Kitty Needs

Last night I woke up to find my cat Zorro hogging the bed next to me...and not just lying on the bed, he was under the covers! As I went to move him so that I could roll over, I whispered, "Sorry, Zorro, but you have to move." "But I'm comfortable!" replied a sleepy voice. It startled me so much that I almost fell off the bed!

"Zorro?!" I asked, sure my parents had dropped me one too many times as a child.

Zorro planted himself in his spot on my bed and declared, "You always seem so determined to prevent me from living my life to its fullest."

"Oh, really?" I replied.

"Yes, really," continued Zorro. "Whenever I find a sunny place to nap, you always move me."

"Well, I wouldn't have to if that sunny place wasn't on top of the jeans that I need to wear."

Zorro continued to talk. "Whenever I find a mouse to play with, you always take it away from me before I'm done with it."

"And I have good reason to do so! If I want to have presents left in my shoes, I'll let you know, but until then I'm not going to allow you to play with them in the house!"

"And whenever I see something fun to play with in the dark, you scream."

"That's because the 'something' is my foot!" I retorted.

"How was I supposed to know that?" defended Zorro. "And don't even get me started on you not constantly rubbing my tummy!"

Slightly frustrated yet still amused, I replied, "You're not the boss around here!"

"Now, wait a second. Let's think about this for a minute," he suggested. "You pick up my poop, you feed me when I'm hungry, you take care of me when I'm sick, and shower me with attention. Explain to me again, please, how I'm not in charge of you."

"Oh..." What else could I say? He had an excellent point. I mean, I do cater to every one of his kitty needs, and if I don't, I always feel guilty. Like, if I go on vacation, I always feel a twinge of guilt upon returning because he looks at me as though I've abandoned him.

In an attempt to create peace, I told Zorro, "I agree to let you sleep on my bed as long as you don't sleep on my face anymore or hog the bed."

"Agreed," said Zorro. "Can I have my catnip back now? I promise not to act spazzy and race around the house in the ungodly hours of the morning like I did last night."

"Sorry, I value my sleep too much to allow that to happen again! But I will guarantee a daily pat on the head and food."

"Fair enough. Good night." -- Emma Seemann, Carlsbad H.S.

I'm the only person who has heard the sweet voice of a female ladybug. The creature landed on my index finger this afternoon and I adored her for her petite size and lovely look. As I stared, I heard her sing a tune that's never reached my ears before. I thought to myself, Hmmm...she must be able to talk if she can sing such a song. I asked her, "How are you so small and still alive in this dangerous world?" The singing stopped and she flew to my shoulder, next to my ear. "For many years my kind flew about in a timid way, afraid of the viciousness this world has to offer. We feared everything -- from fierce snakes to a tiny flea, and large elephants to the stinging bee."

"I understand how these things must be scary to you and your kind, but, again, how do you flee from these things? This I still do not see."

"Well, eventually it came to pass that fear was the only thing to blame. The harmful creatures of the world sense insecurity in anything that lives. This gives them the motivation to harm us. However, if we stand strong and live with dignity, this intimidates even the largest of animals and keeps them away from us. Our newly attained senses of courage and pride override those feelings of hunger and fierceness normally directed toward our kind."

I pondered that this tiny creature stays alive by something no one can see; it survives because of its pride, strength, and dignity. Then, another thought planted itself in my mind... "Do you know how much joy you provide the smallest of children and the oldest of men when you land on them and allow them to gaze upon your beauty?"

"Why, yes," she respon-ded, "indeed I do. Their smiles and laughs are what keeps our hearts beating, our wings pulsing. Without the true beauty of the world -- the joy of others -- our beauty would never be able to shine through. And I want to give you a message to inform mankind: it is simply 'Thank you.' Without you, my kind would never have attained our positive state of mind." And with that, she beat her wings as gracefully as ever and flew off into the distance, leaving the world with more light and happiness than the human eye could ever see. -- Lexie Sebring, Carlsbad H.S.

I think every "animal person" has at one time or another wished they could find out what their pet was thinking. I often find myself questioning my dog's strange behavior and wish that we could somehow communicate. Therefore, if I had the option to talk to any animal on earth I wouldn't look past my own home; I would want to talk to my golden retriever, Sandy. One question I would immediately ask would be, "Why do you find it necessary to steal every sock and shoe from my room and put them where I'd never think to look?"

Sandy's response would probably be simple. Something along the lines of, "I get bored at night when everyone's asleep. I sleep all day and have nothing to do at night, so I keep myself busy and hope that in the morning this will help get me more attention."

