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December 29, 1994

The Republicans have won control of Congress for the first time in several decades and wonderful things are expected of them. We are hearing their proposals for reducing the size of government and other ideas to ease the burden on all of us poor taxpayers. More power to them. But here's a word of warning: Let's be vigilant as this process unfolds.

In their zestful pursuit of economy, one of the early ideas put forth was a resolution to eliminate traditional "commemorative" legislation. What is that? And well you may ask. That means there will be no more National Biomedical Research Days, National Random Acts of Kindness Weeks or National Trauma Awareness Months. House GOP members claim the constituent goodwill such things generated was not worth the time and money./p>

Designating days, weeks and months for events or causes enables groups and organizations to get publicity for issues of importance to them. Getting rid of the service would save about $300,000 a year and give Congress more time to devote to the issues in the Republicans' Contract With America, they say.

All well and good, so far. But hold everything - it's OK to do away with National Pickle Week, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Scleroderma Awareness Month, and some of those others, but here's a question I haven't heard addressed yet: What are they going to do about National Cat Week? This has been traditionally celebrated the second week of November for many years, although you may never have heard of it. That is because, as most of us know, the world is divided into two types of people: Those who love cats and those who don't.

Now, at your house, National Cat Week might not mean anything, but our family has had a procession of feline boarders for as far back as any of us can remember, and we know about National Cat Week. Ironically, right now we are in a sort of state or remission, meaning no cats are with us at this time. Our last one, Checkers, lived with us for more than 19 years until an unfortunate car mishap brought about her demise. We still intend to adopt another young one someday and to raise it from kittenhood, but so far the time just hasn't been right for taking that step.

Our two daughters also are cat lovers, having been brought up in the midst of them, but unfortunately one of the girls has learned she is allergic to cat hair and the other has three dogs who pretty well monopolize all the time she can give to pets right now. So even though none of us has a cat at present we still count ourselves among the lovers of those soft, cuddly, adorable little creatures. (Some of ours haven't always fit that description 100 percent, but who among us is perfect, anyway?)

Cats have helped us form a frame of reference. We establish a period of time by associating it with one of our former pets, such as, "Oh, yes, that happened when we had Checkers." Just by substituting one of a dozen or more names - Tige, Tom, Jerry, Smoky, Cinnamon, etc. - we could readily take you to a point in time. Most of our cats also had middle names, like Checkers Lynn. We usually used only the first name except in times of complete exasperation, such as when one of them got uppity at mealtime or refused to tolerate being petted.

I mention this only because it brings up the point that we cannot stand idly by while Congress, even a Republican one, starts tampering with the things we hold dear. I don't know how this particular issue is going to wind up, but you can bet we'll stay in close touch with our delegation up there on the Potomac. In the meantime, make sure your ox isn't being gored.