Filo & Cheng - 'The Odd Couple'... A True Short Story

Cats are highly sensitive creatures that view everything in their world rather seriously. Rebuffs are taken personally as they have feelings that can be hurt. Still waters run deep, and our feline friends are perceptive to significant changes in the household. My son and daughter-in-law have two fascinating cats, Filo and Cheng. Several weeks ago, my first grandchild was born. Her name is Charlotte – Charlie is her nickname –a beautiful angel who instantly captures the heart. What follows is an interesting story about the change in the relationship dynamics of Filo and Cheng when sweet Charlie arrived.

Cheng is a stunning Siamese that doesn’t realize who or what he is, having missed cat orientation somewhere along the line. His personality is an endearing combination of ET and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He seems to be lost on a perpetual high, or the victim of a reincarnation that somehow went terribly awry. One of the gentlest creatures on this planet, he has the round, expressive eyes of a baby seal. (I just love this little fellow.)

Cheng maneuvers through cat-world the way we would the Twilight Zone. For example, there was the time he caught his head between the spokes of the stair railing and couldn’t figure out how to dislodge it. Although Cheng is nearly 6, he’s still trying to navigate his kitty litter box. He gingerly places his feet inside the box while searching in panic mode for the right position. Unfortunately, his little butt often ends up dangling over the side. (You can guess the end result.)

Cheng is also timid of any form of human contact and avoids visitors like the plague. On the rare occasion he enters a room with people, it’s by sheer accident. When he realizes his mistake, he hugs the wall like a diminutive fawn whose eyes are caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. He sometimes bumps into the furniture because his attention is too focused on the room’s occupants as he frantically searches for an escape.

Filo is older and the antithesis of Cheng. He is a beautiful, slender tabby with a ginger-colored coat and stealth-like stare that is distinctly cat. He’s never experienced an identity crisis and is the consummate alpha -- very smart and a tad unpredictable. One of his favorite 'get-the-guest' ploys was to lie in wait outside a closed bedroom or bathroom door. Whenever house guests opened the door, they’d look down to see Filo, glaring upward in a crouched, ready to pounce position as if he were channeling Scar from The Lion King. We’d fully expect to hear Jeremy Iron’s velvet, menacing voice-over: “Going myyyy way?” To be fair, Filo has mellowed over the past couple of years.

My son’s home is unmistakably Filo’s turf, and my daughter-in-law is his beloved mistress. He adores her and she loves him, dearly. in return. Unlike Cheng, Filo enters a room with confidence and purpose. Despite repeated coaxing, he ignores all guests – not out of fear, but rather out of indifference. He’ll perch on the back of the living room sofa, poker-faced, as he surveys the human trespassers to his domain.

Filo gamely tolerates Cheng as his subjugated, feline companion. His attitude toward his buddy usually sways between acceptance and disdain or pity. With Cheng, it’s more like, “Hey…that’s cool; you’re my size, walk on four legs and have fur, so I guess there’s safety in numbers.” Although they never fight, these two have definitely taken ‘The Odd Couple’ to new a new dimension.

When my son and daughter-in-law brought darling Charlie home from the hospital, much of what I have described about Filo-Cheng World shifted dramatically. Cheng calmly walked into the living room where we were all seated. Without an ounce of fear, he walked over to my daughter-in-law who was nursing Charlie at the time. He sat directly in front of them and looked up, mesmerized with gentle awe, love and respect. To our added amazement, he also demonstrated affection to us by making body contact and stroking our legs. To this day, he continues to worship Charlie…he clearly loves her.

Filo intentionally ignored Charlie as well as his beloved mistress in spite of her loving attempts to cajole and persuade. Instead, he approached the family guests he had previously snubbed, and began to lick their hands with the cool aplomb of a feline Machiavelli. Six weeks have since passed and, sadly, the ice still hasn’t broken with Filo. Hopefully, spring will bring the welcomed thaw.

Transformations, jealousy, misunderstandings, and sensitivity are not confined to the human world. I am still convinced that animals are amazing teachers and often smarter than people. At the very least, they help to expand our consciousness.

Copyright © 2013 Genna East All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 59 comments

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Hi Genna--what a great story--I think I am a little in love with Cheng!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Judging from many people I see on the streets, you may be right that animals are smarter than people. :) Great story, Genna!

