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April 28th, 2023

My Little Dear

It’s taken me a while to be able to post this one. Last April 16 I checked the cat bed a next door neighbor put out for the Calico and she was there napping. A few hours later I looked again and she was gone. I reckon it was time after all. I’d been hoping she would let it happen either in my house or on my porch so I could give her a decent memorial. But she decided to return to the streets from where she came to me.

I never gave her a human name, though I’m certain she had a name among cats. It would have been scent based probably. I called her Little Dear, or Madam. I would say to her what ‘cha want sweetiewhat ‘cha doin puddin. You want inside? You want some food? How about some better water in that dish? But I never gave her a name out of respect for her independence. She was a street cat. A feral. I always respected that. But my neighbor Jason named her Elenore so both times I had to have her trapped and taken to a vet, that was her name. But to me she was mostly Little Dear.

She started coming around to my bird feeders I’m pretty sure, back in 2005. By then some city animal control someone had already trapped her, taken her to a vet to be spade and given an initial round of shots, then tipped one ear as a signal that she’d already been trapped and would not produce more feral cats. But the city likes having them around as long as they’ve been fixed because they keep the rodent population down. You are not supposed to trap or bother the ear tipped cats.

One day a hurricane came up the bay, and while the wind was howling and the rain pouring buckets I stepped out onto my porch and saw her huddled in my basement window well. I figured I was going to find a dead little kitty next day but she was gone. I had a twinge of sympathy…she was a beautiful little thing…so I got a distinctive looking yellow Fiestaware bowl and put some tuna in it and put it on the window well. I knew I was making a commitment then…I really wasn’t interested in having another pet, but I went ahead with it. A few hours later the tuna was gone but I didn’t see her. Next day I saw her stalking my bird feeders and went back inside and got the same yellow bowl, put some more tuna into it, and walked out where she could see me. Feral cats are very skittish but the moment she saw the bowl she seemed to recognise it. I held it up for her to look at, then put it down on my porch and walked back inside. A few moments later the tuna and the cat were gone.

Later that day I got out my car care kit and began washing my car, which was parked on the street in front of my house. While I worked I noticed the calico walking toward me and I just stood still. She sat down in what I call perfume ad cat pose and gave me a heavy stare for about a couple minutes. She was sizing me up, taking me in, fixing me somewhere in mental storage. Then she just casually walked off. But I figured that somehow, some way, she made me hers in that moment. They say dogs have owners and cats have staff. That day I became staff to a street cat. It lasted 18 more years.

The photo above was taken in November 2010, and while I’m pretty sure the first time I fed her was five years before that I can’t just now find those first few photos I took of her. Ten years ago when I took that she was still keeping her distance but would come to my porch for food and water. She was still hunting the birds around me feeders though, and that step was a favorite spot. She was an amazing hunter and I was always moving the feeders around to keep them safe from her hiding places. Problem was birds are messy eaters and the ones perched on the feeders would scatter seed all over the ground and then the ground feeders would come and those were the ones the cat got regularly.

It wasn’t until about six years later I could get in a few pets, but only with my feet with cotton socks on. This I figured, was because feet can’t grab and she remembered being trapped and taken to the vet where she got her ear tipped. Cats don’t forget things like that. Then a couple years after that I was able to coax her into the house but only briefly. Then it became a thing and it was around that time I was able to pet her with my hands. I put up a couple YouTubes to prove it because it’s very rare anyone gets to touch, let alone pet a feral cat.

But after she started trusting me eventually giving pets became mandatory.

The front of the sofa you see there was the spot. If I didn’t walk right over to the sofa after I let her in, like if I went to the kitchen to make my morning coffee, she’d come into the kitchen and meow…Loudly…and I would have to go sit on the sofa and give pets until she’d had enough. Then it was either she’d nap on the cat bed I’d provided or want to go back outside.

We developed a signal. If she was just watching through the storm door then it stayed shut. But when she put her nose into the bottom left corner of the storm door then it was time for me to open it. Right up to the very end that was the signal and I always complied whether I thought it was a good idea or not. There were times when it was pouring buckets out there and she still wanted out. Yes Ma-‘am…whatever you say…and I’d open the door. I never forgot she was a street cat and I’m certain that was why she trusted me.

