News Columns & Blogs

Cat bites son-in-law, whose hand swells up like a Zeppelin

(Editor's note: Today's column contains several extremely clever product placements. See if you can spot them.)

I own two cats, which, if you do the math, works out to the following number of animals over which I have any influence whatsoever: zero. And that includes the dead lizard they brought into the house, leaving me to notify the next of kin.

But until recently, I had never considered my cats a liability. Cats seem so easy. They bathe themselves, make their own social arrangements and walk themselves to the outdoor biffy.

Dogs, on the other hand, behave more like young boys. They won’t ever bathe unless you force them into the shower. They follow people they like with their tongues hanging out and never, ever become fully potty-trained.

Cats don’t feign irrational joy over my coming home each day, as dogs do. In fact, my cats usually look at me as if they’re shaking their heads in disappointment that I yet again managed to escape a fatal tragedy, thus robbing them of their share of the life insurance.

So I was feeling pretty smug about having low-maintenance pets until our most cuddly and cute cat, named Hank, bit my son-inlaw, causing his fingers to swell up into a fleet of five Goodyear blimps.

It wasn’t Hank’s fault. He was happily purring away in my son-in-law’s arms when another human made the terrifying sound of setting a glass on the counter, sending panic through Hank’s nervous system. This set off a complex system of synapses that ultimately resulted in the completely reasonable urge to bite something, after which Hank felt much better and demanded more petting.

My son-in-law, however, watched his hand blow up like the Michelin Man. We all took several steps back, half expecting the ends of his fingers to explode, sending disgusting human guts all over the walls, which we we're pretty sure the cats would not clean up.

Once we were confident his hand was only going to inflate to the size of a set of Firestones on a monster truck, the rest of us kind of laughed it off. As we headed off to a Mariner’s game, we joked about painting a giant ‘M’ on his palm, and his improved chances of catching a foul ball.

My son-in-law didn’t find any of this amusing. For one thing, he’s an avid golfer and they don’t make clubs thick enough for a hand like that. For another thing, he’s a policeman and he worried about the future of his trigger finger.

I suggested he get a really, really big gun, like a 45,000 Magnum or something, but that didn’t seem to hit the funny bone either.

By the time we were driving home, the hand had ballooned into a mitt the size of Montana. We considered renting a trailer with oversized Dunlops just to haul the darn thing down I-5.

We did get him appropriate medical care, which seemed to diffuse the pressure that had built up during the day. I know I felt better when he promised not to sue or make us take our daughter back again.


Joe Hyer of Alpine Experience presented the City of Lacey with 24 brand new Jansport backpacks last week, worth about $4,500. The city’s parks department will use them for youth and adult backpacking programs. It’s enough for two or three simultaneous trips. ... The Olympia Downtown Association is looking for a part-time downtown environmental maintenance worker. ... Don’t forget the Dragon Boat races today. Festivities start at the Port Plaza around 9 a.m. and the actual racing takes off about 10:15 a.m. More than 4,000 people are expected to watch the races, which are now in their sixth year and organized by Saint Martin’s University. ... “Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” — Jean-Paul Sartre.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or