Puppy Love

Originally published in Lake & Sumter Style, July 2008 •


My cat Maachka loves two things: catnip and Bruno, the Yorkshire terrier who lives next door. Occasionally— usually around dinnertime—she has a glimmer of admiration for whoever is opening a can of cat food. But for the most part, it’s Bruno she yearns for from the confines of our lanai.

The one thing she can’t stand is my other cat, Duncan, but that’s another story. The mystery to me is why a cat whose name means “cat” in Slovakian would love a dog more than a fellow feline. I guess, as the saying goes, love knows no boundaries.

Maachka’s unlikely love affair began six years ago when our neighbor acquired her miniature canine ball of energy. Each morning when Bruno’s mom takes him out, Maachka runs to the corner of the screened lanai and makes a sound like a muffled yodel mixed with some very vocal purring. If Bruno isn’t around, Maachka “yodels” at the top of her kitty lungs until my neighbor brings him for a visit. In the beginning, this warbling, high pitch feline singing often made neighbors and friends ask what was wrong with our cat.

“Is she hurting?” they asked quite frequently.

Apparently unrequited love causes just as much anguish for the feline species as it does our own.

It wasn’t just the singing that made us realize we had a budding romance on our hands. If Maachka doesn’t see Bruno at the back screen door, she sits at the front window where she can keep an eye on the street and possibly attract his attention during one of his walks. With his stubby tail wagging and big brown eyes sparkling, Bruno seems flattered that a cat thinks he’s cute.

The prancing and preening along the screen divide that keeps these two lovebirds apart has been quite entertaining, especially for their two doting “moms.” Dads, however, often have a different take on loving the boy next door.

“That’s disgusting,” my husband remarked the first time he saw Maachka lay on her back and expose her stomach for Bruno to see her in all her glory.

But Dad needn’t have worried. The first—and only—time that Maachka and Bruno met nose-to-nose was less than idyllic. She seemed startled that the screen boundary was no longer between them. A few quick sniffs were followed by a hiss and a slap.

Poor Bruno looked wounded and confused. No wonder. He was probably trying to understand what human men have been trying to figure out since the beginning of time: what makes girls act the way they do.

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