She kept her distance from everyone except Bob from Topeka who would occasionally come over and house sit for me while I was away, and Heather and Jason my next door neighbors, and them only provisionally. I seem to have been the only one allowed to give extensive petting. Under the chin, around the face, pretty much everywhere except the belly. I learned her body language and could see the look that said okay I’ve had enough take your hands off me now. Occasionally I would get a swat, but never with claws out. She had her boundaries.

She was getting very old for a cat, let alone a feral cat. I did my best, but now, maybe it’s natural, I wonder if I wasn’t stupid after all. Heather helped trap her so I could take her to the vet for a urinary tract infection. She was having difficulty urinating and then she started bleeding. They gave her antibiotics and for a while it was looking good. She never stopped letting me pet her and I could get her purring, and that little trilling sound she would make now and then. But she never really got well. And I think partly it was the trauma of being captured inside my house. I really wish I hadn’t had to do that but I was afraid the infection would kill her. Now I wonder if it wasn’t something the vet did that shot her aging health to bits. My neighbor and I had to call around to even find a vet that would treat a feral, and while the nurses at the place I took her all fussed over her I’m not so sure the doctor really cared about her like they would have had she been my pet.

She was a feral cat, not mine, just a pretty little wild thing I made friends with. Had she been my cat she’d have been used to being put into the carrier and taken periodically to the vet. But she was feral. When I got her back from the vet she hid down in my basement, but eventually came back upstairs. I let her come and go despite how wobbly she got because outside seemed to perk her up. Or maybe it was knowing she still had her freedom. Every time I let her out she seemed to get a little better. But also freedom to come and go was the bargain. I always kept my side of the bargain.

As she got weaker, thinner and more wobbly I still figured letting her outside would be okay because she wasn’t going further then my or my neighbor’s porches. And freedom to come and go was the bargain, the bases of the trust she’d given me. I considered trapping her again and taking her back to the vet, but I’d become convinced that vet, whatever they did, only made things worse. I didn’t know what to do except wait and hope she got better. But 18 years old is a long time for any cat.

Then abruptly she was gone and she wasn’t in any shape to be going far. So I searched. I searched all her places nearby, and up and down the street. Nobody had seen her for days.

I found out though that lots of folks up and down my street were also feeding her. They loved her. Beauty has its benefits. She was a beautiful little calico. Everyone said so.

Now she’s gone. And I’m just going through my days on autopilot. I wake up in the morning and for an instant I want to open the front door to see if she wants inside. I step outside to check the weather and I glance around to see if she’s coming. She would always come running when she saw me at the door, even if it was just to dart inside for a few nibbles an some water and then go back out. Today it’s cold and rainy outside and the feeling keeps tapping me on the shoulder that I need to go look and see if she wants inside. She would let me dry her off with a terry cloth towel if her fur was wet. She gave me an amazing amount of trust.

From the city streets she came to me, and to the city streets she returned. A piece of my heart went with her.

My little dear…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

April 11th, 2023

Another Edition Of Bruce Gets His Stomach Tied In Knots…

A few days ago I noticed the calico was having trouble urinating. She would make repeated trips to the litter box I’ve provided and make an attempt but I could tell nothing was coming out. Afterward she would lick her genital area as if there was some irritation going on there. Then I noticed bleeding. So it was time for a trip to the vet, and since she’s a street cat who only comes into my house when it’s cold or she just wants a safe place to hang out for a while, that meant trapping her.

I had to do that once before when she had a wound of some sort on the side of her face that became badly infected, but that was done with the help of animal rescue folks who knew what they were doing, and kept me out of it. Even so, when she finally came back from the vet and they released her into my front yard she instantly darted off and I didn’t see her again for several nerve wracking days. This time it would have to be me, or so I thought. But my new next door neighbor does animal rescue and fostering and she got madam calico into a carrier for me. But then it was where do I take her? She’s feral. No shots since way back when the city caught her and tipped her ear as a notice to animal control that she’d been fixed and leave her alone.

