Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Cat-astrophe Befalls

Anyone who has followed Garfield for years will already know a few thousand ways that a cat can seriously annoy a human. Add one more ... 

When I rented this house it came with furniture. I also have my own furniture, so a lot of what can't be shoe-horned into the rooms is stored out in the covered back patio that doubles as the utility room plus cat canteen.

One of those things is my set of dining chairs. They are nice, sturdy chairs, apart from the seats, which, once upon a time, used to be raffia. I bought them because I love them as they are pretty much identical to the chairs you find in almost every Greek cafe. However, they are not the best thing to have in a house full of fur people who just have to vent their frustrations and sharpen their claws on them. So, the chairs are now seatless. One day, I plan to take them to a nearby carpenter to have wooden replacements made to fit.

A while ago the carpenter hand made me a piece to extend my desk, neatly finished, in the time it took me to have a coffee in a nearby bar. Cost under $4! 

So in the meantime, these skeleton chairs are laid on top of the wardrobe that doubles as the animal food storage cupboard. And, cats being cats, they are apt to jump up there to see if they can make an aerial assault on the contents.

Lesson #1 - Look up before you open cupboards.

As I opened the cupboard door as they lined up at feeding time, down falls one of the chairs that the little buggers had dislodged. No damage was done - to the chair - as it fell to the concrete floor, because something had broken it's fall midway. My head mostly ... and my shoulders ... and my back.

I am bruised and hurt everywhere and had to spend most of the day lying flat.

Of course, it could have been a LOT worse, if the chair had the extra weight of a seat, or broke a bone or knocked me out. Or, heaven forbid, killed me!

I can handle the idea of being mauled to death by cats (well almost), but I didn't expect to get bruised and battered as they stand by and watch while I cuss and scream in pain. And I swear they giggled.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Lunch is served

Betty and Mico the culprits

At lunch time, I had just put the cauldron of stew on to re-heat and was about to take the dog out while it did so. Opened the front door to find two "innocent looking" cats, Mico and Betty, sitting behind it, waiting to be let in. 

Generally, when you find the two of them together, trouble won't be far away. 

He does the hunting and she does the eating. He let's her henpeck him and I think he hands over his spoils, like handing over his wages, just for a quiet life.

Usually, when Mico catches something, he comes up the garden "chirping" away to announce it. He did the other day and I was just in time to see him arrive with a mouse, which he instantly dropped at Betty's feet. She casually wandered off with it, while he just carried on, slowly sauntering toward the house, resigned.

Why these two comedians couldn't have come in any one of numerous open windows, is anybody's guess, but I'm sure glad they didn't, because there outside the door on the patio was today's lunch of a half-eaten RAT!

Watch the birdie

Balu Birdwatching

Young Balu here was sitting, utterly transfixed on the windowsill, watching a flock of swallows swooping and diving and I had great fun watching his head moving in sync, like one of those nodding dog ornaments you see in the back of cars!

The other day, I couldn't help being distracted by a flock of wild canaries - there must have been about 100 of them - as they all alighted onto the telephone wires.

And while I was keeping an eye on the clouds rolling up the valley the other day - you dare not let one of those into the house - I spotted Khan sitting in the field next door, transfixed on five or six geese, belonging to my neighbour, Juan. I'd forgotten about them actually, because they are normally kept in a pen far enough away that you wouldn't know they were there, unless you go down the other end of my backyard (it has enough vines to make 200 liters of wine, so it is sizable).

Now I remember ... One day that Juan was working in the field and, everywhere he went, they were following him like puppies. I was relieved at the time that I am not the only one around here: it's bad enough having five cats who will follow me everywhere - I am sure I am known as "that mad foreign woman with the cats".

The geese were smaller then. Now they are each bigger than a cat, and Khan was certainly keeping about a 20 foot distance. The cats bring in a steady stream of prey; small rabbits, canaries, mice, rats, lizards by the gross, but I don't think - gee, I hope - none of the cats is going to come in dragging a goose any time soon!

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Fair Weather Friends

Everyone
knows that cats don't like water, well, with odd exceptions. I happen to have one who will happily stand in a bath of warm water, purring his bloody head off, pushing into my hands as I massage the shampoo into his back. (And yeah, he does come out looking a lot like Bert here.)

His brother, Khan, would stand armpit-deep in a metal dog-bowl of water on hot days when he was little and, one day he created great entertainment by doing a kinda triple-jump self-service sheep-dipping dance the length of a full horse-trough. He was dripping wet at the end of it, yet totally un-bothered by the experience.

But, when it's water falling out of the sky, think again! It's been raining here in Tenerife for about 24 hours now, on and off between drizzle and proper rain. Yes, this is newsworthy: it "should" not rain at all here in August.

During a couple of sunny intervals, I let the cats go outside and both times, within 10 minutes, the sky began to get dark and only "looked like" it was going to rain  and all FIVE cats (not just one or some of them) filed indoors rapidly. I find this especially curious, because I have had to keep them in quite a lot recently for their safety. So you'd imagine, rain or shine, they'd be dying to go out.

Couple of days after the last episode, the local tiger thug picked a fight with poor Mico, who came in with his white shirtfront covered in blood. I don't like to see them hurt and felt especially sorry for Mico, because the blood was coming from a hole that had been ripped open under his chin.

The background to this is that Mico was kicked in the chin several years ago. His lost part of his lip, his jaw was broken and had to be wired and I had to hand-feed him soft food for weeks. He still prefers not to be touched there.

