A few times I wrote about my beloved mutt, Cheech, who wrote my column once, complete with her picture. She did pretty well for a beginner with no typing fingers.
To my sorrow and pain, Cheech passed on a while back and, later, in a miscarriage of justice, I became "Daddy" to a cat. (There are no plans for him to write the column.) I won't explain other to say the cat was connected to a woman then in my life, and when she left she didn't take her own cat with her. I don't have a hard-enough heart to take him to the shelter because they would put him down.
How do I know that? Because the 16-pound black cat, named Ashes, is ornery. He bites and scratches - even me. As a matter of honesty, I would warn the shelter. Because there are so many sweet cats needing homes, his bad attitude would earn him a nonstop trip to the "E room," the E standing for euthanasia. I can't do that.
Most other cats, while moody, don't have Ashes' bad manners. As proof I offer Dan Gross, the "humble narrator" of the gossip column. Once while I was on vacation, Gross was tasked with entering my home to feed Ashes. As he was putting the food dish on the floor one evening, Ashes darted in and bit him on the hand, drawing blood. Ashes literally bit the hand that fed him.
Given my relationship with Ashes - like North and South Korea we have an armed armistice, a suspicious civility - it's no surprise I haven't devoted any column inches to his shaggy self, even though I know many of you live with cats and love them.
Cats are America's favorite pet. There are 86 million owned in the United States, contrasted with 78 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association.
There's a saying that dogs have guardians, and cats have staff. If you live with a cat, you better accept the idea that you're a servant.
I break my silence on felines now with this column - and a book called Cats Are Supermodels. Think of it as Marley & Me, but for cats.
Ashes has a chapter, which the ingrate won't like. Illustrated by former Daily News cartoonist Brad Guigar, the book is faction - part fact, part fiction, part satire.
I see cats as high-fashion supermodels - beautiful, sleek, vain, self-centered, usually sleepy, always hungry but rarely willing to eat what is put before them. Unlike supermodels, cats don't substitute cigarettes, Champagne and cocaine for food.
Like supermodels, cats have their own priorities, and it is all about them. You've heard of service dogs. Have you ever heard of service cats? Case closed.
My publisher is Stu-niversity Press, and I hope I don't have to explain that. By category, the book is humor, by price, $10.95. (Go to catsaresupermodels.com. If you're not wired, you can send a check, add $2 for postage, to me at the Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107).
In the spirit of sharing, my pal and colleague John Baer also has a book out, On the Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: 25 Years of Keystone Reporting (The History Press), an irreverent but relevant review of political shenanigans.