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'What the stinky everything!'

November 18, 2012
By SHAUNNA DUNDER HERSHBERGER - Lifestyles Editor ( , Times Leader

"I think there's something wrong with your cat," my husband, Justin, said to me one evening.

As I watched the newest addition to our nest, Rohan, zip through the living room like a maniac, I raised my eyebrows and asked Justin, "What do you mean MY cat?"

Justin smirked. "That's right. YOUR cat."

"You picked him," I retorted. "You chose the defective one."

Technically, Rohan is not "defective" in any way. In fact, he's probably one of the liveliest cats on the planet. If I could bottle up one hour of his energy, I'm pretty sure I could run my car on it to Cleveland and back. Sure, he'll curl up and nap on occasion, but the rest of the time, he's blitzing through the house like a cat possessed.

Everything started innocently enough. Justin and I toyed with the idea of adopting another kitty to join us and our dog, Nya, and our other cat, Ziggy. Justin's not much for a long deliberation, and he came home with a kitten pretty much the same day we had the discussion. The kitten's orange and white face, one striped paw and one solid white paw, and little off-center patch of orange under his chin were just too much to resist. He was adorable.

Perhaps his initial cuteness blinded us to the warning signs. We took Rohan to the vet a few days after we adopted him for a checkup. He proceeded to climb all over the carrier, trying to stretch his way up the wall to bat at the photo hanging there. The vet tech just laughed at us and said, "Looks like you two have a healthy, very active little guy." Indeed.

A few days later, we noticed Rohan limping. We wondered if maybe he and Ziggy got into it, but we didn't notice any marks on his leg. We made a return trip to the vet, and after we explained how Rohan leaps and runs like a wild man, the vet determined that Rohan probably sprained his leg jumping off of something high. "I know it's easier said than done," he said, "But try to keep him off of high places for a few days." Justin and I just laughed. You can pretty much imagine how that worked out.

Over the course of the four months we've had him, Rohan somehow became the king of the house. Poor Ziggy, even though he's older and was the resident cat, can barely tolerate his little brother. Rohan always wants to play, which means "I must attack Ziggy and sink my teeth into his neck like a vampire." At first we felt bad for Ziggy, but then we learned that he was just whining. "Get him back, Ziggy!" Justin encouraged him when Rohan pounced. One time, I attempted to take a photo of Ziggy sitting in a box in our living room, and right as I snapped the photo, Rohan jumped in the box and attacked him. The resulting photo has Ziggy's mouth wide open - caught mid-scream. It was hilarious. On the other hand, we've seen these two curled up next to each other on the couch, so apparently they've come to some type of agreement to co-exist.

Most of the time, though, Rohan plays with Nya. She loves to chase after him. They'll even lay on the floor together and bat at each other. For being a big dog, Nya is surprisingly gentle with Rohan. Their bond was almost immediate, and Rohan follows Nya around a lot. In fact, sometimes when Nya is sleeping, Rohan moves over to lay next to her.

I've told Rohan on several occasions that he's lucky that he's so cute. The phrase, "Rohan, NO!" has become a staple in our home. At times, I've pulled out the "big guns" and yelled at Rohan in Hungarian. Oh yeah. When Shaunna breaks out the Hungarian, it's time to look out.

I am by no means fluent in Hungarian, but I know a handful of words and can count. My grandma used to tell us Hungarian nursery rhymes and sing Hungarian songs to us, and of course, growing up, I picked up a lot of other phrases. The one that my grandma, and then my mom, and now I yell in frustration is, "Asta budos minden it!" (I had some trouble locating the spelling of the first word in that phrase so I took an educated guess based on the little I know about Hungarian.) If you say it phonetically, it sounds like "AU-sta BEE-desh MEAN-den it." Justin pronounces it, "Biddy biddy biddy doctor manga." (Not kidding - he can't say it.)

One day I asked my mom what the phrase actually meant. She didn't know for sure. We determined it was probably slang, meaning it would probably be impossible to find the right spelling and phrasing. However, mom broke it down word by word, and in the very literal sense, we determined the phrase stated, "What the stinky everything!" Actually, based on context clues, the phrase probably means, "Why do you have to be such a stinker?" or something along those lines. I kind of prefer my mom's literal translation.

Rohan IS a stinker. And, Ziggy isn't the only one who is the recipient of his vampire act. Rohan's newest "trick" is to come up to my face while I'm lying in bed and bite my fingers, arm, elbow, or pretty much any appendage that may be sticking out from under the covers. These aren't painful bites, but more like a playful nibble.

Justin and I looked up this behavior online (of course, Google solves all!) and many sources suggested these bites were actually a form of affection, almost like a kiss. That's funny, because he seems to have his "kisses" timed perfectly to feeding time. When he wants to eat, he does whatever he can to chew me into submission.

Rohan, of course, doesn't bite Justin. For some reason, he likes to use me as a chew toy. So most of the time, if I wish to sleep past 5 a.m., I have to curl myself up into an uncomfortable pretzel so there is no limb anywhere near his teeth. Not that this makes me safe. He'll bite my nose too.

"We need that cat whisperer guy to come in," Justin said. "That Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet."

"Sure," I answered skeptically as I shooed Rohan off the kitchen counter - a new playground of uncharted territory that he can suddenly reach. I watched as he jumped back up onto the counter, with pretty much only two square inches of space to spare. He then attempted to hop up on top of the shelf above the built in oven, but he was not quite nimble-footed enough. He didn't clear it and landed tail end into my freshly brewed coffee.

"Rohan!" I shouted. "What the stinky everything!"

Hmm.... I do believe I may have a new catch phrase. And one really "stinky" cat.



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