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a fascinating story, Genna. You are an outstanding tale-teller. I feel like I know Cheng and Filo intimately due to your skill in recounting their foibles and personalities.

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

I have two cats so I dearly loved this charming encounter. I also feel like these are cats Iwould like Elwood and Sammie to mee...My boys.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great story, Genna! Up and across the board.

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Beautiful story, Genna, your writing is superb! Is Filo jealous of Charlie? or the attention your daughter-in-law is showing to Charlie? This is a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

Maya 3 years ago

Oh Genna this is very insightful and very funny. ‘ET and Keith Richards.’ Ha-ha! Cheng reminds me a little of my own cat. What a sweetheart. Great story and I hope Filo soon sees the light. Maybe it’s Filo that now needs to get the message re cat orientation: Unconditional love.

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. Your love shines through in the telling of this story.

GEOFFREY RIOBA profile image


i live in Africa animals to many are not worth to give the best , what can we do to make some Africans to love their animals and treat them fairly.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

What a beautiful story ;thank you so much for sharing Genna. Enjoy your day.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

You write with visceral charm and love, Genna, in describing both diametrically different critters, grabbing and delighting me with Cheng being "an endearing combination of ET and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones". Once upon a time, when I was young, before I had my one and only child, a daughter named Megan, I had a Lhasa Aspo, named Kutya (Hungarian for dog). Kutya was about 6 years old when I brought Megan home. He was a very quiet, reserved dog. For the first few days after Megan's homecoming, every time she cried, Kutya vomited. I had to send my husband, Megan's dad, to the vet with Kutya. He suffered so much anxiety that he had to take tranquilizers for a brief time during his rude awakening. Kutya showed no animosity or jealousy towards Megan (though I can't say the same for Megan when she was a toddler). I believe Kutya was anxious as he feared being displaced as the only 'baby' in the family. However, he soon learned that my love for him would never change. I had plenty to go around.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful family story, Genna, as it also brought back fond, loving, sometimes funny, memories for me. Animals thrive by their instincts. They are profoundly focused, using the powers of their intuitive understanding and knowing to adapt, sometimes far better than humans.

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Thanks for sharing this delightful story. Poor Filo I'm sure that he'll come around in time. Passing this on.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

Great story Genna written in your usual splendid form. Hope springs eternal and this is the first day of spring!

The Frog Prince

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is such an adorable story!! I loved the way you described their personalities. I could visually see Filo with his turned up nose, so cute...

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Audrey Howitt

Thank you, Audrey! :-) I just love this little guy.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Billy. Sadly, the number of stray pets has increased as well. People can’t afford them, so they leave them somewhere in the country or on the streets. Both homeless scenarios - people and pets - break my heart. Thanks for commenting.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi. What a nice thing to say…exactly what a writer wants to hear. Thank you or that thoughtful and wonderful compliment, and for taking the time to read this story. It was fun to write. Have a good week. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Carol. These little critters are so much fun to write about; I love watching their personalities and interactions with people. I know your “boys” give you much delight and fun. Thanks for stopping by, and for the very nice comment. Cheers. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Will, and thank you! I have to give the credit to Filo and Cheng; these guys are cool little actors in their own world, and provide plenty of material to write about. Good to see you. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Mara. Good question. Filo has had his world turned upside down…well, at least from his perspective. My daughter-in-law always holds and cuddles him when she gets home from work, and her job causes her to travel quite a bit – so does my son's. I think Cheng’s change in attitude plays a big part as well. Filo is the older alpha, and he’s not happy with all of these adjustments. Thanks for those wonderful comments! :-)


Hugs my friend. Thanks for those cute comments. I’m not as sure about Filo; my son tells my things are taking quite awhile to warm up. From Filo’s point of view, the unconditional love was from my daughter-in-law as well. Now, a significant share of her attention is given to Charlie. Have a great week, Maya. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Martin. Thank you for that very kind and perceptive comment. Cheers.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hello my friend. Thank you for your thoughtful and endearing comments…I’m pleased this story brought back good memories for you. I love that name, Kutya. Lhasa Apso’s are wonderful. Weren’t they Tibetan originally? I have read that some dogs become very concerned about newborns -- not out of jealousy necessarily but out of a deep caring and worry for them. In a way, babies are a human extension of their owners. I so agree about the instincts of animals…they listen to theirs far more than we do ours. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Rasma…it’s always good to see you. Thank you for your comments. I hope that Filo realizes that he’s just being stubborn and that love will always be there for him.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@TheFrog Prince

