When one lives in the Hannibal Hood there are any number of sounds that can awaken a person from a sound slumber in the middle of the night – people walking past who are seemingly in training for a shouting contest, a vehicle with the bass of its stereo system turned up to earthquake mode, barking dogs that must sleep during the day, a train horn when the wind is out of the south, fireworks exploding, sirens of emergency vehicles, a tractor-trailer using its Jake brake out on the highway and, of course, the occasional gunshot or two, if not more.

Recently I woke up to what initially sounded like small children fussing just outside the Henley hacienda. However, as I became more awake my assessment of the sound I was hearing changed. It became clear that it was not youngsters making the ruckus, but at least two cats that were engaged in a territorial dispute of some type. Not only were the felines vocalizing their respective positions, but occasionally there was a thud on my front porch which indicated things were getting at least a bit physical.

Since I did not get up to declare a late-night truce, I can only speculate about the identities of the participants. However, I suspect I met one of the combatants a morning or so later.

As I stood looking out my front screen door a cat came walking down the sidewalk in front of my house. The animal is mostly white with patches of dark fur scattered here and there across its body. It truly is a beautiful creature.

Spotting me, the cat made a right turn at the steps which lead up to my porch, despite my repeated harsh invitations for it to depart the premises if it knew what was good for it. To add insult to injury the cat jumped into the porch swing and began licking itself.

In my pre-Parkinson's days I would have taken a more physical approach to getting the cat off my porch. But unfortunately, those days are gone. Consequently, I took the next option I could think of; I called my wife, Nancy, into the room.

"You have had it now pussy cat," I thought to myself, envisioning my bride utilizing a broom to drive home the point that it was not wanted here.

However, Nancy's repeated calls for the kitty to go home were only met with more swinging and grooming.

"Whatever you do, don't open the door. It is trying to get in," Nancy told me.

Nancy's assessment of the cat's intentions proved to be spot on. Over the past week it attempted to enter our basement on more than one occasion and at least once was found hanging out, looking for an opening, by our house's rear door.

The cat found an ally in our oldest son, Caleb, who spent a good chunk of last week in Hannibal working on the exterior of the hacienda. It was not uncommon to find the cat with Caleb whenever he was outside, no doubt looking to be rubbed or, even better, fed.

"We need to name the cat," he said, proposing potential monikers such as Patches, Cloud and Mike. Patches and Cloud were inspired by the animal's markings. But why Mike I inquired. Because it looks like a Mike, my son replied. I personally favored the name So Long.

"Don't name the cat," Nancy said. "It isn't staying."

Noting that our children have a combined total of five canines, Nancy said, "This house is definitely a cat-free zone."

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