  Part of the problem is that 5000 years ago cats were worshipped as gods.  They have a hard time letting go of this idea.

Second, cats have a different set of priorities from humans.  They think about different things.  The top ten things cats think about are:

10) I could have sworn I heard a can opener.
 9) Is there something I'm not getting when humans make noise with their mouths?
 8) Why doesn't the government do something about dogs?
7) I wonder if Morris really liked 9-lives, or did he have ULTERIOR motives?
6) Hmmmm.... If dogs serve humans, and humans serve cats, why can't we ever get those STUPID dogs to do anything for us?
5) This looks like a good spot for a nap.
4) Hey - no kidding, I'm sure that's the can opener.
3) Would humans have built a vast and complex civilization of their own if we cats hadn't given them a reason to invent sofas and can openers in the first place.
2) If there's a God, how can He allow neutering?
#1 Thing that cats think is: If that really was the can opener, I'll play finicky just to let THEM
know who's boss !!

Another problem many people have being able to understand their cat is, well, being able to understand their cat.  This is because although cats do speak, they don't form their words the same way we do.  This is partly because cats don't have lips, and so have problems with most consonant sounds with the exceptions of "m", "r"and "s".  To help the prospective cat companion (I hesitate to use the word "owner".) here's a fairly comprehensive Cat-to-English dictionary:

Miaow  -  Feed me.
meeow  -  Pet me.
mrooww  -  I love you.
miioo-oo-oo  -  I am in love and must meet my betrothed outside beneath the hedge.  Don't wait up.
mrow  -  I feel like making noise.
rrrow-mawww  -  Please, the time is come to tidy the cat box.
rrrow-miawww  -  I have remedied the cat box untidiness by shoveling the contents as far out of the box as was practical.
miaowmiaow  -  Play with me.
miaowmioaw  -  Have you noticed the shortage of available cat toys in this room?
mioawmioaw  -  Since I can find nothing better to play with, I shall see what happens when I sharpen my claws on this handy piece of furniture.
raowwwww  -  I think I shall now spend time licking the most private parts of my anatomy.
mrowwwww  -  (only heard in males)  I am now recalling, with sorrow, that some of my private parts did not return with me from that visit to the vet.
roww-maww-roww  -  I am so glad to see that you have returned home with both arms full of groceries.  I will now rub myself against your legs and attempt to trip you as you walk towards the kitchen.
mmeww  -  I believe I have heard a burglar.  If you would like to go and beat him senseless, I shall be happy to keep your spot in the bed warm.
gakk-ak-ak  -  My digestive passages seem to have formed a hairball. Wherever could this have come from?  I shall leave it here upon the carpeting.
mow  -  Snuggling is a good idea.
moww  -  Shedding is pretty good, too.
mowww!  -  I was enjoying snuggling and shedding in the warm clean laundry until you removed me so unkindly.
miaow! miaow!  -  I have discovered that, although one may be able to wedge his body through the gap behind the stove and into that little drawer filled with pots and pans, the reverse path is slightly more difficult to navigate.
mraakk!  -  Oh, small bird!  Please come over here.
ssssroww!  -  I believe that I have found a woodchuck.  I shall now act terribly brave.
mmmmmmm  -  If I sit in the sunshine for another week or so, I think I shall be satisfied.

Despite their faults, cats can become very close companions and will take great pains to participate in whatever activity you show an interest.  While the cat enjoys this, sometimes in their enthusiasm they can be less than helpful.  The real secret to success in such endeavors is having a plan and sticking to it.  While space here does not permit covering all contingencies, here's a sample plan to give you the idea:

