China and I have engrossing conversations. He is this long haired black and white exotically marked cat. We talk to one another. I “meow” and “meow”. And sometimes he replies. Other times he snuggles against me. I have no idea what I am saying in cat language but he gets the message: I love him and want to be near him. He is the most vocal of all our cats. We have seven. I have different relationships with all of them. Cheyenne, also long haired like China and his brother is one of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen. He often goes in the opposite direction when I approach him. He just does not like me. Both China and Cheyenne have the same mother Jasmine, a diminutive female who seems to get along with everyone including her four sons from two litters. Sometimes they all can be found lying near each other on my bed. I never thought I would become a cat lover but I have. They are very different than dogs. And I have four dogs. Our menagerie now numbers eleven. No fish yet.

My seven cats and four dogs enrich my life.  I have to admit only one cat (Cool Hand Luke), a completely black scrawny cat, seeks me out and snuggles up to me occasionally.  Maybe, that is because she is the only pet I had before I met my wife over ten years ago.  I have always taken care of her.  She has a favorite spot in my room, where she curls up by the window on the books I have placed there.  When she is not there at night she sleeps on my bed catercorner from me.  She does not get along too well with the other cats.

My relationship with the other six cats are all different.  Cheyenne, a beautiful long haired cat, usually does not let me pet him.  In fact, if I approach him; he goes the opposite way and looks at me with the expression “how dare you go near me.”  Jasmine, a tiny delicate female, the mother of four of our cats, does not seek me out but does not object if I pet her.

China, a long haired exotically colored black and white cat is one cool cat, supremely confidently poised cat will, also, not seek me out but certainly not turn down an hug from me.  Tiger will also not turn me down.  He has the softest fur.  Even the vet commented how soft his fur was.

Pumpkin, the only cat from Jasmine’s first litter, is just a nice cat and gets along with all the other cats.  And then there is Buttons, somewhat similar in coloring to Tiger.  He was the last cat to enter this household.  He showed up at our front door.  He is about as wild as you can be and still be a domestic cat.  He hides under our bed.  And usually goes the other way if I dare approach him.  That takes care of the cats and now I will talk briefly about our four dogs.

There is Pax, the elder, who is a ninety pound scary dog but a real scaredy cat.  He likes the sound of his own voice and will demonstrate that if he runs into the yard and seeks out the furthest right corner of the fence barking every step of the way.  He comes up to me if he wants something for he knows I will not ignore him and act quicker than my wife.  He is getting up in age–now twelve.

Now there is the golden retriever appropriately named Sweetie.  She is very tactile, loves to have something in her mouth and just can not get enough attention.  In fact, she will demand it and sit there all day while you pet her.  She is the mom of the last two dogs (Pax is the Dad) Tilla and Coco.

Coco is a long haired female who is black with a touch of red in there.  She has the most adorable fluffy ears.  She likes her privacy.  She will often go into the bed room by herself and just stay there for hours.  She will lie down there front paws crossed so delicate like completely feminine like.

The last animal I have is Tilla originally called Atilla The Hun and The Olympian.  He is the only dog who could jump the fence we had built around a large section of the yard and necessitated us building it even higher.  He is lean, aggressive and completely black and the most athletic of our four dogs.

He keeps me company as I watch TV in the evening and then sleeps in the Lazy Boy I vacate when I go to bed.  I won his love by giving him a belly rub almost every time he wanted it.  He and I have a special relationship.  He is the only dog I have given walks.  That is a brief description of my relationships I have with my eleven animals.  Each one is different.

Sometimes your animals don’t like you.  Cheyenne a beautiful grey and white long haired cat simply does not like me.  Almost every time I approach him he stiffens as if to say, “Don’t you dare touch me.” and runs in the opposite direction.  I don’t quite understand it.  We have seven cats and he is the only one (minus Buttons who is about as wild as can be and still be a house cat) who does that.  I try repeatedly to pet him.  It is almost always the same result:  he runs away from me.  He wants nothing to do with me.  Cheyenne does not like me.

I actually caught “Cheyenne”, one beautifully marked grey and white long haired male cat who has not been to the vet in over two years.  He is a step slower now.  He has been sniffling so we were both thrilled he will get to the vet today.  Any time I approach him he usually stiffens and gives me the eye:  What right do you have to go near me he seems to say?!  Each animal has likes and dislikes just like humans.  He simply does not like me.  I have accepted that fact but I still periodically try to approach him.  The result is usually the same.  He runs the opposite direction.  Anyway, he is getting his yearly exam.