One animal hospital in Cockeysville that was recommended refused to take her, which surprised the rescue people. But one in Towson did. Getting her there meant listening to her cry the entire time and I felt horrible. But it needed doing. Something like that could eventually kill her if it isn’t treated.

They all loved her at the animal hospital. And let it be said she’s a beautiful cat. Everyone remarks on it. One nurse in particular came into the holding room with us with oohs and ahhs…and how much she loved taking care of elderly cats. I had told them he was at least 17, if not 18 years old by now. I have digital photos of her when she first started hunting around my bird feeders from back in 2005. Back then she wouldn’t let me come near. It took me about 16 years to gain enough trust with her that she lets me pet her now, and comes inside when it gets cold, rather than use the shelter I made for her. So when the nurse referred to her as being a geriatric patient, I was a bit stunned to hear that word, but it made sense. I’d noticed her becoming more frail this year. But she was still very active up to then.

I got her back home and all was reasonably well. If the cat was having trouble urinating here at home base she had absolutely none on the doctor’s table, which was good because they were able to get a sample to send to the lab. They examined her as best they could and saw nothing that needed urgent attention. I’m assuming the bleeding I saw that morning was due to her constantly cleaning her genital area. There was none present at the examination and there has been none since. Her vitals were normal for a cat her age. They gave her an injection of antibiotics which is good for a couple weeks and told me to keep an eye on her. They discharged her (us) without need of any further medication. Though they would like a follow up visit in a couple weeks. I don’t know if either one of us is up for that, but one thing at a time.

She went down into my basement and stayed there overnight. I went out for a drink. Self medicating. It didn’t help. She was so listless and wobbly after I got her back that all night long my stomach was in knots worrying about her. I stressed about it so much I began to worry about my heart. I felt my right arm going numb and wondered if it was time to call 911. But it was just the awkward position I’d tossed and turned myself into.

Next morning she came back upstairs. She was drinking plenty of water and now she was urinating without any apparent problem. The outgo was matching the intake. But her aim wasn’t hitting the litter box. She’d put her front paws into the box but left her butt hanging out and my carpet was getting hit. I figured her genital area was still sore and she didn’t want to sit right down on the litter. My neighbor told me that wasn’t uncommon. So I got out the pet stain remover and the carpet shampooer and the Kirby and cleaned up after her. Then I cut a mat out of one of the contractor grade trash bags I have in stock (I use them for yard work) that extends a foot and a half around the litter box. That’s doing the trick.

She stayed inside all that day. Next morning she was still a bit wobbly but she wanted out. She’s a feral. I have a set of bargains I made with her and it’s all about maintaining trust. She has complete freedom to come and go, whether I think it’s wise or not. She’s not my pet, she’s a wild animal I made friends with. So I let her out. I hoped some fresh air, sunshine and at least a little activity would start perking her up. Thankfully she didn’t go far. I kept fresh water and food out there for her. She didn’t touch her food but drank lots of water. She came back in for the night as it started getting dark and I was glad she did because Maryland had a cold snap and the temperature was in the low 30s when I got up the next day.

When it got warmer, she went out again, then came back in again for the night. She’s downstairs now in the cat bed I’ve provided and I expect she’ll want to be let out again when it warms up later today. I’ve been trying to get her appetite functional again with various wet cat foods, some with gravy, but it seems the off the shelf tuna has the best chance. At least she’s been expressing interest. Still isn’t eating though. I’m thinking that’s the antibiotics they gave her. I’ve had a round or two of those myself and I know how they knock you down and kill your appetite. As long as she’s still consuming lots of water I’ll leave her be.

But it’s still stressing me out. I’m going to try to get some more work around the house done, and work on finishing off episode #36 of A Coming Out Story, and just try to chill as best I can. I don’t mind being childless. I never have. But in retrospect I don’t think I could have handled having kids very well. On the other hand you can talk to human children, educate them, teach them to look both ways when crossing the street, ask them where it hurts, call them back home for supper. You have to intuit Everything with a pet and there is just no teaching them to look both ways. And that reputation cats have of not coming when they’re called. It’s True. They’ll just listen to it and not move and you don’t know where they are and you wonder if they’ve suddenly taken a turn for the worse.

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 26th, 2023


I will usually let the calico stay inside when it gets close to or below freezing outside now. This has been a long time coming. It was several years ago she would not come inside at all, and just a couple years ago she would not stay for more than it took to look around and quickly exit. Now she will stay overnight if it’s really super cold outside, and she will come in for a while during the afternoon if it’s cold enough outside.

While inside, she usually stays on the first floor, though in recent weeks she has taken to exploring the second floor, and even coming upstairs while I’m in my den to insist on being paid attention to, and then maybe to be let back out. Often when it’s an overnight I’ll come out of the bedroom to see her laying on the floor at the top of the stairs. She’ll give me until about nine before she starts meowing that it’s time for me to get up and let her out.

But things have reached the point here, where if the calico is inside napping in her bed, and I’m upstairs working, and she hears me close the upstairs bathroom door, it isn’t long before I hear her yowling outside the door demanding I open it so she can see what’s going on. This morning it escalated to paws under the door.

(sigh) Cats! Everything you think is only a behavior of domesticated cats is a misunderstanding. None of them are domesticated. Some of them just choose to live among us, and we let the ones in that are too small to eat us.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 2nd, 2022

So…About Your Winter Amenities…

Now that it’s getting colder, and the calico is getting older, she’s exhibiting a definite preference for inside my house. Which is okay up to a point. I have food, water, a litter box and a nice cat bed for her. So she can reasonably think that I’ve invited her in. But she is not a domestic cat and I’ve no idea how she’ll take it when I go away for things like groceries and such. I doubt she’ll tear things up in my absence, but I guess we’ll see.

I’m going away for just over a month this December to visit family in California for Christmas and New Year. My house sitter and the cat are going to have to figure out what their relationship will be. I’m still prepping her usual winter shelter on my front porch. But something out there scares her now I think. It isn’t just the rainy cold we’ve had the past couple days. She demands outside in lots worse than this. There’s reports of foxes in the neighborhood…

…(not Those kinds of foxes…alas…). I think it might be that.

Also…and this is angering…people who lived down the street from me moved away and just left their cat behind. It was an outdoor cat to begin with but now it has to survive on the street and it’s been a bit of a bully toward the calico. Neighbors are feeding it, so it won’t starve. But while the calico was, small as she is, never afraid to get into it with another cat, and I’ve seen her start fights with other cats she didn’t want in Her neighborhood, I think age is telling her now about the better part of valor…

by Bruce | Link | React!

July 23rd, 2022

Dealing With A Heatwave And Mosquitoes

I’ve taken to putting out a bowl of ice next to the water bowl on the porch when it gets this hot. The calico won’t have anything to do with the ice, but when it’s halfway melted she’ll drink from that bowl first, then finish up with the regular water bowl. I’ve no idea what that thought process is.

There’s plenty of shade on my porch, under the trees and she rotates lounging spots. I keep inviting her inside but she won’t have it. So she stays out in the heat. I make sure she has plenty of water. It’s the best I can do.

I got the birdbath going again this morning. At some point I need to adjust its footing and make it level again. Right now I just have some wedges in place. I bought a twirling thing some years ago that keeps the water in it moving, supposedly to discourage mosquito egg laying. Customers usually come pretty quickly in this sort of heat. Mostly they drink, but every now and then I see someone taking a bath in it. The twirler takes up a bunch of space in the middle and I think that keeps most of the bathers out. But at least they get a drink.

I’ll put some water dishes out back, I just have to remember to take them back inside at night and run them through the dishwasher to rid any mosquito larva out of them.

I have a mosquito kill fogger I run every couple days to spray under the deck, a space that I can’t keep standing water out of. It discharges a very dense fog of mosquito kill and it’s very effective, but I have to warn my neighbors when I’m about to use it to keep their pets indoors for a while. They don’t seem to mind I think because it does very effectively keep the mosquitos away. But I can’t use it out front by the outdoor faucet because there are cats out and about there. There is a “natural” mosquito repellant spray I Can use however because it’s pet friendly. It definitely stinks of some spicy plant and after I use it the two street cats that hang out here turn up their noses and avoid the area. I can verify that it keeps the mosquitoes away too, but only for a couple days.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 2nd, 2021

The Sea Cats of Baltimore

This came across my Facebook stream a moment ago, and I just have to share

From Mikhail Voloshin (Facebook):

I just want to take a moment to gaze in awe at that cat’s face. If one were to try to imagine the hardest, saltiest, snarliest leather-skinned sailor to ever chill the ocean to ice with his mere gaze, and then imagine that that sailor was a cat, then you still would fall short of Herman here. This matted fluffball is a physical embodiment of the Platonic form of “sea cat”. This is the face of a cat who lives on jerkey and rum, who has sung shanties through both doldrums and typhoons, and who thinks nothing of scaling the rigging amid a squall. This cat has exchanged broadsides with Portuguese frigates, dual-wielded cutlasses in boarding duels, slit the throats of mutineers, and rescued crewmates both from cannibal spitroasts and governors’ gallows. He’s torn up his Letter of Marque, bribed a portside prostitute for the route of the Treasure Fleet, and held a dagger in his mouth while climbing up the side of a prize ship in the dead of night. He is eight months old, fifteen inches long, and weighs eleven pounds, and I would not want to cross him in a dark tavern.

Ray Chael says: “I would still pick him up and give him kisses and treats.”

by Bruce | Link | React!

June 11th, 2020

Madam Is Not Well Lately And I Am Very Worried

Madam calico is not well. A week or so ago it looks like she got into a fight with another cat somewhere. I’d seen her walking along a block over on 41st street as I was walking back home. Now I wonder if she got into a fight with a cat she wasn’t familiar with over there. But I’ve no idea. She had bite marks on both her ears and what looks like a small puncture wound on her nose that might have come from a cat’s claw.

For several days afterward she seemed withdrawn and sickly. She let her fur get a bit matted and unkempt. But then she seemed to improve. Now she’s looking sickly again, and there’s a patch on her left cheek she’s scratched completely clear of fur. Down in there is what looks like a bloody scab. I’ve no idea what’s going on with it.

Amazingly, she still hunts. Sickly though she seems. And she’s still good at it. After the fight she wasn’t doing too well and one morning I was making a fuss over her at the front door to try and perk her up a bit. She has this routine of coming inside then going back outside…in and out in and out… I can’t leave my station at the front door when she’s doing this or she’ll panic and shoot back out like a rocket. So I open the door and close the door and open it and close it and so on. I usually close the front door and walk away after a while because I have things to do around here. But I left it open only closing the outer storm door which has a full length plastic window that lets her look inside and check up on me. Sometimes when I do that she curls up and naps right on my doorstep. I spent more time than usual with her that morning and she seemed to perk up a bit. Then I went inside with only the storm door closed and after a while I heard this tiny little meow outside and I looked over and she was staring back into the house. So I went over to fuss over her some more. She’d brought me a freshly killed sparrow.

She’s probably something like 12 years old now, which is old for any cat but astonishingly old for a street cat. I wish I could do something more for her than just feed her and make sure she always has fresh water. But she’ll have none of it, and I won’t betray her trust by trapping her inside. I’m keeping my fingers crossed she gets better, but we’re both old bodies that don’t heal as well as they used to. Whatever life she has left she’ll be as free as she was when I first gained her trust and she decided to make my front porch her hangout, and that I was safe enough to allow closeness.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 27th, 2020

Cats And Their Little Ways Of Expressing Displeasure

I get just a little late putting food out for the calico and when I do go to put it out I step in my bare feet on dead bird remnants that are all over my doormat. I need to start looking down first. Yes madam, I was late. I need to put BEWARE OF THE CAT signs around my feeders.