Wrapping Presents (With a Cat)
1. Clear large space on table for wrapping present.
2. Go to wardrobe and collect bag in which present is contained, and close door.
3. Open door and remove cat from wardrobe.
4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.
5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.
6. Go to drawer and collect transparent sticky tape, ribbons, scissors, labels, etc.
7. Lay out present and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be formed.
8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit, and collect string.
9. Remove present from bag.
10. Remove cat from bag.
11. Open box to check present, remove cat from box, replace present.
12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.
13. Cut the paper to  size, trying to keep the cutting line straight.
14. Throw away first sheet because cat tried to chase the scissors and tore paper.
15. Cut second sheet of paper to size by putting cat in the bag the present came out of.
16. Place present on cut-to-size paper.
17. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present, wonder why edges now don't reach, and find cat between present and paper. Remove cat and retry.
18. Place object on paper, to hold in place, while cutting transparent sticky tape.
19. Spend next 20 minutes carefully trying to remove transparent sticky tape from cat with pair of nail scissors.
20. Seal paper down with transparent sticky tape, making corners as neat as possible.
21. Look for roll of ribbon; chase cat down hall and retrieve ribbon.
22. Try to wrap present with ribbon in a two-directional turn.
23. Re-roll up ribbon and remove paper that is now torn, due to cat's enthusiasm in chasing ribbon end.
24. Repeat steps 12-22 until down to last sheet of paper.
25. Decide to skip steps 12-16 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that you know is right size for sheet of paper.
26. Put present in box, and tie down with string.
27. Remove string, open box and remove cat.
28. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for lockable room.
29. Once inside room, lock door and start to re-lay out packing materials.
30. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close door and re-lock.
31. Lay out last sheet of paper. (Admittedly this is difficult in the small area of the bathroom, but try your best!)
32. Seal box, wrap with paper and start repairs by very carefully sealing down tears with transparent sticky tape. Now tie up with ribbon and decorate with bows to hide worst affected areas.
33. Label, then sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulating yourself on making good of a bad job.
34. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make drink and feed cat.
35. Spend next 15 minutes looking for cat, before coming to obvious conclusion.
36. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.
37. Retrieve all discarded sheets of wrapping paper, feed cat and retire to lockable room for last attempt, making certain you are alone and the door is locked.
38. At time of handing over present, smile sweetly at receiver's face, as they try and hide their contempt at being handed such a badly wrapped present.
39. Swear to yourself that next year, you will get the store to wrap the darn thing for you.

Besides being helpful, cats are creative and artistic.  This is because they spend most of their time deep in thought, sometimes concentrating so hard on a subject that they have no cranial resources free for such motor activities such as walking, standing or keeping their eyes open.  This gives them the appearance of spending most of the day napping, but rest assured, this is not really the case.  One poetic cat, possibly one of the Oriental breeds, composed hiaku during one of these brainstorming sessions.  This is the result:

No-man's land: carpet alive,
Flea season again

I need a new toy.
tail of black dog keeps good time.
pounce! good dog! good dog!

The rule for today
Touch my tail, I shred your hand
New rule tomorrow

In deep sleep hear sound
cat vomit hairball somewhere
will find in morning

Cat, fearless hunter
leaves 'presents' for me near door
next time I'll wear shoes

Grace personified,
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.

Night. Now come night-mice.
I chase them 'round on loud feet.
You can't see them too?

Blur of motion, then --
silence, me, a paper bag.
What is so funny?

You never feed me.
Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.
That will sure show you.

The mighty hunter
Returns with gifts of plump birds --
Your foot just squashed one

You must scratch me there!
Yes, above my tail! Behold,
elevator butt.

You're always typing.
Well, let's see you ignore my
sitting on your hands.

My small cardboard box.
You cannot see me if I
can just hide my head.

Terrible battle.
I fought for hours. Come and see!
What's a 'term paper'?

Kitty likes plastic
Confuses for litter box
Don't leave tarp around

Small brave carnivores
Kill pine cones and mosquitoes
Fear vacuum cleaner

Want to trim my claws?
Don't even think about it!
My yelps will wake dead.

I want to be close
To you. Can I fit my head
inside your armpit?

Wanna go outside.
Oh, shit! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Oh no! Big One
has been trapped by newspaper!
Cat to the rescue!

Humans are so strange.
Mine lies still in bed, then screams!
My claws aren't that sharp ...

Cats meow out of angst
"Thumbs! If only we had thumbs!
We could break so much!"

Litter box not here
You must have moved it again
I'll crap in the sink.