Hi there. Thank you, sweet prince. Yes, spring has promised to turn up soon! Mother Nature needs to check the calendar this morning…we’ve had snow and freezing temps for days now. Brrrr. Have a wonderful day. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi Ruby and hugs. :-) Thank you. I had fun writing about this guys…they have taken funny and cool to new dimensions. My son told me a story last night over the phone that sounded as if they had both participated in a kind of slo-mo kung fu contest…rather like Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in ‘The Matrix.’ (Lol.) Have a great week, Ruby.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 3 years ago

Oh dear me Miss Genna of Gorgeous writing ability - what a lovely lovely story as you know my two best friends are Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel. This is the ultimate cat hub story of all time for me with your usual trademark writing which leaves me breathless and great lines that

'he' was a combination of Keith Richards and ET (now that's an Epi line if I ever heard/read one, lol)

I sincerely hope all is well with you these days my esteemed colleague and hub friend.

Please check out my reply if you can on my Attila the Hub piece and Colin and his cats are sending you warm wishes from lake erie time ontario canada 9:52pm

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Genna this was actually a very good read voted up and awesome :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Aw that was lovely! Cheng was amazing, but it doesn't surprise me, animals just never fail to amaze me, a great story, and voted up! nell

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

What a sweet story about friendship and loyalty. Love that puppy adoration.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I could read your stories all day long. While I'm not a cat lover I did have one for 16 years so I perfectly understand everything you've said. I chuckled at Cheng's bummy hanging over the litter box and oohed and aahed over his reaction to Charlie. If I haven't said so before, congratulations Grandma...and this is a lovely tail of two kitties!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

lovely story!! wonderful genna.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi dear Colin. I’m always honored to see one of your comments. Cats are wonderful little critters to write about…so much fun as you probably know. :-) These two are so adorable, they made this story easy and a delight to write. I saw your comment on your terrific Attila piece. Thank you! Hugs.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 3 years ago

3 big Canadian hugs from Colin, Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel.

lake erie time 5:00pm

'They' sense that spring is in the air ......

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Frank Atanacio

Thank you, Frank. Such a nice comment coming from one of my favorite short story writers is quite a compliment.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Nell Rose

Thank you Nell! :-) They are their own players on their own stage, and such fun to watch. Cheers.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Thank you, Dianna. I think we could learn a lot from our feline and canine friends. Have a great day. :-)

@ Tillsontitan

Thank you, Mary. You always write such heart-warming and encouraging comments; it’s always a delight to see you. And I love that Grandma comment too! Hugs.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Unknown Spy

Thank you, Myz!


And hugs to you, Miss Tiffy and Mr. Gabriel and too! It snowed again here last night; but spring just might be peaking around the corner.

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 3 years ago

A Wonderful Story, Gina...."Charlie" will bring the Fun and Harmony, that neither cat will be able to resist...Babies have a way of doing that. Thanks for sharing and making me SMILE...Mixing Animals and Baby stories are the way to my Heart!

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Barb. And I think you're right about Charlie...she has already worked wonders with Cheng. Good to see you my friend. :-)

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Your story has such a natural easy flow about it. The dynamics will change and Filo & Cheng will find their new place in this loving, caring environment. I dropped this off over at Facebook so a few more people have a chance to drop by and enjoy your story.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hello Mike!

So good to see you! :-) My sincere apologies for not responding sooner, but we’ve only gotten back to Boston from taking some vacation, and things are very bizarre here in this city right now.

Thank you for the facebook mention, and for you're always kind and encouraging comments. Hope things are well with you. I have a lot of catching up to do. :-)

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I hope Filo has adapted by now, of course he felt wounded since his alpha spot was replaced and Cheng, who was shy, suddenly loves people because he discovered this helpless, lovable human. Adorable story! Amazing how pets run the gamut of emotions... just like we do! :)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Scrib. Filo is warming up but very slowly. Cheng is, and always will be, Charlie's, but she doesn't know it yet. It is amazing how the emotions of our darling critters often parallel our own. Thanks for the comment. :-)

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

Great description, Genna, of the felines of the household. What a sweet transformation of Cheng! We have a tabby, also, and I can just imagine the way Filo has now snubbed the new addition-perhaps feeling pushed off his pedestal?

