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Baumgarten: I love my cat, the jerk

I’m an animal lover. Whenever I get out to the farm I always make a point to go outside and greet my fuzzy friends. It’s just in my nature.

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For seven years, I essentially had to live without my very own four-legged friend. My college prohibited pets in the dormitory halls. When I lived in Hazen, I could not have a pet.

The family, who graciously allowed me to live in their basement, had two Schnauzers. They were so much fun, but I still wanted my own pet.

I finally found a place that allowed cats, and I was more than ready to get one. I really didn’t care what I got. I just wanted something of my own to cuddle, feed and care for ... I think I just described having a boyfriend.

About six weeks ago, as you may or may not know, I got Leo — a big fuzzball of orange fur after a friend let me take him home with me. I instantly fell in love with him when we first met; he couldn’t stop pawing at my leg and rolling over on his back so I could scratch his belly. He was almost like a dog — he actually comes to you when you call his name.

My other friends told me I should get a dog. The rumor is that cats are soulless beings that enslave their owners. They say you can train a dog while a cat trains you.

I had never had experience with a house cat, as all the cats my family took care of lived outdoors. I’m of the strong opinion that cats want to naturally be outside. They want wide, open spaces where they can sharpen their claws and hunt mice.

But I wanted to give Leo a shot. He was too cute and lovable to not have a heart, right?

Turns out Leo has a soul, but it is a very needy one. The lion, as I call him, is high maintenance and constantly wants to be the center of attention. If he doesn’t get it, he gets back.

For instance, he meows when he wants to be scratched. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he usually uses other things to scratch his itch, like the side of my laptop or my iPhone. It’s annoying, but I can usually ignore him when I’m super busy.

He also likes to feel secure by jumping in my bed and sleeping with me. He has his own pillow in the living room, but he always sleeps with me. Usually he will pick a spot between my legs or right next to my head. But every now and then, he likes to paw on me. His paws go up and down on my side for about a minute before he settles on my body, closes his eyes and purrs the night away. I usually don’t let him take advantage of me, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

But possibly the worst thing he has done was when I was enthralled in a computer project at home.

Leo doesn’t like the machine; I think he’s jealous. As I sat there on my chair typing away, the lion saw it fit to schedule a petting session. He proceeded to jump up on the chair and rub his head on the computer. I told him to stop, but he simply jumped up on the back rest. Then he wrapped his tail around my face, swatting it back it forth. I pushed him away and continued, and that’s when he got upset. He took his paw and gently pushed the glass of water over, right onto my lap.

If that wasn’t enough, I moved to the couch, where he thought it would be appropriate to shove my phone in between the cushions. I had two choice words for him, but he simply narrowed his eyes. I could have sworn he smiled.

My cat is a jerk, like most cats. He is an attention hog, like most boyfriends or girlfriends. And I don’t feel bad about this column, because something tells me if he could read he would chuckle in agreement.

I could say that I hate him, but that would be a lie. After a long day of work, I get to walk down the hallway as Leo greets me with his constant meowing. I love how he jumps up onto the chair and on my lap when I want him to. He’s so funny as he slides across the kitchen floor chasing a catnip-saturated toy. And he is adorable when he lies on his back and sleeps, much like a boyfriend would.

My cat may be a jerk, but he is my jerk. And I can’t help but love him.

Baumgarten is the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press. Email her at Like her on Facebook at Follow her at

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.