Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Lousy Mouser

August 20

Until I started surfing blogs, I had no idea how obsessed people were about the appearance of their cats. I say that knowing full well that Snow is an extraordinarily beautiful creature, graceful and fascinating. Yes, you can see she has eyes of different colors, and is white from stem to stern. What you can't see from the picture is that she has the most ear-piercing miaow of any feline on the planet, and she is stone deaf. You can run a vacuum cleaner or other noisy machine right by her side and she doesn't flinch.

And she's a lousy mouser. The captain's house has been inhabited by the little guys for years, and when she spots one she hunches her back, hisses and growls. I've employed traps, glue pads, and exterminators -- and managed to eliminate a few, but I'll hear a gentle crash in the other room (usually the pantry, porch or kitchen), or I'll find little teeth marks in my homemade bread or in the soap in the dish, and I know the visitors are back. She will torment a cockroach or chameleon, stare vigilantly out the window at a bird, and get very excited when she spots a mouse, but so far they are safe from her wrath.

It would be nice to have an efficient cat to do the job for me -- at least of scaring them -- but Snow is more for decoration than anything else. She will follow me from room to room, and sit quietly on guard, and sometimes warn me when there are mice about. I am trying to learn to accept her for what she does, which is, as far as I can tell, nothing.


oldphilosopher said...

I once had a cat that could predict the future. He invented the Internet, designed my house, and could forecast the weather. I miss that animal -- but I wish he hadn't bothered with the Internet.

Bert Bananas said...

We have Snowball, whom one of my sons selected from a box of kittens 11 years ago, at a soccer field. She's a hairier version of your feline. We live in a semi-rural environment and field mice abound and had made their way into the house. She rid the house of the mice as if she'd been born to the task. But since your cat is deaf, it would be pointless to have my cat talk to your cat.

John Sweden said...

My cat caught and killed a bird the other morning, brought it into the house and laid the bloody body on the floor at my feet. My neighbor, one of those “animals are better than people”, people, told me “Look, isn’t she wonderful, she’s brought it as a gift for you, she’s looking up at you with such pride in her eyes, she’s waiting at you feet for your approval”. I said to her, “What! Are you… nuts!…. She wants me …. to cook it.” Just part of an old routine I used to do on cats, other pets and animal suicide.

Seeing the picture of Snow, reminds a little of Hester my first cat. She was a war orphan, left behind, along with my first apartment, by my best friend and his wife as they were forced to flee for their lives to the safety of Canada. I remember our first day as we cautuiously avoided and eyed other. She was very big, lean, white cat, which dazzeled me with a standing leap from the floor to the top of the kitchen cabinets. Both, shocked and impressed, as she looked down on me, I decided it would be wise to give her some space. We spent the rest of the day with her sizing me up and trying to determine if I was going to be allowed to stay. That night at about one o’clock I woke up to find her just sitting on the night table and staring at me with those two large yellow eyes and what I thought was an evil smile. I closed my eyes and dreamt of demons. Sometime during the night she made up her mind that I would be no trouble and assured that the house was hers, found her place to sleep at the bottom of the bed. Over the years she would come to take more than half that bed.

The next day I was making a turkey sandwhich when, faster than could imagine or react she leaped up and ripped a piece of sliced turkey directly from my hand. Then calmly with an arrogant air of that self-cat-assurance walked off the piece of my luch in her mouth. It would be the first of many shared meals, as the realities of the art/starvation equation would make it impossible to buy separate food for her. We really bonded during those hard times, sharing hot dogs, sphagetti and tuna fish. When I would sell a painting I would always buy some extra sliced Turkey to share with her. Even when times were good and catfood plentiful it was always expected that I would willingly share some of what I was eating with her. Which, I willingly did. Over the years we became good friends and she developed a wize old cat look in her eyes. I must admit I never did see any innocence in her eyes there always seemed, even when young, to be an ancient mind working behind them.

There were other cats “Jennifer” a little grey kitten that came by way of friend. She would drive Hester to distraction and more often than not would cause to loose her “cat cool”. Something I could never do. One of my best images of “Life” with a capital “L”, was Joey at the age of three wildly pushing a painted yellow cardboard box around the house with Jennifer as his willing passenger in the “Taxi from Hell”. Years later when Hester and Jennifer had moved on to cat heaven it would be “Phoebe” another white cat, who belonged to Joyous my roommate, that would charm me with a love for the uniqueness of cats. “The Phebes” as we used to call her was very wise and loved to play fetch with small balls of paper. I miss “The Phebes” and Joyous. It’s hard to separate them and be separated from them.

I have dog now, “Nellie”. She’s the dog of boyhood dreams and I love her. But she is a dog. There are nights and times when I need to look into the independent eyes of the ancient wisdom of cats.