<a href="mailto:email@example.com">By BOB GRADY</a>
When my friend Keith Kelsey died several years ago, I decided that, if I ever got a dog, I'd name it Kelsey. Of course, my chances of ever getting a dog were limited by the fact that all of the creatures inhabiting my house are either cats or cat lovers, so the name of my dog wasn't actually much of a debate.
To compound the odds, I recently learned I'm my own worst enemy. My wife had been hinting around that we needed a new cat. So I went out and bought her one, of all things, and in the process further eroded my voting bloc.
One of my daughters had found this baby cat, still in a cradle in Vermont, and first thing I knew, here I was spiriting it into the house so I could pull the surprise of a lifetime. It was a brand-new, shiny, white Siamese, which brings the cat population in our house up shoulder to shoulder with the humans. The dog lobby is thus down to 1-5.
Possibly to placate me for another bitter defeat on the dog front, my wife allowed me to transplant the name of my imaginary dog onto her new cat. Thus, Kelsey was a brand-new, shiny, white Siamese cat instead of a slobbery mutt.
Like any responsible pet owner, my wife did her duty by relieving the kitten of its womanly prerogatives as soon as nature would allow.
The other two cats, who are also Siamese but darker and slightly bigger, were not crazy about their new sorority member from the beginning and in the intervening six months have not softened their position. Oh, they chase each other around the house, all right, but I get the feeling Kelsey's the only one doing it for fun.
When she returned from the veterinarian's after the surgery, they turned absolutely hostile. Something about Kelsey seemed to remind them of their own unfavorable recollections of the vet's office. Possibly thinking that whatever she had was contagious, they assertively conveyed to her that they were sharing a roof only under duress. If they had anything to say about it, she'd be bunking in with the doc permanently.
For her part, Kelsey was not acting herself, either. She had an incision across a freshly denuded section of her torso, which she had mistakenly inferred would only go away under constant licking. According to the doc, constant licking was the worst thing for it. So much for animal instinct.
So, to separate the tongue from the wound and keep it that way, the doc installed a big plastic cone around her neck that kept her from licking herself. She walks around looking like a four-legged satellite dish. The other cats are more upset than ever. Maybe they're afraid they'll show up on TV.
Meanwhile, Kelsey isn't a bit happy with her new headgear. For one thing, even though it's very light plastic, it's too heavy for her. She waddles around with her head bowed, the bottom of the cone pushing along the floor.
Her peripheral vision must be inferior, as she keeps bumping into things she tries to pass by. So, whenever she's in the room, you keep hearing, click ... click ... click, as the cone hits chairs, walls and table legs.
Walking around with this thing has done nothing positive for her confidence. In fact, she seems downright humiliated, especially in view of her already-stunted lack of esteem from the other cats.
Eating and drinking pose new problems for which her little brain is no match. She's too short to begin with, so she can barely get the bottom of the cone over the lip of the dish. (Cats already have the disadvantage of having to eat with their mouths below their stomachs, so the food has to travel up. Try that sometime and see how enjoyable that souffle is.)
When she drinks, water always winds up accumulating in her cone, giving rise to fears she'll drown in her own headgear.
The only thing she can think of to do to combat this clumsy predicament is to lick. As far as she knows, licking solves everything. So she licks the cone, as it's the only thing within reach of her tongue. So far, it hasn't done any good, but we've learned she's the loudest licker we've ever had in the stable.
Remember Dan Aykroyd as Beldar the Conehead on "Saturday Night Live?" It was one of the funniest bits in television history. Being a Conehead was a stroke of genius for Aykroyd. For Kelsey, so far it hasn't worked out so well.