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National Editorials & Columns

Life: It Happens

My cats have the run of the house when I am at work. I tend to think it serves as a criminal deterrent to any potential burglars in the general vicinity. After all, I have trained the four of them to do my bidding, and they are well-trained in mob tactics. Some people might think that’s silly, but all I know is my house has yet to be burglarized.

When I let my cats out of the cat room each morning my cat Thumper is always the most excited to greet me. Thumper is under the delusion that he is a spirited and feisty Jack Russell terrier, but instead he is merely a Maine coon, which means he has long hair.

So excited — too excited, actually — to see me, Thumper will drop what he is doing to run out and say hello to me. He could be batting a fly in an attempt to eat it or hanging from the other side of the door like a monkey, but when I open the door he comes sailing my way.

And that means even if Thumper is right in the middle of his kitty business in the litter box.

Because of his long hair, Thumper from time to time has been known to catch a nasty case of a disease that I like to call chocolate bottom. Now anybody who has ever had a child or a pet dog, cat or alligator knows that messes happen. When you have a long-haired cat it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable transpires.

When it comes to Thumper, there are no small messes.

By the time I realized that Thumper had another case of chocolate bottom it was already too late. He had been out for 20 minutes. In that time frame he roosted in all of his favorite household roosts.

On the couch. On the coffee table. On the counter near the coffee machine. On the July issue of Guitar World. On the banjo case. The quilt, both rugs, ironically the top of the toilet, and practically every square yard in the living room.

Basically, Thumper sullied every single place in the downstairs aside from the litter box.

My first order of business was quarantining Thumper. Then, running late to work as per usual, I started the task of playing CSI, or Cat Scene Investigator (though the “S” could also stand for something else all together). I retraced the trail clutching a roll of paper towels in one hand and a low-budget spraying agent in the other.

By the time I was done there was no chance of getting to work on time, and I couldn’t just leave Thumper in the house alone all day with a severe case of chocolate bottom without cleaning the poor guy up first.

This is the part where I ask you if you have ever had your hand caught in an electric meat cuber before. Well I have, and it’s not dissimilar from attempting to give a cat a bath. For you see, there is never a case of giving a cat a bath, at least in any proper sense.

A cat owner is always attempting to give a cat a bath.

Thumper normally takes to water like the Wicked Witch of the West.

I knew going in that I was about to experience the climax of my pain threshold.

As the first long hair on his frightened (and soiled) body breached the surface of the bathwater that awaited him, four sets of claws sank deeply into my forearms like barbed wire. Thumper’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, exposing the whites of his eyes like a shark. He released a death howl, at which point it occurred to me to get this dirty and hairy thing off of me.

Thumper dropped like a stone into the bathwater below. Then he soared up the plastic shower curtain with all of the comical stylings of a Benny Hill skit.

By the end of it all, I eventually got Thumper decent, but suffice it to say I was nothing of the sort.

One human shower and new pair of pants later and I finally managed to leave for work.

But that’s life, right?

And sometimes it happens.

To contact Will E. Sanders email him at To learn more about Will E. Sanders, to read past columns or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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