When I lived in New York, there was a very pregnant, very messed up kitten - one year old tops - living in the lot behind my tenement.

She'd apparently been on the streets for the entire winter before I noticed and started feeding her. She had sores, was missing fur and couldn't use her right rear leg. The animal had clearly used eight of her nine lives, and was rapidly pissing through the last.

So I grabbed her with the idea of taking her to the vet, getting her fixed up and finding her a good home. Didn't work out that way (they grow on you!) and we were still together over ten years later. The animal was totally attached to me, and would follow me around like a dawg.

Back then I owned an Art Gallery in the East Village, and I lived in a small space in the rear. I'd have these huge openings once a month, with perhaps one hundred people milling around.

Even so, the animal would insist on staying right next to me as I worked the crowd. She was pretty insecure, since I was her meal ticket.

She was quite good company though, and with a lot of time on my hands back then (the art business is NOT one of your more fast paced and dynamic fields) I even taught her several tricks; if I made a psst psst noise, she would rush to me from where ever she was, since roughly one time out of three she'd get one of these kitty treats that she relished.

Another trick was to slap my thigh twice sharply. With approximately the same reward ratio, she knew to jump up into my lap.

She was actualy bright enough to recognize that TWO noises were necessary to be rewarded.

I thought it was pretty cool, and it made for good entertainment when my friends from back home in the country would visit, and brag about how smart their dawgs were, and how cats 1) were dumber, or 2) couldn't be trained.

I moved to London about three years ago, and Sam - that's her name - got a really good home with a guy who totally spoils her.

She's balloned up to about twenty pounds, looks more like a butter ball turkey than a cat these days, and seems happy as hell.

But I don't think she was ever too keen on the whole tricks 'thang. I tried when I visited her in New York last Christmas; "psst psst". Sam just looked blankly at me from across the room, yawned and went to back to her cleaning.

Bitch.

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