Sunday, November 01, 2009

Littlest Cat, The Father of Cats, Happy Birthday

The Slinker being both elderly (19!) and tiny, she cannot get back onto my desk by herself. Since both of my cats spend most of their time on my desk, this presents a problem for her.

One of her solutions is a plaintive cry, a one-syllable "Eneyr" that seems to be her version of "up." She uses that one on Tam a lot.

For me, she has a cuter trick. Mornings, I shamble around with a warm bathrobe over my jammies, staring blankly at The Innertoobes until I have had enough coffee to consider operating a shower. This means the hem of my robe is down around Very Small Cat level, so when she wants my attention, she does much as other small dependents do: she yanks on my robe and looks up with huge, soulful eyes.

It has, as you might imagine, a very high success rate.

Here's the interesting part: she's been declawed since she and her late Aunt Janie got into the habit of having vicious knife fights when she was about a year old and Janie was two. So how does she get enough grip to tug on my robe? She manages with one paw; it's not quite as strong as a toddler yanking at your skirt but it's close enough.

Halloween is the unofficial birthday of my mostly-black cats. Tommy (and sisters Jane, Charlotte and Emily) was born in late October (their mother, a feral cat I named Missy who'd decided to move indoors, fetched me to attend at their birth; possibly with good reason, since she skipped out as soon as they were weaned), and The Slinker is from one of two litters born to Emily and Charlotte about a year later. Emily and Charlotte were more traditional about the process than their mother had been, picking a safe, warm place (I lost two quilts in rapid succession!), then moving the litters to a nearly-inaccessible spot under my bed and raising the kits as one big pack; when they came wandering out weeks later, I suddenly had a dozen cats in a 400-square-foot apartment! I found mothers and kits temporary employment as rodent control technicians at the Skunk Works North Campus and eventually managed to outplace all but the very wildest and most shy of the lot, The Slinker; at that point, she moved like a little weasel, fast, furtive and low to the ground. When I finally caught her, she squalled like a wild thing, bit my (gloved) hands and soiled herself. Interestingly, it only took one night indoors, with a litter box and no need to give possums and worse the right of way at the water dish to remind her how much better life indoors indoors could be. She and Tommy made up right away; Janie never quite trusted her and with reason, as Slinky is full of mischief; she would lull her Aunt to sleep, grooming her, washing her ears and then, just as Janie dozed off, bit her on the ear!

Tommy and Janie stayed with me. Janie was a crazy-cat, prone to leaping to the top of my bookshelves, about 6' tall, racing around the room at that level, and dropping to my bed -- she seemed to enjoy it most if I was on the bed at the time. There is something...bracing?...about hearing a mad scramble and looking up a see a black cat with bright white whiskers, eyes wide, plummeting down to land right beside your head! Tommy (sometimes known as Father Of Cats, since after all, he was) has always been a traditional tomcat; where Janie would play wildly with realistic toy mice (especially before she was declawed), Tommy was fond of foam-rubber balls; after I moved to a house with a stairway, he would carry them to the top, drop them and chase them back down, with frequent, happy-sounding cries of "'all! 'all!" In recent years, he's given up the hobby; he moves stiffly and more slowly and his eyesight isn't as keen. Janie's been gone nearly five years now and I still miss her. All three cats were (and the remaining two occasionally still are) inveterate thwarters of string -- trail a shoelace in front of them and it will be attacked!

Tommy and Slinky are napping behind the monitor as I write this. Happy birthday, cats!


Shermlock Shomes said...

One of the Bast stories you've written about the cats! ;)

Home on the Range said...

I am a dog person, but your cats are just awesome. May they enjoy more birthdays among the books.

og said...

Happy cat birthday!

I'm a dog person too, and considered cats dinner until the wife arrived from Canada with Cooney, the retarded one. He taught me not to eat, or even to hate cats, and while I'll never be a cat person I'll at least consider them more friends than enemas.

As for the cat lifting, you might consider a 1x6 covered with indoor/outdoor carpet with one end on the desk and the other on the floor. A piece the width of the desk, say five or six feet, ought to be simple for the cat to negotiate. Mom did this when her dachshound became elderly.

WV:Pabrosse. A french cat ramp.

Tango Juliet said...

Cats. So much trouble... so much fun.

Turk Turon said...

I agree with Shomes; one of your very best posts about your cats.

Mark Alger said...

Oo! Foam rubber balls. Our Belle loves them. Does that same trick with the stairs. Result: we get bombarded as we sit watching TV.

Just yesterday, I was astonished to see her ears flick up from behind the coffee table as she tossed a ball in the air, then her paw came up, to spike it with all the aplomb of Misty Walsh, taking it to the net in Beijing.


Anonymous said...

An enjoyable read........after early years of many cats, dogs and other "pets" with the kids we are down to one old, rescued from a shelter, male cat named "Hey You"....many stories...

"If that cat could talk, what tales he'd tell,
About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well.
But the cat was cool,
And he never said a mumblin' word."

Hoyt Axton - Della and the dealer