Teaching my cat to do dog tricks
I have been trying to get to this blog for ages… looks it’s been years at this point. Where does the time go? (when senility begins…)
For Angie, who didn’t believe me.
Gosh, I never think, when filming Cecil, about how what I say to him is going to be part of what I post. Cringing…]
Cecil was a feral stray cat when he first appeared at Karen’s informal Cat Sanctuary, an ad hoc thing, which began with feeding a few strays and grew over the years to include a little house that Emery built — a veritable Cat Hotel — with rooms for 5 cats. It is a little house with a pitched roof (for the snow) with doors cut out of the front as circles like with a huge drill, and heavy plastic flaps covering each door for warmth and drafts. Inside each bedroom is a little comforter for each room and a light bulb for heat. As winter gets colder and colder, each cat’s room gets a brighter bulb — I wonder if the cats thus think of light as warmth, with the light bulbs as little bits of sun and being what most animals likely think of as warmth, and the dark nights being about their worst endurance?
Anywho, then she started wrapping tarps around the beam of the porch so snow could not get to their cat house and to keep out the winter winds. The cats get two meals of moist food per day, with each cat getting a separate dish. The meals are carried out on plastic lunch trays and arrayed on the ground strategically; some dishes are placed far away from the bulk of the food dishes, for the more shy cats, which the more aggressive cats (like Cecil) will move on to upon finishing their dishes.
Karen also washes all the twee comforters once a week and refreshes the unlimited dry and water daily, which the raccoon family also uses as dinner trough, water, and bathtub, respectively and in that order. I have seen this, and melted. Raccoon babies are CUTE! But, though I want to hug them, we stamp our feet and make loud noises if we happen to be on the porch when they come, so they will not mistakenly learn to trust humans, because not all humans have food on their decks in order to feed them.
About the day Cecil arrived Karen says, “We never thought he would make it. We have had some cats show up in really bad shape, but he was torn to bits and was just skin and bones. He looked like a pack of something had gotten a hold of him.” Indeed, a few of his scars are visible to this day, in this video. The first time I saw Cecil, from inside the kitchen, I said, “Who is the new cat? He is the ugliest cat I have ever seen.”, for he looked all puffy in the cheeks, and mean, and all cocky like the mean alley cat in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. He looked mean in a cartoon way. He sat on the deck right outside the door and every time I, or anyone, went in or out, his paws started flying and he always ended up tangled in one’s socks, if one were lucky enough to be wearing socks, else he became tangled in ankle skin. He was a scrapper. And he had a huge pair. He would chase off the weaker cats and also chase any animal, of any size. I now think he was overcompensating out of fear. back then i thought he needed to be fixed, due to that huge pair, and that he had just gotten both used to andf sick of fending for his life in the scary outdoors.
Karen did trap him and have his pair reduced and then began the long and patience-necessitating, task of taking him. It took months before she could pet him and we still all had to be careful when going in or out the back door, “Walk very slowly! If you make sudden or fast movements he will attack”. When we had cookouts or visits on the back deck we even had to try to remember to move slowly if passing chips to another or uncrossing our legs too quickly for Cecil sprang to action. I’d never had a cat — all the kittens I’d snuck home as a child and tried to hide under my bed were inevitably returned, and I’d not made good on all aspects of my childhood swagger-induced promises of “eating cake and ice cream every day, and having 27 kittens. No, they will NOT grow up — I will get special kittens.” , though ice cream is often breakfast these days.
After months of patience and unconditional love Cecil did succumb to and then enjoy being petted by Karen, and then he became voracious for it, like a kid fascinated with a new toy. Emery, once, as we were gathered on the back deck, hilariously said, “I just pet the shit out of him for a few minutes and then he runs away”, when he noticed I had been trying to extricate myself for many minutes so as to “get going to meet a friend” as I’d mentioned a few times. Cecil “LOVES to be loved”, Karen would say, and she’d nailed it. This was a very new thing to him.
Soon he started sitting next to the back door for a new purpose; rather than swiping his claws at anything that moved on it’s way in or out, he was now trying desperately to get inside. Fall was coming to an end and he knew, as animals know, better than humans, what was coming next. He did not want to spend another winter outside. He’d successfully gotten in twice and though his path was thwarted by a few of the 5 inside cats, he evidently liked what he saw and felt and smelled inside.
Around this time he also developed new habits, one of them very disturbing but also to be prophetic.
TO BE CONTINUED…. CLIENTS CALL….