Old guys still have sharp claws

I realized he wasn’t fighting. He was just giving the ‘old man talk’ to this kid who wandered into his back yard.

My cat is now 19 years old. I don’t know how old that is in dog years, but for a cat, I think it’s pretty old. A 19-year-old cat doesn’t do a lot. He sleeps most of the time, usually in a stray beam of sunshine or on top of the furnace vent.

He will sit on the coffee table and stare at me until I stretch my legs out on the couch so he can lie on them; to get the warmth I am told. My massage therapist says I shouldn’t lounge on the couch because that is what is screwing up my back. Unfortunately, my cat’s stare seems to be quite hypnotic and I usually end up with him stretched out on my extended legs.

He knows exactly how long a period is in an NHL game and when the horn sounds, he stretches and gets up because he knows I’m getting up. He just sits there and waits until I get back, not caring one bit if my back spasms return.

Once in awhile, after his saucer of milk and a couple of mouthfuls of food, he makes a noise to go out and wander around the deck and if I forget he’s out there he tells me off when he comes back in.

The other day, the sun was shining and he went out. After a bit, I heard the familiar sounds of cats sparring off outside. He had dragged his arthritic old hips down the stairs and was face to face with a much younger black cat he had trapped up against the garden shed.

After watching for a bit, I realized he wasn’t fighting. He was just giving the ‘old man talk’ to this kid who wandered into his back yard. When old guys get too old to do the job any more, we become consultants.

The young cat didn’t look scared, it was more like, “geez it’s a nice day, how long am I going to have to sit here and listen to this old fart?” I’m sure he was being told about respecting other people’s property and staying within your own fence, blah, blah, blah.

Eventually, I called to my cat and when he knew I was watching he made one pretend lunge and the younger cat cringed, then bolted off across the lawn and over the fence. My cat turned and looked at me saying, “Well, did you see that, I scared the crap out of him.”

It’s an old guy thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old cat, an old dog or an old man, we will continue to mark our territory until the day we die. Maybe one day it was a beautiful woman, a piece of property or just our reputation, but we defended it.

Today, it may be a parking spot at Tim Horton’s, a spot in line at the buffet, or of course, a beautiful woman. Age has nothing to do with claiming what’s rightfully yours. Any opportunity to lay into some young guy that’s out of line is a welcome change of pace in a world that’s moving pretty fast.

So to all you young whippersnappers out there, when some old guy starts in on you about your nose ring, your tattoo or wearing your hat in the restaurant, listen — but don’t talk.

He may still have some pretty sharp claws. At least that’s what McGregor says.