My dad didn't like cats, but we had one anyway. When I was in high school, a gray stray wandered into our yard and my visiting great uncle took an immediate shine to him. Just like that, we had a cat. My uncle's name was Austin, and so then was the cat's. But Dad never forgot why he didn't like them. In fact, it was one of his better stories.

Dad was a funeral director and licensed mortician. One night many years ago he went out on a death call. Upon his arrival, he was led to a basement where the body of the deceased man was lying. And there was a cat--presumably his--sitting on his chest. As Dad approached to remove the body, the cat stood up, arched his back, and snarled--the kind of snarl, from what I understand, that would make anyone's blood run cold. Dad asked the man's widow to remove the cat and she did so. From that point forward, no cats were allowed within "striking" distance of my dad...until the day Austin arrived. By the way, my grandparents and great-grandparents were TERRIFIED of cats; it ran in the family, I guess. So I couldn't help but wonder how they all might have reacted had they come upon something like this furry little feline: