Quiet Desperation

A perfect place for those who love cats and toes


Ernest Hemingway kept six-toed cats at his home, now a museum, in Key West, Florida.

They’re called “polydactyl cats.”

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum currently has 40-50 polydactyl cats roaming around.

Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes.

Six-toed cats were often taken on ships for two reasons: They were good at ridding rodents, and they were thought to be lucky.

Hemingway was given his first polydactyl cat, named Snow White, by a ship captain.

In general, people are thought to prefer dogs or cats, not both.

I prefer dogs, and I prefer a specific breed. I am on my fourth (and final) Dachshund.

I don’t hold much with folklore, as fascinating as it is. I doubt if Hexe, Badger, Smitty or Harry have brought me greater luck than the fortune of knowing them.

Harry has allergies. Determining what they were was expensive.

Bloodwork was done and sent to a laboratory in Mesa, Arizona. The results came back in a book that looked like the one Ralph Edwards used to read from on “This Is Your Life.”

There were pages of possible allergies with checked and unchecked boxes next to them.

The main culprit, we determined, was oats.

But there were others: rap music, Fox News, hat check girls who wear tons of makeup, and wedding receptions.

Harry now eats a prescription diet. The dry and hard food cannot be purchased without a prescription.

He takes a pill a day too.

None of this has brought me luck.

But, as I said, knowing him does.

How does your dog or cat look to you these days?

My guess is your dog or cat looks better than ever.

Harry and I read the newspaper together each and every morning.

I look at the front page and moan, groan, mumble and mutter, and all he does is give me two brown eyes that shine with the bliss of joyful ignorance.

Ignorance in the sense he is uninformed.

Harry is smart, but he’s not in the Top Ten.

Here’s the list: Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillon, Rottweiler and Australian Cattle Dog.

Dogs at the bottom of the list will be listed at the bottom of the column.

As for cats?

Who cares?

Oh, OK: Abyssinian, Burmese, Cornish Rex, Siamese, Scottish Fold and Eartha Kitt.

Remember Cat Stevens?

He was born Steven Demetre Georgiou. He changed his name to Cat Stevens and then to Yusuf Islam.

Like Cher, he now goes by a mononym: Yusuf. That’s four names in one lifetime.

My name isn’t very cool. And cool is the word you want.

There are no hyphens, apostrophes or nothing. And it is easy to spell and to pronounce.

I have a boomer name.

If you have ever wondered about “Boomer” Esiason, here’s the skinny. He was born Norman Julius Esiason in East Islip, New York.

He was given the nickname “Boomer” before he was born because of the loud noises he was making in the womb, not because he attended “Boomer Sooner” Oklahoma. He went to Maryland and was, therefore, a Terrapin.

The bottom ten: Shih Tzu, Bassett Hound, Mastiff/Beagle (tie), Pekingese, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Chow Chow, Bulldog, Basenji, Afghan Hound. (All of whom can outsmart the smartest cat ever made.)

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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