Creature Comforts

Ask Wyatt: Sweaters, guests and gluttony

Dear Wyatt,

I have been cold since September, but I much prefer my nakedness to being stuffed into a sweater, strapped into a coat or dressed in any manner of clothing. Don’t they know how humiliated I feel wearing anything but my own, luxurious pelt? Granted, I do suffer, as my short, sleek fur is rated more for the 50-80 degree range than anything going on from now until late Spring. And when that icy rain falls from the sky, I do admit to making messes indoors on occasion, as I have trouble staying out long enough to complete my “duties” on really crummy winter days.

But I’d just as soon grit my teeth and bear it (bare!) than don a thick, cumbersome sweater or coat — clothes just get in my way, and I have stuff to do, rabbits to chase, and a yard to patrol. I can’t go around looking sissy pants — the neighbor dogs snicker at me! Plus, this latest atrocity they wrestled onto me adds like a whole POUND to my slender, svelte, athletic frame. It’s humiliating. Why don’t my people understand that I prefer a state of undress, even outside in the snow (followed by a nine-hour snuggle in a fluffy blanket on a warm lap)? How can I get them to stop trying to “help” me stay warm with clothing?

— President and Founder of N.U.D.E (Naked Unafraid Dogs Everywhere)

Dear N.U.D.E. Prez.,

Being a well-rounded cat (so to speak), with a coat rated for, like 0-80 degrees, I definitely do not feel your pain. Of course, being a cloistered, indoor cat, I am content to sit in the window and watch you dogs suffer in the frozen tundra. It’s quite a show. I do agree, though, that that latest sweater is (pardon my language) — WOOF! Not a good look for you, my friend. Also, you do walk funny when they cram you into clothes of any kind, which does not help your street cred, I must say.

Why don’t you try running away and hiding instead of making it so easy for them to catch you and dress you? Also, try not to shiver and look so pathetic when it’s cold. Even I feel sorry for you, and I have made a lifetime career of trying to ignore all dogs. (No offense, it’s a cat thing.) Good luck. Think warm thoughts.

Dear Wyatt,

It’s happening, again — they are cleaning the house from top to bottom. This can mean only one thing: company is coming! I love my home, and enjoy my family, but I get very anxious when our normally quiet, serene home is suddenly filled to bursting with strangers: adults, children, sometimes even other animals! Suddenly, I have to change all my paths through the house (because their stuff is scattered EVERYWHERE!) and I never know when it’s safe to come out from under the bed to visit my litter box or even eat. On particularly crowded, noisy occasions, I have gone almost 36 hours before I ventured out from my hidey-hole. Usually, I have to wait until it’s all dark and quiet and they are all sleeping to move safely about the house. And that time they brought the dogs, I never totally felt safe until they were long gone. Those dogs were big, scary, and extremely rude; I had to HISS and swat at them!

You’re a cat, I’m sure you understand my plight. How do you handle situations like this — or are you blessed with a family that never has visitors? Wouldn’t THAT be nice?

— Agoraphobic, Enochlophobic, Metathesiophobic, Phonophobic, Zoophobic Feline

Dear Scaredy Cat,

I can sympathize with you on the home invasion that occurs every so often and can involve noisy, rambunctious visitors of all sizes, shapes and species. It happens in my home, too. But I have never been one to stray too far from my food bowl. Further, Virgil’s and my cat boxes are in the basement, and nobody but us and our immediate family ever ventures down there, so I always feel pretty secure in knowing I have a safe spot to go to when things get to be too much for me. Virgil has been known to stuff himself into the rafters in the basement behind the old cans of paint on the nearby shelf whenever a serviceman comes to the house, but I prefer to stay closer to my food dish and hide in the cabinet under the computer on the main floor.

Some good things that always go with a house full of people and their dogs: there’s a lot of entertainment — and free hugs. I actually enjoy the attention, once the initial shock of the onslaught dies down. I enjoy rifling through all their belongings — what a bonus. Oh, and in my experience, the more guests milling around in the house, the more food is prepared and just begging to be tasted. I will taste almost anything once. Except if it contains cinnamon, which is the most noxious substance on earth. Steer clear of this abomination.

If you are that fearful of crowded spaces, crowds, change, loud noises and other animals, you probably are best served to hide until the commotion dies down. Trying to brave all of those things without gradual acclimation may send you over the edge! However, you must use your litter box regularly and continue eating and drinking at least once a day, or you’ll be sure to make yourself sick! Coming out at night is a good idea, but be sure your owners have taken steps to confine any visiting animals so you don’t have to interact with them when nobody is there to intervene if things go awry. It’s okay to lie low, but take care of yourself.

Dear Wyatt,

Holidays for me means turkey. I once ate an entire turkey carcass. My owners were worried sick about me. I was just sick. They said I was plain lucky not to have needed surgery. Whatever. I got better. I still love turkey, bones and all. Do you like turkey?

— Turkey Gobbler

Dear Gobbler,

I would eat turkey from a big, brown shoe. Mmm, turkey.

Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at