The Big Ones snore now
Every room is dark and cold
Time for "Cup Hockey"

We're almost equals
I purr to show I love you
Want to smell my butt?

Okay, so maybe cats aren't exactly all sweetness and light.  But for whatever reasons we humans tend to love the little beasties, don't we?  Nobody seems to know exactly why.  Regardless of the fact that cats lie, usually in regard to the quantity of food in their dish, they shed hair all over the place, and they will sharpen their claws on anything and everything in the house, with the exception of those commercially available scratching posts that every cat owner buys in desperation at one time or another, we still like them.  Some people say cats are great because "they're such clean animals".  Crap.  Cats aren't really clean, they're just rinsed with cat spit.  Fortunately this is sufficient for the majority of cats.  Occasionally, however, you will find that it is necessary to give your familiar a real bath.  There are two ways to do this.

Cat Bath Method "A"

1. Thoroughly clean the toilet.
2. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and have both lids lifted.
3. Obtain the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
4. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids (you may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape).  CAUTION: Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for any vulnerable surface they can find.
5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power wash and rinse" which I have found to be quite effective.
6. Have someone open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.
7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
8. The now-clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself.
(This assumes the cat will ever want to see your face again after the first wash, let alone go or be taken anywhere near the bathroom.)

Some people think this method is cruel, and prefer the more personal approach.  This is called "masochism".

Cat Bath Method "B"
First...dress for the occasion. A 4-ply rubber wet suit is suggested, along with a helmet, face mask and welders gloves.
A Bathtub with a glass enclosure is preferred to the one with a shower curtain. A frenzied cat can shred one of these in about 3.5 seconds.
Have the Kitty Bubbles and towel in the enclosed bathtub area before hand. No...blow drying the cat after the bath is not suggested.
Draw the water, making it a little warmer than needed as you still need to find the cat. Position everything strategically in the shower, so you can reach it even if you are face down or prone in the tub.
Find your cat. Use the element of surprise. Pick the cat up, nonchalantly as if you were simply carrying him/her to the supper dish. No need to worry about the cat noticing your strange attire...the cat barely notices you anyway.
Once you and the cat are inside the bathroom...speed is essential. In one single liquid motion...shut the door to the bathroom, step into the shower, close the sliding doors, and drop the cat into the water. While the cat is still in a state of shock, locate the Kitty Bubbles and squirt whatever part of him is above the water line. You have just begun the wildest 45 seconds of your life. Remember that cats have no handles and add the fact that he now has soapy fur. His state of shock has worn off and he's madder than a wet hornet.
At best, you can, wearing welder's gloves, try to field his body as he catapults through the air toward the ceiling. If possible, give another squirt of Kitty Bubbles with his body now fully exposed.
During the 5 seconds you are able to hold onto him, rub vigorously. No need to worry about rinsing. As he slides down the glass enclosure into the tub, he will fall back into the water, rinsing himself in the process.
Only attempt the lather and rinse process about 3 times. The cat will realize the lack of traction on the glass by then and will use the next attempt on the first available part of you.
Next, the cat must be dried. No...this is NOT the easiest part. By this stage, you are worn out and the cat has just become semi-permanently affixed to your right leg. We suggest here that you drain the tub and in full view of your cat...reach for the bottle of Kitty Bubbles.
If you have done step 10 correctly, the cat will be off your leg and hanging precariously from your helmet. Although this view of the cat is most disgusting, he will be in a much better position for wrapping the towel around him.
Be sure cat is firmly wrapped in towel before opening tub enclosure. Open bathroom door... put towel wrapped cat on floor and step back quickly. Into tub, if possible, and do not open enclosure until all you can see is the shredded towel.
In about 2 will be safe to exit the bathroom. Your cat will be sitting out there somewhere looking like a small hedgehog while plotting revenge.

Hmm.  Toads and ravens are starting to look a little better.

[Credits:  Much of the text was copied directly from cat jokes forwarded to me in various e-mails over the years and the original authors are unknown.  For this reason I consider these items to be in the public domain.  However, I know somebody had to write this stuff, so if you see your cat joke here, please let me know and I'll credit your work properly. - Oak]

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