Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2000

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 17, 2000

One reason I named this column “The Gray Line Tour,” besides the obvious play off my name, is that a columnist tends to run over the same roads, making periodic stops again and again.

Some of my regular stops, as long-time readers of my column already know, include bad drivers, children and police. This one is about one of my otherregular stops – my cats.

To be brief, my two cats are developing weird traits. Nothing should surpriseme, since the cats I’ve had in the past all got some measure of weirdness over the years. Likely, it came through living with me.My current two are Macavity and Moriarty.

Macavity is reminding me more and more of my late and lamented cat- companion, Sax. He’s becoming surly, argumentative, contrary andaltogether too bad-tempered for his own good.

Besides that, he burbles instead of purrs, and he licks soap.

My wife and I got Macavity from a work-friend of hers as a tiny, fuzzy kitten.

His name comes from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” onwhich the hit musical, “Cats” was based.

The “character” of Macavity in the book is based loosely on the arch-villain Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Hence, you can also see where I got the name for the other cat. More on himlater.

Macavity came into a household an older cat named Miss Cocaine. MissCocaine, by this time in her long life, was quite frail, being about 17 years old. Macavity as an aggressively playful kitten, loved to leap on her back andwrestle with her. It was like a 2-year-old leaping onto a great-grandmother.However, by the time she died, Macavity had the run of the household. Thismeant, of course, that he felt (and feels) that he owns the house, he owns us and he’s the lord of all he surveys.

This took a nasty hit when we added Moriarty to the household. Mac (as wecall Macavity for short) was upset at sharing his people-pets with a second cat, horning in on his territory.

Being more than twice his size, Mac made it a habit to regularly and aggressively pounce and wrestle half-pint Mort.

And, to show off his own aggressiveness, Mort’s now pouncing Mac at every opportunity.

Mort, by now, has put on a few pounds and the wrestling has eased back.

We’ve just started letting him stay out all night, and he’s repaid our trust by not yet getting lost. However, he has a few quirks as well. Eating oatmeal isone of them.

Also, as a night-cat, Mort has lately taken to dragging into the house every lizard, toad, grasshopper, mouse and bird he can capture. I can handle that,though, as common cat behavior.

That oatmeal thing has me worried, though.

Anyone know a good pet psychiatrist? For me?

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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