Sunday, February 19, 2012


As anyone with pets knows, your furfriends are a vibrant part of your household. At least, that's the way it should be when one has pets. And, it runs true in my household.

Phoebe is the only cat we've ever had where we've known her exact birthday. She was simply born in a farmhouse that had multiple cats, dogs, and birds. Her mother was one of the indoor/outdoor cats, and the human adults in the house figured they had enough indoor/outdoor cats, so advertised at my veterinarian's office that they had kittens to give away to good homes.

We had recently lost a little barn cat, Sparky, who had followed us home on one of our walks about the neighbourhood. She and Grace, our other cat, had become great friends. After Sparky died, Grace felt very sad, and we thought getting another cat might help.

I can now see how shortsighted that is. It's like saying because a human lost a loved one that getting another human as a replacement will make things easier. There's no guarantee that the new human will get along well with the remaining one and vice-versa.

At any rate, that's how Phoebe came to live with us. She had come from a household full of animals and love. She has never known cruelty or deprivation. Yet, she complains more than any other cat we've had in the household. She has a high pitched meow that any first soprano would envy. She has decided that her job in the household is to announce things. Things that we seemingly blind humans overlook.

Such as:

  1. There are floating objects in the water bowl. We know Jo [other cat in the household] has done this, she does it nearly every day, and sometimes twice a day. The water is now besmirched and must be changed. Immediately. Never mind that drinking from the mud puddle after a long rain has floaty things in it, and is perfectly acceptable. That is Outside Drinking Water. This is Inside Drinking Water. Why can't humans grasp this?

  2. The dry food dish supply is dangerously low. There's only the thinnest layer of kibble covering the bottom, and starvation is imminent if this is not replenished ASAP. Chop, chop!

  3. It's time for wet food. You have clocks all over the place, you stare at that screen for hours on end, and it also has a clock. It makes little noises sometimes when you have to talk on the phone for teleconferences. How can you, with so many clocks, not realize IT'S TIME FOR WET FOOD? Yes, i know the kibble bowl is full, but now is not the time for kibble. IT'S TIME FOR WET FOOD.

  4. The litter box needs attention. I have done my best to create the smelliest poops, I make quite a production of scratching the upper sides of the covered litter box so that everyone knows *I* am in the box and am now done, how can you not smell that it's time to scoop at the least or change things out at most? Is your human sense of smell truly so dismal? What a bleak life that must be, one without odorama.

  5. It's time to make the bed. I know you didn't make it this morning because you washed the sheets, and you brought them inside to let them dry the rest of the way. The room smells nice and outsidey, but the sheets belong on the bed. Now. Otherwise, you'll wait too long, it will be past your bedtime, and you won't feel like making the bed. You know I prefer sleeping on a made bed. Make it so.

  6. It's time for bed. You know how cranky you get when you stay up too late. Well, you're all right with the late part, but next morning, when the alarm goes off (yet another clock), you do NOT get up. I, and I condescend to say, even JoJo, could be starving. STARVING. We'll not have had wet food since supper the night before. After Grace left, I thought I could meow you awake, but after three times of hearing you yell first thing, I realize that this is akin to poking the dragon with a stick. So. You MUST heed me. Come to bed on time, so tomorrow morning, you'll find it easier to get up. And feed me.

Those are the meows I've worked out, although there are still a few that baffle me. Like the ones where she stares holes in me, i look at her, she meows, i go to pet her, and she walks away. I consider these the pay-attention-to-me-so-I-can-ignore-you meows. Or, i go to her, start to pet her, and she growls. As if it took me too long to respond, or she's sorely disappointed with my lack of mindreading skills.

I guess she considers me her project, and she's not going to give up on me. I'm glad of it because for all of her bossing around, i do love her, and she does love me. I know this because she has rewarded me with gifts of mice, a shrew, either a very large mouse or small rat, chipmunks, and a bat. Since i tend to scream at these gifts, especially if they're still moving, she's worked out that it's best to let me know they're fresh kills. As she did when she playfully tossed the shrew against the dining room wall. Several times, and hard. Or when she lay curled up on the guest bed with a mouse. His body close by hers, and his head a bit farther away, just below the pillow. Two easy pieces, and all there, so no need to worry about stepping on some errant part.

She also understands her part in being the cellar sentinel and goes down cellar nearly every day on the prowl. The old place didn't have any holes in the basement, so nothing except silverfish, spiders, or crickets got in, but this place, with its stone foundation, has numerous holes, despite the humans plugging up what they could. The indoor hunting option is most appreciated, especially during the cold months, which seem more numerous and colder than at the other place. Munching on a mouse in the comfort of a mostly dry cellar is the height of luxury when it's 10 below outside, and the snow looms high.

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