DALE McFEATTERS Can Bob the Cat top the best-seller list?
Clearly, there's money in the family pet.
John Grogan's "Marley & amp; Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog" is atop the best-seller list. Another columnist, Cindy Adams, will probably make the list with her new "Living a Dog's Life: Juicy, Jazzy and Me." A Wall Street Journal tease to a story inside about Lillian Jackson Braun read "The Cat Who Sold 30 Million Books."
Oh, yes, there's money to be had. The trick is how to get at it, but, frankly, our family pet, Bob the Cat, looks like unpromising material.
The cat showed up at our house while I was on a trip and just sort of stayed. That was seven years ago. Had I been home, the cat would not have stayed because I am thoroughly allergic to cats; of course, Bob loves me best. The cat had clearly been well cared for. He still bolts frantically for the kitchen when he hears the can opener, even though we've never fed him anything but dry food.
He is a handsome cat, white-and-butterscotch-colored, and I checked with the authorities and faithfully read the lost-cat posters, but no one had reported him missing. Lots of others, but not Bob. My sister-in-law, an Army wife, speculates that a military or diplomatic family got transferred to some place inhospitable to felines, drove around until they found a nice neighborhood and wished the cat a happy life.
That would explain his hostility to cars. My son Matt, the cat's second-favorite person, took him on an orientation ride before a vacation trip and got only around the block before the wailing and the dense stench of panicked cat made us give up.
My wife left him food and water on the front porch for a week. We ended up being gone for three because my mother broke her hip, and I figured, farewell, the cat would sign on with another outfit. But no. We pulled up in front of the house and Bob shot off the porch to give everyone's pant leg a welcoming shed of white fur.
Bob doesn't seem to mind being left behind, and carries on with his life's work of sleeping in every conceivable place in the house. When we're home, he sleeps mostly on my side of the bed, the better to make my eyes itch and water.
He got his name because my wife and daughter were calling him something goopy, like "Li'l Kitty-Kitty," so I decreed he be called "Bob Cat" as in "bobcat." Somehow that became "Bob the Cat," which, as some remarked, makes it sound like something out of Damon Runyon.
As I have observed, if you have to have a cat, Bob is not a bad cat to have, but he seems to have no exploitable literary value. He's pretty good about not clawing things. He didn't purr or meow at all the first couple of years we had him, but now he won't shut up.
Bob the Cat seems to have only two skills worthy of note. He can recognize from a slight distance the sound of two of our cars, the one we use for commutes and the one for vacations, and waits in the cul de sac to greet us.
He can also recognize the fanfare theme music that the networks use to introduce NFL games because it means there will be a bunch of males sprawled on the couch who will scratch his ears while the game progresses. However, the raucous merriment during the Super Bowl -- we're Steelers fans -- caused him to decamp for elsewhere in the house.
His other talent is shedding on my dark suits and sport coats. That's not much to work with. I'm afraid that if there's going to be a best seller about Bob the Cat, Bob is going to have to write it himself.
Scripps Howard News Service