Living with a Bit of Wild

IMG_4167                                                Time spent with cats is never wasted.                                                                Sigmund Freud

Living with cats is to live with a bit of wildness.  Our two cats  seem to like us ok, though one likes us much more than the other or at least shows it in a way that we can understand. 

Luna-tic sits on laps and loves to be petted. She looks you in the eye and rolls around to be noticed. She has long fur and seems to be at least part Maine Coon. Though her body is chunky, she never begs and has to be enticed to eat even one treat. As I type this, she sits on my lap, in my way, but I can’t bring myself to shove her off my legs. When I pet her, she sometimes bites my fingers—gently. Mostly she just acts happy. She is sort of a happy-go-lucky girl. I would not trust her outside as she would probably walk up to a coyote and say ‘let’s play!’, which would be disastrous for her health.   Luna-tic likes paper. If there is paper left on the floor or even on the table, she will choose to lay on that spot. Many times I have found shreds of paper—she likes to tear it up. We’ve learned not to leave important documents lying around.

Chico looks like he belongs to an Egyptian Pharaoh. His orange and white swirls are subtle but stunning. Though he is rail thin, he begs continually, sitting on the counter near the microwave, hoping I’ll open the refrigerator and get him some cat treats. Fred has been known to ‘accidentally’ drop pieces of cheese on the kitchen floor.  Chico is more aloof, more cat-like than Luna. He seems to be more out for himself. When cold, which is often, he lays in front of the fire. At night he curls up against Furnace Fred or even me sometimes. He will take a pet now and then—over time he has seemed to enjoy them more. He sometimes tries to sneak outside, and though he never goes far, we have to work to get him back in the house.

Neither cat is allowed outdoors: their safety and birds’ safety are paramount to us. As I see it, they have thrown their lot in with us, which makes us responsible for them. I could not live with myself if one of them were injured or killed due to my negligence. Nor could I live with myself if they killed birds. Mice are a different story. …

Last fall we had an especially bad run of mice, at the same time we noticed that we’d not heard coyotes howling in quite a while. (Some people shoot coyotes for recreation, for fun, just because—they may live in town and not feel the lack of mouse predators, but we sure do.) Chico helped keep the indoor mice to a minimum. I would wake at night hearing him streak through the house. In the morning there might be a small carcass. Living with a feline predator has its benefits.

Our cats are learning to travel—they seem to dislike the cat carrier, but once in the cage they are quiet, and when we let them out in the truck, they have learned to stay away from the driver’s feet. They learned quickly because they got tossed back in to the cat carrier when they tried to get down on the driver’s side floor. They hang out in their cat tree in the BAT (Big Ass Trailer), and snuggle for warmth at night in between midnight races along the length of the trailer.

I look in their eyes and I see wildness. Not the total wildness of a mountain lion but some vestige of wildness lingers still in their gaze, in their behavior. They have a foreignness to them that is hard to describe. Not everyone is comfortable with that strange other-ness. But me, I like their independence. I like the fact that they need minimal care, that they don’t want constant attention, that they don’t need us.I like knowing that thanks to Chico, any mouse that dares enter our house will be toast. I like Luna’s look-you-in-the-eye attitude.  I especially like the warmth they give… when they choose to give it.

I never thought I’d be a cat person, but I am. Heart and soul, hook, line and sinker.

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Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into            prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people.                             Andre Norton

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