“Thurston,” I said. “Why do you bite?”

Our big, orange-and-white, yellow-eyed cat looked up at me, flipped over on his back and purred.

Thurston is an affectionate feline who loves to be patted, but if you do it too long, he starts biting.

“Ouch!” I’ll hear my husband shout from the other end of the house. “Stop that!”

One minute we love Thurston; the next, we want to run the other way.

“We could give him away,” Phil says, though I know he’s only joking, because he loves Thurston.

He talks to him as though he is a person.

“Thurston, when you grow up, will you still bite so much?”

Thurston will be 2 years old on June 17. We got him at the Humane Society Waterville Area when he was 2 months old.

We had been looking for an orange kitten, as Phil had always wanted one, and there he was, a little ball of yellow fur snoozing inside a big cage with his litter mates.

The minute I picked him up, he started purring. I handed him to Phil, and he continued to purr and clawed his way to Phil’s shoulder, but in an affectionate way.

To be accurate, Thurston doesn’t bite all the time, and his teeth don’t break the skin. And he loves Bitsy, our 12-year-old striped gray-and-black cat, who looks like a Maine coon.

Now, Bitsy wouldn’t think of biting or scratching unless someone were threatening her. She is kind, caring and mild-tempered. She tolerates Thurston.

When they are in the house, they chase each other around and pretend to fight, and often she will hiss and whack at him when he jumps on her and growls.

But when they go outside, they are comrades. They guard and protect each other.

When Thurston was a kitten, we used a leash with a halter to show him around outdoors; when we finally freed him from the leash, Bitsy watched him like a hawk.

She made sure he did not leave the yard and kept an eye on him as if he were her baby. That was a far cry from when we first brought him home; she was very unhappy. He, on the other hand, adored her from the start.

It took about six months for them to bond, and when they did, there was no turning back.

If Thurston stays out too long, Bitsy will not settle down until he is in. We do not allow them outside after dark, yet sometimes Bitsy violates her curfew and plays games with us if she is out when the sun starts to go down. She inches close to the door, and if we go to fetch her, she skitters away and chases insects.

When she finally does opt to come in and waddles to the living room, where Thurston is waiting, he literally jumps with joy.

They are two very different felines, in both looks and personality, but boy, they make life interesting. He looks up to her, though he is twice her size. Just when you think she has had it with him, we find them sleeping, paw-to-paw, on the spare bed.

I haven’t had a dog since I was a child, but I can’t imagine anything beating the companionship of a cat. They love us no matter what, they provide us with daily entertainment, and they don’t ask for much.

Aside from that, cats are just beautiful and elegant and smart. Would that we all had friends like that.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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