Sweet story-UP/I

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Denise. This story was fun to write. Yes, Filo was king of the roost, so to speak. He has warmed up a bit, but does little more than tolerate Charlie. Thank for those nice comments and vote.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Such a beautiful story and very well written. My cat is 18 so I am a cat lover you might say and she certainly is far from perfect. Thankfully I have not had that many years of litter boxes though since she is indoor/outdoor and faces the fiercest storm to have her privacy, lol.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Jackie. 18? Oh my goodness… that is wonderful! Our calico (Miss Callie), is only 12, but she is so small; we call her Diva Peanut as a nickname. She is too little to let outside, so we have the litter box. Thanks so much for the visit and lovely comments.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

What a fun story to read, Genna. You've expertly described the different personalities of the two cats in the household, and the interesting changes that took place with a new addition to the human family. It's so amazing that every pet seems to have a distinct personality.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Peg. They really people. I appreciate the visit, and the comments, Peg. It's good to see you. I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I loved your beautiful descriptions of their personalities. I hope they have adjusted well to that baby by now. I also appreciate cats as the gods in fur coats that they are. Voted up and more, and shared.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Genna.....How superbly you shared this delightful Kitty-Tale with your readers......Where ever a cat....I am there too. Have never been without at least one, usually 2, for as long as I can remember.

These 2 cats are definitely 2 I would love to meet. In fact, because of your marvelous story-telling talent....I feel I know them intimately.

Only another cat-lover can truly grasp the reality of their intricate personalities....and how true it is that each and every individual kitty has it's own unique persona.....(No one dares ever suggest to me that cats are not people!) LOL

This is fate! Just the other day I explained to my crazy self not to go to the Cat shelter...."No no no.....stay away, Paula!" There is no such thing as going to "look" at the kitty orphans. I look, I hold it and share a cuddle and that's's going home with Mommy. So now, I'm not so sure I want to talk myself out of it.....Oh Genna, look what you've done!......Up++++ tweeted, pinned & googled.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

OH !!! You have a new granddaughter...and all I talked about was cats!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am positive "Charlie" is a perfect, precious Angel! Being a Grandmother has to be like being in Heaven. I have 12...and one great grand daughter! It just never ever gets old!

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Lybrah 2 years ago

So adorable! Very well written and entertaining hub.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Flourish Anyway

The suave ‘Mr. Cool’ of the Pink Panther in the video reminds me of Filo. Yes, they have adjusted to darling Charlotte (Charlie), and a new dog, Bentley ,has been added to the family. All is well. Thank you so much for the visit and comments. I hope you are enjoying your Sunday. :-)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author


Hi there. 12 grandchildren and a great grandchild? Oh my goodness…you have been blessed! :-)

Filo and Cheng are irresistible story characters…they are unique and so adorable, each in their own way. As with other wonderful pets, I swear there are little people inside of them somewhere. My cat, Miss Callie, has many expressions with her eyes. Everything from a soulful, “Pick me up, please, I need a hug,” to the more disdainful, “You honestly think I’m going to get into that little pet carrier so you can take me to that vet? Guess again.”

Any trip to visit those adorable kitty-orphans is bound to end with a new family member. I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for much for the delightful visit and comments! :-)


Thank you! They were a delight to write about. :-)

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

beautiful story, are filo and cheng your kitties? You are great at describing their characters

Genna East profile image

Genna East 18 months ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Peach. No they belong to my son and daughter-in law. :-)

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 9 months ago from the short journey

Thanks for an entertaining post! To really understand that life is constant change I believe one must own and love a cat or two. These two are delightful. I'm sure you have enjoyed seeing Charlie grow up with these two personalities! It is always fun and interesting to see animal personalities (especially cats), whether in real life or in writing. :)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 9 months ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

The two little fellas were such fun to write about. Our pets are living adorable and each one, unique. Charlie has taken a shine to Filo, and vice versa. It's funny how things change over time. Thanks so much for the visit and comment.

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