Samie Hartley's Simple & Sassy in the Napa Valley: Love stinks (and that's OK) – Napa Valley Register

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Samie Hartley
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s weird.
Most people put their soiled gym clothes in the laundry basket after they’ve been worn and scented with sweat.
No, not me. When I get home, I take my gym clothes out of my bag and carefully drape them on the edge of my bed. I arrange my dirty laundry into a nest, and then I step back and wait.
The wait is never long. Chase, my sassy tortoiseshell feline, is typically nearby, observing me from a safe distance. Once I’ve made the cradle of smelly clothes, Chase leaps onto my bed and inspects the offering. Chase loves dirty clothes — the sweatier and stinker the better. Used gym clothes are her favorite.
She flops onto my workout gear and aggressively rubs her face over the fabric. She gathers my discards between her paws and presses her face into them as if smelling a bouquet of spring flowers. She purrs happily as she rolls over the offerings – signaling her approval.
My other cat Tigger is the complete opposite. He prefers freshly washed clothes. He loves to snuggle with a hoodie straight out of the dryer. It makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to envelop themselves in warm fluffy cotton? But I think he really does it because he knows the clothes are free of cat hair, and I’m not allowed to leave the house without at least a base coat of his Creamsicle fur.
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While Chase wants to smell like me, Tigger wants me to smell like him. As soon as I step out of the shower, he’s rubbing up against my legs, marking me up with his scent. He chatters as he caresses my limbs as if to ask “Why do you insist on bathing? Olay is no match for kitty coverage.”
My cats’ habits may seem weird, but they really aren’t that strange. A cat’s sense of smell is significantly more acute than a human’s. A quick Google search revealed that a cat’s sense of smell is 4-, 14- and 40-times stronger (at least each answer includes the number four even if the results are inconclusive) – so it’s a lot. Cats use smell to identify food, friends and foes.
The smell of an owner can provide a sense of comfort, so while Chase’s routine seems gross to me, she’s taking part in a primal bounding ritual that is beyond my understanding.
She attempts to reciprocate, but her way of returning the favor is to plant her rear right below my nose. I’ve gone nose blind at this point because I’m so used to her sashaying her butt in my face whenever the moment presents itself – Zoom meetings for work as her preferred times to remind me of her personal perfumes.
Having the sweaty gym clothes to offer her is a new development. After years of neglecting my physical fitness, I finally decided to make a true commitment. I’m still taking it slow though. I only work out twice a week, so on the days when I don’t have dirty gym clothes to offer Chase, I rely on the old standby: crisp morning breath.
Ever since she was a kitten, Chase likes to begin her mornings by stalking across the bed and crawling over my chest. She slowly lowers her face toward mine. I could offer a greeting, but words are unnecessary. All I have to do is part my lips slightly so that she can sniff the corners of my mouth.
I feel her whiskers tickle my face as she breathes in the odor. The reaction is always the same. She pulls away – her mouth agape as she tries to process all the intense olfactory stimuli. It looks as if she’s grossed out, but then she begins to purr. It’s not gross at all – it’s just love.
Because of their evolutionary ancestry, domestic cats are, by their nature, independent. However, the secret of whether your cat feels bonded to you lies in their behavior.
“Bosco loves spending time in the garden, playing with his bestfriend next door and eating!”
Marisol Simpson, Napa
“These are our cats Litten (left) and Talon (right). They are the sweetest boys. Talon loves to flop and get pets, while Litten only allows pets on his own terms. We love them both and are so happy to have spent the last 4 years with them!”
Laura Contreras Modic, American Canyon
Adventure on the road
Devon Avery, Yountville
Jackson was found crawling across Highway 29 at just 2 weeks old by a Napa County Sheriff’s deputy back in 2020, and we were lucky enough to adopt him from the Napa County Animal Shelter. His favorite toys are wine corks! He loves to roll them along the floor and bring them to me to play fetch with him.
Shannon McLaren, Napa
Gwelfa is the princess of the house. She will be 13 years old on the eighth of August.
Jean Williams, Calistoga
2 years old and rules the house. Loves to play fetch!
Denise Johnson, St. Helena
Brothers adopted via Whiskers Tails and Ferals.
Julianna Hart, Napa
Oreo is part cat and part pretzel.
Pat Paris, Napa
Finnick is a 3-year-old domestic long-hair kitty who was abandoned by his momma as a kitten in a big barn full of horses. His best friends are a chiweenie and a doberman. He loves to play with his ball track toys and loves to bring presents home to his momma – gloves, socks, and anything else he can find.
Angie Markle, Napa
These adorable brothers are inseparable. One has a smile on his back, and the other has a storm cloud with a little white puff in the middle.
Connie Max, Napa
My muse. She is a wonderful companion who stays near all day; a soft Lynk Point Siamese.
Sharon Dellamonica, St. Helena
Shown here wearing his Bespoke Tux!
Lynn Wood, Napa
Hiding out in Napa.
Brent Edwards, Napa
Teeny Tiny Kitty
Andriana Colombo
Luna was a rescue at 4 weeks old. Four weeks later, she’s made herself pretty comfortable.
Laura Lehman
Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at
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Napa Register Online Editor
Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor and social media manager. She also assembles the community calendar. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.
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Good morning and welcome to our Corner.
Samie Hartley
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