Sunday, 5 April 2020

  





ADVENTURES > THE EMPTY EH.... PEN SYNDROME

Last time I reported of all my travels across the Netherlands while moving my kittens to their new homes. A daunting task, but one which I have greatly enjoyed. Fortunately there was one that remained living with me: our, now not so small, Phèdre. The young lady in question is a pleasure for the eye, has a pleasant character and adapts well to the group. I already mentioned that she is not so cuddle-crazy, but fortunately she does like good morning-patting.

Every morning she jumps on the bed with a prolonged and heavy meow. When I put out my hand, she rubs her head and then her whole body against it, while grunting loudly. Also she stretches out on her side and she lets me rub her tummy. She enjoys it to the max.

She keeps her nails neatly withdrawn when she tackles my hand or arm. Even when she gnaws (gently) on my thumb or wrist, but sometimes she suddenly attacks with four sharp canines. A loud "No!" and a tap on her bottom make her walk a lap on the bed.

Soon she comes back to see if there are more pats for her. The other cats would like some attention as well. Not that they would sit and wait extendedly. That would have been beyond anything. Fortunately she doesn't push the others aside.


Her life seems carefree every day. She eats quite a quantity of meat or kibble, but she is still growing of course.

Depending on how my day is and how my work schedule is, they can roam in the garden either in the morning for few hours or in the afternoon. If I am free they can nearly do so all day. And they do so eagerly.

She will play alone, but if she gets the chance, she plays a game with each of the other Burmese. The oldest, Zohra, cann't be hunted around the garden more than two times, but luckily she is always prepared to provide or require maintenance. With Robbyn and Djavi she can enjoy and indulge. The wilder the better. Sometimes it seems as if a herd of cattle comes by in a stampede. A closer look reveals that it's only two or three Burmese.
Now that everything goes its way, I wonder what I have to write for the Cat Track and you? Life at home has come to rest. Mirre is on the pill and Phèdre doesn't know what being in heat means. The boys behave, in general, as neat males, my two oldies live their lives at ease and Zoortje moves anywhere in between. So what would I have to say?

I found the previous edition heartbreaking empty. I have also threatened to stop writing during the general members assembly. But no, no, no, they didn't want to hear any of that. I will therefore try to take a piece of everyday life and fumble it in the form of a story to pour. Who knows what it will lead to.

So here we go: Speaking of the garden, for a few years it's not what it should be, although there is progress. It is a multi-year plan, so to speak. The cats don't care, but I think a little differently. Time, energy, weather and money take turns (and sometimes simultaneously) playing a role as to why it is still not finished. The borders are now ready and in the back of the garden is a terrace large enough for a table and some chairs. There we can catch the last sun rays, before it disappears behind the house. Not just the cats enjoy it, I do so too.


In the middle: between the borders, the rear terrace and the duck boards, actually a grass field should be located. There is grass (along with the necessary weed), but I wouldn't call it a lawn. It is hilly to mountainous. For the construction of the terrace the ground needed to be leveled off and that was what became a mountain on the "lawn".
That has been there now long enough to be covered. Together with some pruning's that didn't fit in the green container, it now looks pretty haggard. Just putting the mower over it to get to show just a little, I can forget.

The cats however are having a ball. They can each take an unusual or unexpected stalking position and waylay. They can hide there for each other. Also they can hunt insects, wobbling grass and a single mouse brave or foolish enough to settle there. These mice do not live long, because of so many hairy claws, they loose irrevocably.

Even the birds are risking skin and feathers. Usually they check whether the window is open before they take a look in the garden. Sometimes that is forgotten and what follows is a few heart-stopping moment. All the Burmese (my oldies think they are even too old for that) stand, sit or lie taut lurking in the garden with big eyes. Sometimes followed by a single step, usually a sprint, sometimes even a mass sprint. A bird that keeps its head and reacts fast stays alive and calls indignant on the fence or the roof of the barn. Yet every year there will be a single victim. Usually a young, inexperienced one.

Once trapped in a mouth full of sharp teeth a dilemma is created. Not for the victims, they can't move. No, the hunter doesn't know what he / she must do. Killing it? And then what? Eat it? Who will get the dirty feathers off first then? Would he rather let go and risk that another one will take off with it? Well, no. Would he be able to play with it? Can he do so alone or will one of the others impose? Usually it ends with the lucky hunter walking through the garden in circles growling unhappily trying to avoid the others.



Through all the commotion I'm usually warned that something is wrong. And what should I do? What can I do? First I take away the prey. This causes me to receive some dirty looks, as well as a sneaky sigh of relief.
If the victim is still alive, I must try to put it over the fence. If the victim is dead by the time I get hold of it, I can throw it in the garbage bin. Although the successful hunter is happy to be rid of the dilemma, the rest of the gang finds it terrible that they haven't had access and that it is just suddenly gone. Restless they walk around for a while looking and searching. Imagine that I hid it! It takes some time before everyone moves quietly through the garden again.

Now the time of year and temperature cooperate deliciously, the garden is the place to be until late at night . Mother Nature pulls out a different arsenal of interesting adventures then the cats are used to during the day.

And so it happens on a summer-like evening. It was already dark and a few of the cats in the living room flew up and looked towards the back. All I hear is a shrill squeal. I don't know the sound and just don't know whether I should respond to it. The sound comes closer and the last sleeping cat is now looking intently at the doorway. When the sound comes with a flop, I decide to go look.

When I put on the light, I see one of the boy's with a squeaking mouse in his mouth. The other cats are intent of the tension around him. For a moment neither of us knows what to do and we just look at each other. Then the cat turns around and starts to walk away.

Because I see the mouse squirming in his mouth and I get visions of that mouse escaping and a hunting cat gang following it. So I call the cat back. He stops, turns around to me and drops the mouse down.
With two big steps I stand beside them. Fortunately, the whole gang remains stiff. The mouse, thank goodness, remains still too. I scalloped my hands around the little creature and pick it up. Thus, it is protected against possible attacks of the cats and I can try to get it out.

Yeah, so I thought. The little b.... bit in my fingers with strength. I can just keep from dropping him. As fast as I can, I walk through the kitchen and then into the garden. Meanwhile I hiss to the mouse that it should behave. Is that gratitude? I'm working to save his life, so sit tight and do not bite!

Once back in the garden I venture a glance at the creature. It remains to sit still on my hand, as though it has taken my words to heart. I see no blood, cuts or damage. With a farewell and a warning never to come back again, I slide him under the gate. There it sits before it sprints away.
Back inside I must submit to the looks of a deeply offended cat. I told him quickly that I'm very proud of him and that he was a very handsome boy. I didn't have the heart to ask him to never to do something like this in the future ever again.


It took a while for the gang to settle and before the cat had forgiven me. If he has caught something now and he wants to keep it, he makes sure that I see nothing. He doesn't take it inside anymore either. Imagine that I would take it away again. Look, he hunts and is successful, I know that. That is his nature and I can be proud of his achievements. But I would rather he didn't celebrate his victories inside. So far it seems that he has understood me. And so we can live with the situation and each other just fine.

And see now, we just have written another story. It isn't all that difficult. Try it and let others enjoy the adventures or behaviors of your cat(s). Good luck and until next time.

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