To understand the next question I would ask, you have to understand Sandy's personality. She is scared to death of other dogs. I will never forget the time she -- all 70 pounds of her -- was intimidated by a 20-pound Yorkshire terrier. So, I would ask Sandy, "Why are you so scared of other dogs, even little dogs?"

Her response would probably be, "Ever since I was a puppy, my personality was very timid. I often got pushed around and soon grew to let other dogs have their way. I don't like to cause trouble."

I would try to convince Sandy to "Stand up for yourself. Don't let other dogs push you around. You need to gain respect and confidence."

One part of being able to communicate with Sandy would be the hassle at meal times. With the way she begs at the table already, I can't imagine how annoying she would be if she could talk to us. She'd say, "I don't find it fair that everyone else gets spaghetti while I get stuck with this hard, dried-out dog food. At least give me the wet dog food!"

While I'd love to know what's going on in Sandy's mind, it's nice to have someone mellow and quiet in the house that I can turn to when I'm sick of my sisters complaining. -- Bryanna Schwartz, Westview H.S.

I can talk to insects. In fact, I was about to talk to an ant...no, not the kind that squeezes your cheeks every Thanksgiving; I'm talking about those six-legged creepy crawlers with the antennae and itsy-bitsy fur. "So, uh, Mr. Ant, describe to me an average day in your six shoes."

"It's terrible. I spend 99 percent of the time marching. Marching where? Nowhere. All we do is march. Us freaking ants, we're always marching. No one ever asked me if I wanted to march, though. No one ever asked me if I'd prefer parading or even treading. My entire existence has turned into one giant game of follow the leader."

"Well, yes, uh, I'm very sorry about that. But, living in a hill, that must be nice, right?"

"Are you kidding me? I've got to deal with stupid kids sticking a hose down my hole. And then, if we try to run, they attack us with a giant magnifying glass! Now, where I want to live is on one of those farms, those ant farms. I'm not exactly sure what I'd be growing or even if I'd raise animals, but a quiet life in a glass case, that's definitely for me."

"Well, I'm sure life can't be all that bad...what about picnics? Ever invade one of those?"

"I've never been to a picnic. I've never seen a picnic in a photograph. I've never even heard of someone talk about a picture of a picnic they once saw. All a big lie. A giant hoax. Something the queen made up to keep us working hard. The most adventurous place I've ever been was inside of someone's pants. And, believe me, having ants in your pants is as bad for the ant as it is for the human."

"Well, it certainly sounds like you've got a pretty hard life."

"Hard? HARD?!?! For God sakes, ever heard of an anteater? There's an animal out there whose sole purpose is to eat me! Between Raid and the constant firecrackers in my hill, life sucks. Life, for me, is for the birds." -- Andres Perez, Valhalla H.S.

From the day we brought her home, Abby and I hadn't had a good relationship. Almost the instant she was out of her cage, she walked over and bit me. One day, Abby stared up at me, her nose wiggling wildly, her whiskers twitching. Her little bunny eyes seemed more intelligent than they normally did. Because she was looking rather philosophical, I decided to ask her about it, as pet owners and crazy people tend to do. "What made you hate me, you silly bunny? What did I ever do to you? We get you home from the pound and -- chomp -- no sooner do you get out of your cage, you are clamped onto my ear. Why?"

She snuffled around her hay box, then suddenly she looked up to me with her brown eyes and said, "It's because I like you."

Perhaps all those years of my mother baby-talking the stupid creature had paid off. Was I insane, or had the rabbit just talked to me? Deciding that it was probably the former, I proceeded, "You like me?"

"Well, yes," she said.

I was having a conversation with an eight-pound creature whose brain was no larger than a walnut. I sure wasn't crazy. This led me to wonder if she could have talked this whole time, so I asked her.

"Oh, no," she said. "Nothing like that. You never let me get a word in edge-wise -- all that 'ooooh, fuzzy little bunny' stuff."

"Hmmm...I never really thought of it that way," I said. "Well, I must ask, how do you like carrots?"

"Don't even get me started, buddy. If I had a dollar for every carrot I've eaten... Well, let's just say I wouldn't eat carrots anymore."

"Well, I guess I've always just pestered you. I really had no idea that you were a smart critter." As I said this, I recalled how I had thought she had no brain at all. "Huh, well now that I'm talking to a rabbit, I have nothing to say... Eh, what's up doc?"

"Is that the best you can do?" -- Grant Barba, La Jolla H.S.

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