I can't believe I am now a Cat Man. A Cat Man is the male version of a crazy Cat Lady, as opposed to Cat Woman, which is a woman who wears a really hot, black-leather outfit and has those sexy pointed ears. Some people think that Julie Newmar was the hottest Cat Woman. My money is on Eartha Kitt. True, she is no Wonder Woman. But she was the best Cat Woman.

I have nothing in common with either one of those Cat Women. My kinship resides with the crazy people with too many cats.

Growing up, we had dogs. Real dogs, not teacup or purse dogs. My brother now has a purse dog. He became a Purse Dog Man the same way I became a Cat Man, reluctantly. His wife and child went to run errands one day and came back with a small dog named Rosie. No one volunteers to walk Rosie, so every night my brother walks around the neighborhood looking very macho with Rosie.

My wife owned a cat when I met her. He was a fine cat named Stripes. He reluctantly accepted me, so we were nervous about bringing our newborn daughter, Caroline, home from the hospital. Stripes was pretty aggressive at times, but we needn't have worried. From the first days, Stripes sat next to the crib protecting both our daughters. Once, a big harmless neighbor dog came into our back yard where we were with our daughter. As he approached us, Stripes ran over and scratched the dog up pretty bad. About a half hour later, the dog came back. Stripes, still the family's bold protector, physically escorted the dog out. After Stripes died, my wife and daughters decided they wanted to "just look" at a litter of kittens a friend's cat had. When they were getting in the car to "look," I remember yelling "don't get one!" When they arrived home, they explained they did not get one. They got two.

"They are brothers; they can't be separated," they explained.

"Really, how can they be separated from the other six?"

"You're right. Do you want all eight?"

I reluctantly accepted the two. So for the last few years, we have had two six-toed cats to protect us. However, a new neighbor dog constantly gets into our discarded cat food cans in the recycle bin. Our cats just watch from the comfort of their perch by the window. They never lift a paw. They don't earn their keep. If they are not going to protect us, they could at least learn to play the piano, and we could get rich on YouTube.

We had a crisis recently. One of the cats had calcium crystals in his urinary tract. We spent all night at the animal hospital in Norwalk and we spent an obscene amount of money. I know you can't put a price on an animal's life, but I put a price on it, and it was a lot lower than Laura's, the girls', and the veterinarian's.

The vet said one of the contributing factors to the condition was stress. Our cats have stress, but they hide it well. Their little faces look very content as they lounge about on the windowsill. Sometimes they have to get up and follow the sun from one window to the next.

When I was little, our favorite dog was Bootsy. Bootsy was a black "Old Yeller" type dog. We lived in a very rural area. Occasionally we would be walking or skiing and would be confronted by a large animal. Bootsy always put herself between the animal and us. When we would sled down the hill, Bootsy felt often that we were going too fast for safety and would gently bite our steering hands to try to try to stop us.

Bootsy was an outdoor dog. Bootsy never had had to be shooed off the table. Bootsy never had stress crystals.

I miss Bootsy. I miss Stripes.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at: tlawlor@mcommunications.com.