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It's Just Stuff
by Jackie Fuchs

I’ve just returned from the dry cleaners, where I’ve deposited yet another slip cover that my cats have used for projectile vomiting target practice. As I left the house, I noticed that the sisal rug in the dining room, which my cats often confuse for an 8’ x 10’ scratching post, was spotted with more than its fair share of similar stains, and that the side of the chair closest to the wall seemed a bit, well… tattered.

I’ve become an expert at getting stains and odors out of all manner of materials. Cold water is best for urine stains, warmer water with a little mild dishwashing soap good for loosening up dried-on bits of wet cat food. Nature’s Miracle and similar products work great on hard surfaces, such as tile floors. Mild dish detergent is also best for rugs and colorfast upholstery. The Furminator, possibly the world’s best animal brush, excels at getting dead hair off of the cat, but is not so good on a leather ottoman, as I discovered when Cleo moved mid-stroke and I brushed the furniture instead of the cat. Oops. That side now faces away from the door.

But whenever I’m frustrated by the fact that my once beautiful, expensive and perfectly arranged stuff now looks more like the “after” photo from some natural disaster, I remind myself that it is, after all, just stuff. Stuff that will never curl up on my lap and purr after I’ve had a hard day at work and the boss has yelled at me for inadvertently copying the wrong person on an e-mail. Stuff that will never gaze deeply into my eyes and make a sweet little ack-ack sound of love. My stuff won’t comfort me when I’m sick, lick my nose when I’m sweaty, or crawl under the covers and keep me warm on a cold morning unless, of course, we’re talking about an electric blanket, which, in fairness, is warmer than a cat and almost as soft. But still, it lacks that purring thing, for which I am an absolute sucker.

Those who adore the look of a designer perfect bedroom shouldn’t have pets. In particular they are not suited for cats, who have not mastered the art of “sit – stay” nearly as well as dogs, although they are much better at times at “lie down -- play dead,” especially when they’re already doing it. For those of us, however, who adore cats, it’s good on occasion for us to remind ourselves that scratches and stains are nothing more than reminders of the presence of furry, little angels who give so much to us while asking of us so little in return. So they barf at inconvenient times and never do their own dishes -- so what? It's at worst a mild inconvenience, and at best an excuse to update and redecorate. I like my stuff, but I love my cats. And in five years time, when my stuff has become unfashionable, my cats will still be in vogue.

Stuff may come and stuff may go, but love and purrs are timeless.

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