And this time, he felt really sorry for himself too. I've never heard him whine and complain, as he did. After cleaning him up (to a nice rose pink shade), I lay him in my bed and he just stayed as he was put and hardly moved for 24 hours.

His "missus", Betty washed him back to white, then cuddled up with him. A couple of times, I had to shake him to wake him up - just to be sure he was still alive!

The next morning, he was right as rain, of course.

Typical man! They just can't take the pain, can they? :)

After I hadn't seen the pest for a couple of days, I thought we'd try and see if I could let them all out. I mean the poor animals need exercise and fresh air too. But within ONE HOUR, just one solitary hour of letting them out, that bastard was back, picking fights, caterwauling and making the dog bark.

So, they were locked up again, until either this nuisance got fed up and terrorizes someone else, gets chased off during the hunting season that began this month (no, I don't wish him anything worse), or I work out a way to catch him.

The hope being that with no-one to beat up and no way he can sneak in the house to scrounge a meal, he will eventually get the message and bugger off.

Five cats and one dog inside one, relatively small, house?

You'd be amazed at how well behaved they were - I was - among themselves.

No bickering between them - which was the worry and one of the main reasons for removing them from the problem, because they had started to do so (and had never done before) while they were getting picked on by the "tiger". Practicing, I guess? With me, they were like little kids on the long school holiday.

"What can I do now mum?"

"I'm bored."

"I'm hungry." (again)

One after another, 24 hours a day and, if I wasn't paying full attention - like if I had the audacity to try to sleep or something - the "request" came accompanied by a thump on the nose by paw full of sharp talons! Ain't they just so sweet?

Last week - finally - they were able to sneak out for a few hours in the morning without getting ambushed. And you would think, wouldn't you, that after several weeks of being shut up, that they would be off like lightening. Not so.

They go out, do what they have to do and come back, or they sit on windowsills by open windows until I push their bums out! Or, they come out with me and the dog - all in file like ducklings - and come back and indoors again at the end of the walk. It's entertaining and I'm glad to have them all relatively close so I know they are safe, but on the level of "normal cat behavior", I just can't work 'em out. :)

Friday, 1 July 2005

Bad Cattitude

There are very few creatures on this earth that I can't get along with or can say I dislike - except the type that slither and crawl and, then it's generally the ones who do so on two legs that bother me most

Cats usually present me no problems whatsoever. Normally, I find it easy to build a rapport with them. (Maybe this is because we share similar tastes for leisure and moral outlooks?) In any case, enough of them have chosen to live with me over the years.

We also get frequent visitors because there are a lot of wild cats around. Even those who could claim to have a semblance of a home are treated like farm cats, not pets. They probably don't get meals (expected to go self-catering) and are certainly never allowed in houses. Most of them will humbly request a meal here and I am happy to oblige, provided that their presence does not cause any anguish for my own cats nor cause any undue noise about which the neighbours could complain. I'm amazed actually that my cats are generally very laid-back about the majority of callers. I even suspect them of encouraging one or two.

But there's always one who has to "prove the rule" though, isn't there?

We have a "stripy tiger" (tabby) hanging around at the moment, causing mayhem, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I only have to let my poor cats out for a moment and he's there, ready to ambush them.

Yes, I'm sure my cats could hold their own, but why should they? They are normally very tranquil, but this is keeping them on a state of alert and even causing them to have little arguments amongst themselves.

And, if it's all the same, I'd rather avoid the vet's bills, thank you.

This cat is exceedingly pushy and filled with bad cattitude. I doubt he belongs anywhere. That should make me want to love him, but I just cannot find a way. I can't seem to find the way to get rid of him either!

On Wednesday, he'd got himself between Mico - my eldest and therefore "man of the house" - and the back entrance. Mico is a big cat, but he's always been laid-back and a gentle giant. He's more cut out for minding kittens than taking off his jacket to give someone a thump, but that would never make him hesitate in trying to do his duty ... and he promptly got a bloodied ear for his trouble.

There was noisy caterwauling and that sparked the dog off barking ... The easiest way to put an end to that was to take the dog out with me to sort it out. And, do you know, even with 55 lbs of Rabid-Rottweiller bearing down on him (well she was loud and, he's not to know she's a big *pussy cat* really), not to mention an angry human ... that tabby was still in no particular hurry to depart. The cheek of the boy! Poor old Mico was rooted to the spot, paralysed with fear.

Eventually, I got him to come to me and off we went to the bathroom to dab iodine on his ear. Come to think of it, that probably caused him the most angst. 

"Oh no, not that stinging yellow stuff again!"

Anyway, while I was applying the TLC, we had a little chat, as you do.

(I mean, as you do if you're at least half mad, and I plead guilty.)

Of course I hugged him and told him I was proud of him for being a very brave man, but I also said he didn't have to be a hero nor prove anything to anyone. (I could tell you so many stories that would show he's already done so, over and over.) Then I told him that all he needed to do was to come indoors and let "mummy" deal with it. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, this woman has finally cracked. That is not a point upon which I am willing to argue, because I'd lose.

The point is that in order to get across tone and intent to a cat (which I am certain they do understand), it helps if you use the actual words.

So, what happens Thursday morning?

Balu was sitting on the windowsill behind me and suddenly growled, loudly. I knew that meant our unwelcome visitor was around. A second later, who do you think walked through the door and into my office?

Yup, Mico. You have to smile. Did he learn English?