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My mother-in-law and I spent an afternoon with my 20-year-old daughter in Kent. Josie adopted a kitten the week before our visit. I was more excited about meeting her pet than seeing her, and I admitted as much to her while I was there. There’s something so precious about the innocence of a baby animal and its fresh take on the world.

Her furry, new ward had no clue how fortunate he became the day Josie decided he should be her cat. He’s the youngest kitty I’ve been around in a long time. Named Garth (no connection with Garth Brooks!), his soft, buff-colored coat is accented with white around his pink nose and white feet with pink food pads.

Garth could be a poster kitten. Most kittens fit that image, but that’s where all tranquility ends. His tiny, sharp claws are like needles and his inquisitive, sharp eyes are focused to take in the world with aggression.

For now, Garth can squeeze under the both the couch and the recliner in Jo’s living room. Trouble is, Jo warned us, he can get pinched if you rock while he’s under the chair. Grandma, who chose the chair, had to freeze several times while we scanned the room to make sure he was elsewhere. Mom is not a cat fan, but I could see that she was just as amused by the kitten’s activity as I was.

Garth fascinated me as he romped, full tilt, before us, then, within seconds, fell limp, deep in exhausted sleep. Jo and I fell in sync with his lead and dozed on either end of the couch with the kitten on the center cushion between us leaving Grandma awake and bored, gazing across at the three of us.

I’ve formed the bad habit of burning my candle at both ends. Jo has been short on sleep all semester, trying to keep up with school work, her job and apartment keeping. The situation made me take special note of some pertinent pointers in a recent weekend magazine.

We develop close relationships with our pets, but we should never give them equal billing with people. I’m certain I can’t convince my brother of this, but I’m sure Josie will keep things in proper perspective. Not everyone is an animal lover.

Another article in the magazine warns of the dangers of dozing off while driving. Our ride home from Kent was not the first time recently I frightened myself, no doubt, due to my poor sleeping routine, fighting off sleep at the wheel. For once, I was thankful my mother-in-law is a chatterbox.

I am not just a minor traffic hazard. According to research, drowsy drivers are just as dangerous as drunken drivers. Sleepy drivers are as big a risk on our roads as speeders and a greater risk than aggressive or inattentive drivers (the ones I’m critical of). Driving while drowsy nearly triples the odds of being in a crash. It also triples the odds of not being there to take care of your pets.

I’m thinking I’d best follow the words of entertainer Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. If he could only slap me in the face and say, “Hey, wake up and go to sleep!”

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