Copy Cat

The following excerpt is from Leopardo da Gotcha, pages 8 and 9.

Leopardo has his own place at the dinner table.

Leopardo's determination to be on an equal basis with everyone else in the household is illustrated by how he established a place for himself at the table. By the time he was six months old he had already laid claim to a particular chair. For Christmas I confirmed the situation by giving him a spotted ocelot pillow to boost him up to a more comfortable height.

Whenever anyone sat down at the table, Leopardo would jump into what he considered his chair and place both front paws on the table. There was no way I could refuse to put a few morsels into a dish for him. He still had "floor food" on a cat tray on the kitchen floor, but now he expected to be served "table food" at the table.

Leopardo's favorite table food was a tight roll of three pieces of oven-roasted chicken lunchmeat sliced in pieces thin as a dime, and served in a crepe dish. He liked to eat this for breakfast and again for dinner, in addition to at least two cans and sometimes three of "floor food." It was not until the supermarket ran out of oven-roasted chicken breast, and I attempted to substitute honey-smoked chicken, that we discovered that Leopardo could talk.

During Leopardo's kittenhood, whenever he poked his head into something he shouldn't, I rebuked him with a loud, firm "Nooooo!" He caught on quickly exactly what "Nooooo!" meant, and he would usually respond by stopping what he was doing. When I set down the crepe dish containing honey-smoked chicken rather than the expected oven-roasted chicken, Leopardo stared at it for about ten seconds and tentatively sniffed it. I was standing behind his chair apprehensively observing his behavior. Then to my amazement, and the immense amusement of my mother, who was sitting across from Leopardo at the table, Leopardo looked over his shoulder at me and then uttered a loud, unmistakable "Nooooo!" With that he jumped down from his chair and stalked out of the dining room in a manner that suggested disgust and disappointment, refusing altogether to touch a concoction so absurd as honey-smoked chicken breast.

Copyright 2002 by Robert J. R. Rockwood. All rights reserved.