by Lisa

When Joe and I were settling in to our new house and life together, his huge yellow tabby Sulla hated me passionately. When Joe left the house, Sulla would stalk me so that I had to constantly watch my back unless Joe locked him in the bathroom. Worse yet, he would get on the narrow circular stairs and fiercely defend his right to block me from going upstairs or if I were upstairs from going downstairs. Once he chewed up a broom I was trying to use to push him up after all overtures failed. Sometimes it was so bad that I used to walk around the house screaming "Get out of my face, cat!"

After what seemed like an eternity of this behavior, the day finally came when I had absolutely had it with the cat. I walked past him where he was eating. He gave me his usual hiss of absolute jealous hatred. I wheeled and screamed at him in a pitch Maria Callas would have been proud of. Sulla scurried for the nearest hiding place. Joe practically leaped down the stairs, demanding as he came what had happened. I got the story out from a suddenly raspy throat (I was to have a sore throat for the next three days.) Sulla hid from me for three days. During those three days I had time to reflect on my behavior towards Sulla, time to realize that maybe returning anger for anger had been counterproductive. The next time Sulla defended the stairs against me I got down to his level and began to tell him how pretty he was. He hissed even more angrily and batted at me. I held my ground and kept telling him how pretty and sweet he was, no matter how sharp his teeth suddenly looked. Finally he gave one last hiss and stalked away contemptuously. I persisted in refusing to fight and in flattering my enemy. Finally the day came when I could call my mother and tell her that I was finally petting Sulla.