However Mad I Get at Animals, Cuteness Always Wins


Daphne and I call it the Observation Deck. It’s really a pillow. Well, it’s a stack of pillows, behind Daphne’s head, in our bed. Thomas recently started sleeping there. And we thought it was adorable, until we didn’t. Let me rephrase that. It was never not adorable to Daphne. She still finds it adorable. I’m the one who stopped finding it adorable. Why? Because Thomas woke me up by snoring.

Yes, you read that right. My cat woke me up by snoring. It wasn’t just a freak thing that happened once. It has happened three times since the Observation Deck was declared open to cats.

I know, I know. When most cats snore, it’s nearly inaudible. And it’s adorable. Of course you’d say that, because it’s not keeping you awake. It has kept me awake. Nonetheless, I haven’t closed the Observation Deck to cats, even though I could. I’m big, compared with a cat. I could move the freakin’ Observation Deck and fix the problem if I wanted to.

But I haven’t. And I won’t. In fact, I don’t move Thomas during the night when he snores, even though I’ve had a bit of trouble sleeping lately, and Thomas has exacerbated that trouble. I nudge him a little bit and hope he’ll stop. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. Regardless, during the day (take today for example, because it happened again last night) the whole thing seems absurd, kind of funny, and well, just so cute.

My point? Cuteness always wins.

What propelled this concept to Cat Dandy status was a victory scored by cuteness on a recent night. It makes the snoring incident on the Observation Deck seem insignificant. It involved a raccoon.

Some backstory: Raccoons love our backyard. They have massive parties there. Daphne and I commonly wake up to find cushions pulled off the outdoor furniture, the birdbath upended, holes dug in the grass, and dirty footprints and dislodged bricks at the point where they climb the fence. It’s no overstatement to say that we don’t like raccoons one bit.

More backstory: One night while returning home a couple of years ago to a previous residence, I encountered three raccoons on the next-door neighbor’s front porch. I knew they were a problem. I had heard them fighting in the neighbor’s backyard a few nights prior, and it was as hellish a noise as I’ve ever heard — like a cat fight, except with bears.

“I’m human,” I thought. “Many animals fear humans. My presence will scare the raccoons away, at least for the moment.”

So I walked toward them and the neighbor’s porch.

They all stopped what they were doing. Two stood up on their back legs. Their looks seemed to say, “Yes? Can we help you with something? Do you want to come closer? We’re ready for you.”

It was so clear they were braced for physical engagement that I changed direction before my conscious mind knew what I was doing. I didn’t exactly run (okay, I ran). I wasn’t about to mess with them.

So on a recent night, when our house was under raccoon attack, that’s what I pictured — a pack of ruffians, ready for battle with humans, monster trucks, vampires, whatever. From the sound of it, that’s just what was out there. Daphne and I heard repeated heavy thumping on the roof. We saw the motion-sensor porch light come on. We heard a great clatter on the front porch. At that point we knew that we should do something — even if it was a cowardly and brief act — just to let them know we were there, that they were messing with something that might do, well, something. We’d be close enough to the front door to step out, make a scary noise, then quickly make a frightened retreat. We opened the door expecting to see the Great Raccoon Grizzly Army but instead got ÔǪ cuteness.

It was a little raccoon — maybe eight or nine pounds. He was walking away but stopped and turned back. He stood up, tilted his cute little head, put his front paws in front of him, and he purred. Well, it wasn’t exactly a purr, more of a chirp, but it sounded like a question, or maybe a plea, like, “Hi! I’m adorable. Who are you? Is it okay if I’m here?” A few seconds later he got back on all fours, turned around, squeaked as if to say, “So sorry! I’ll be on my way!” and he was on his way.

Daphne and I looked at each other in disbelief.

“Ohh!” I said.

“Ohh!” she said.

“Ohh!” we said in unison.

Raccoons are ruffians! They are destructive! We know people whose houses have suffered hundreds of dollars of damage because of them! We know it’s wrong to love them! We know it’s wrong to think of them as cute! But we couldn’t argue with that adorable little face!

“Damn you, Mother Nature!” Daphne said. “Cute always wins!”

File under: Just Because

Here’s a photo of how dandy the Cat Dandy can be even when he’s going to a sporting event without a cat. This is me on a BART train headed for the Oakland A’s first playoff game against the Detroit Tigers on Friday afternoon. (Oakland lost, but it was a nail-biter to the end, and it was great to be there.)

Here’s the dandy by the numbers.

  1. I tried on multiple outfits before deciding on what to wear.
  2. I “built” the jacket in this photo myself from a marked-down Dickies jacket and three Oakland A’s patches I bought on eBay.
  3. The cap I’m wearing is a rare replica of the one worn by the Athletics in 1968, the first year the team was in Oakland.
  4. The ensemble, including hat and patches, represents the A’s from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, while the kelly green hat is an exact color match for the shorts I wore.

Disclaimer: I was rooting against Detroit, whose mascot (granted) is a cat (the tiger), but Thomas said it was okay. He likes the A’s because their onetime manager, Tony La Russa, started the Animal Rescue Foundation after feral cats were found in the Oakland Coliseum.

Another disclaimer: Some have said my expression here looks grumpy. First, I was freakin’ NERVOUS! Also, it was my attempt to distinguish myself from the (often predictable) “HEY! WE’RE HAVING SO MUCH FUN!” kind of fan pose. Also, I tend to look like a stupid hillbilly when I force a smile, especially if I’m nervous. “Distinguished” beats “dork” in my book.

Speaking of cute, does cute always win when it comes to your cat? What about raccoons? Does your cat snore? How do you get a good night’s sleep with a cat on your head? How do you decide what to wear to a baseball game?

Cat Dandy has rules, but he bends them for cuteness:

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is associate editor at Catster and Dogster.

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