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 24th, 2020

Warm Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Nice weather over the weekend in Charm City. The Calico approves.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 8th, 2018

Don’t I Feed You Enough??

Feline love. I have the front door opened and the outer storm door closed to let more sunlight in. I look up from my lunch to see the neighborhood calico on my doorstep looking in. So I walk over thinking she would like some food and maybe some fresh water. But…no. She’s presented me with another offering of dead bird…the fourth one in two weeks. Feathers are everywhere on my front porch, and the fresh kill right on my doorstep. 

As I open the door she fixes me with that unnervingly steady cat gaze. Where’s all that cat food coming from…how come I never see you kill anything…here, let me show you how it’s done…

Yes dear…I know you love me. Another one I have to give a proper burial to in my garden. As I wrap the bird up I wonder if Klingons leave the dead bodies of their enemies at the doors of their boy/girl friends as a token of love…


by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

March 16th, 2016


Madam Calico on my front porch steps, in the afternoon, after work…

madam calico

I’ve had a few head butts lately, and some body rubs, if I just sit there and don’t attempt to reach a hand out to her. I’ve been letting her dictate the level of proximity, rather than trying to get closer myself. I don’t think she’ll ever let me actually touch her. But she’s reached a point now where she’s willing to sit very close and occasionally slide up against me as she passes by. Up to this point its been rubbing up against every object on the porch, the chairs, the railings and the door when I open it, but never me.

Still won’t stay inside the house for very long. She’ll come in on cat curiosity and look around…she’s even wandered upstairs once. She investigates the furniture and anything new I’ve brought into the living room, like a bag of groceries for instance. But pretty quickly she gets a look on her face like Oh Dear God What Am I Doing???   And then she bolts. I’m trying to get her to understand that I will always open the door for her. But that lesson might never take. She’s afraid. That’s probably a good thing for a street cat to be in the city.

I was hanging out on the front steps smoking a cigar and saw something laying in the street that looked like a neighbor’s cat had been run over and I panicked and ran to it. It was just a black plastic bag of some sort. My aging geezer eyes decoded it wrong. And a fear I have now that never goes away probably added to the illusion. I’m never getting over it I suppose…

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 12th, 2016


Madam Calico and me hanging out on the front porch.


It’s taken me five or six years to gain this level of trust out of her.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 16th, 2014

Neighborhood Calico

I keep forgetting I can take video now with this little pocket device I’ve been carrying around for years. It’s the still photographer I am. I forget that pictures can move too, if the occasion presents. So the little feral calico cat that’s made herself something of a home around Casa del Garrett has become friendly enough toward me now that she’ll come to greet my car when I return home. Yesterday it was after a trip to the grocery. She’s four, maybe five years old now, which is so I’m told about as long as outdoor cats live and it’s getting on toward the winter cold, and I’m starting to worry about how much longer I’ll have her in my world. So I’ve started recording some moments with her…something now I deeply regret not doing with Claudia…


Toward the end of the video I have a geezer moment and I get the term “tabby cat” confused with “tom cat”. Her dad, obviously, was a tom cat. One of her parents was a tabby.

I started feeding her two hurricanes ago, after I saw her huddled in one of my basement window sills in a torrent of cold driving rain. I knew I didn’t dare go out to try to coax her somewhere dryer because she’d just run off and I was afraid I’d find her dead there in the window sill the next morning. But next morning she was gone. I put a dish of tuna on the window sill and when I checked it later it was empty. I’d deliberately used a very visually distinctive old Fiestaware bowl, and the next time I saw her I put some more tuna in it and walked out on my porch with it and held it up so she could see it. She seemed to recognise it, and I put it down and went back inside and watched from the front window. She came up and chowed down. I knew I was making a commitment then, but she’d been hanging out on my street for about two years by then and I was getting attached. This was before Claudia.

Later that day, while I was doing some lawn work by the front steps, I saw her come over and sit down on the sidewalk about five yards away from where I was, and she gave me a long level stare like I’d never seen a cat do before. I thought, I’m being sized up. Then she walked off.

After that, my feeding her became a thing. Later my neighbors on either side got into it too. One even built a small winter shelter for her out of one of those big plastic storage containers. So she knows she this side of the street is a safe space.

I’ve no idea how much longer she’ll be with us. Five years is a long time for a feral. But she won’t be coaxed least not for more than a few seconds. I’ve gotten her to peek inside the house maybe three times and it’s never for more than a few seconds and she bolts out again. You can’t get too close. She’ll come sniff my shoes and that’s about it. But I got her to trust me and that’s happiness enough.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 11th, 2014

Cat Dreams…

Some weeks ago I brought a new cat into the house.   Her name is Isis.   She’s an eleven year old black domestic short hair I adopted from the Maryland SPCA.   More about that later.

I’m down in the art room working on the computer. Isis comes in and sits in my lap for a while, then hops off and lays down on a cat bed I’ve given her for down here. I keep working and after a while I hear a little sound, like a little cat snore. I’ve heard her snore occasionally since I brought her here and usually it stops after a moment or two. This time it gets louder. Then it gets really loud.

Alarmed, thinking she’s in distress, I get up and go check her. She’s laying curled up in the cat bed, and seems sound asleep. But she’s growling. It’s the same noise she makes when she’s at the front window and sees another of the neighborhood cats. You’ve probably all heard that set your teeth on edge slow drawn-out growl that’s the prelude to an all out cat fight. This was the sound she was making. But she was sound asleep, eyes closed, paws twitching slightly. I figured she was having a bad dream. I remembered a passage from Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley when Charley, his dog, was having a nightmare after seeing his first Yellowstone bear:

In the night I heard him whining and yapping, and when I turned the lights on his feet were making running gestures and his body jerked and his eyes were wide open, but it was only a night bear. I awakened him and gave him some water. This time he went to sleep and didn’t stir all night. In the morning he was still tired. I wonder why we think the thoughts and emotions of animals are simple.
John Steinbeck, “Travels With Charley”.

So I place a hand on my cat and for a moment it’s as if she doesn’t feel it at all. Then she startles awake, head up, eyes blinking. (What…what???) I give her some friendly pets and chin scratches and stay there while the dream leaves. She gets up and sits in my lap for a while and I keep petting the bad dream away. Eventually she wanders upstairs to the food dishes. I suppose cats do comfort eating too.

I wonder sometimes what animals that dream think of their dreams. Do they understand the dream wasn’t real? They must have some grasp of it. How else does a cat reconcile waking up from a dream of, oh say, stalking some tasty birds and then suddenly they’re in their cat bed inside the house. Or do they just casually accept that reality is like that? Not linear from past to present, but bouncing here and there like hot water on a griddle.

Silly human…the whole world is unstuck in time, you just don’t notice. Which of course means…because clearly I’m better at noticing these random time warps than you are…that it’s breakfast time whenever I say it is…

by Bruce | Link | React!

September 18th, 2013


I walk through the neighborhood on my way to Cafe’ Hon…a favorite dinner spot.   Along the way I often encounter various neighborhood cats.   We’re not exactly swimming in cats here in Medfield, but Claudia was hardly the only outdoor domestic cat in the neighborhood. They all usually come up to me for a pet or two when they see me coming…somehow they always seem to sense that I’m a friendly human, even the ones I’ve never laid eyes on before.   Apart from the ferals there is only one neighborhood cat who won’t come near…a big grey one that lives at the other end of my street.   But that one’s even more of a diva than Claudia was.   Claudia was a diva too, but a friendly one.

So I cross paths with the black cat that lives across Falls Road, who reminds me of my first cat, and yesterday as I walked to Cafe’ Hon, a little black & white one a few blocks away I’d never seen before, who came up to me for a pet.   It had a name tag exactly like the one I gave to Claudia after she became mine.   I reach down to give them a few strokes before I go on my way, and now I have a new patter I say to all the neighborhood cats as we exchange greetings.

Please be careful…Please…

by Bruce | Link | React!

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