Meet Percy


Percy is all cat. In this picture, he’s about to attempt to kill a bird or two. Percy chooses if he wants you to pet him or not. He will not understand that tables and counters are off limits. He’s a great combination of ornery, rambunctious, and loving. Percy is not my cat, but he’s my son’s, who has moved back home (at least some of the time). So guess who has to take care of Percy?

I wouldn’t mind so much, but Ming, my cat, hates Percy. I’ve worked with them for months, but Ming isn’t having it. I had to take Ming to the vet because Ming stopped using the litter box. He’s peed on floors, bedding, blankets, clothes, boxes, and people. $104 later, Ming comes home with a diagnosis of sever anxiety. The doctor recommends separating them permanently. So now Percy is an outside cat except at night when I close him off in a bedroom.

I don’t need this added work. Son’s mother (where Son stays most of the time) doesn’t do pets. Our homeowners association doesn’t allow outdoor cats, but I’m knowingly breaking that rule. My backyard sanctuary is disrupted as now I’ve introduced to it a murderous predator who kills for sport.

Taking an adult cat to the humane society means certain death for Percy. Even if I could find a new home, I hate to do that to Son, who will eventually (there’s no telling when) find a home and want his cat.

Ming is us ingredients the litter box again now that he has no interaction with Percy. Now I have a new morning buddy during my patio time.

All I can say about all of this is Son had better put me in a really nice nursing home when it’s my time.

Mr. Mingles Needs an Intervention

Mr. Mingles

Mr. Mingles was rescued as a kitten from the rafters of a cabin where the kids and I were staying on a church retreat. A dog chased him up there. He watched that dog kill his kitty sibling. We never met his parents. Malnourished, dirty, and flea infested, we fed him yogurt and bacon from the dining hall until we could get him home. To this day, he sits in the kitchen every morning when I make my breakfast smoothie some can like yogurt from the spoon.

As you can see, he’s more than made up for his humble beginnings. Mr. Mingles is now a fat cat.

Son number one has returned from college and brought frat cat Percy home with him. While Ming gets along with Fred, our third cat and ruler of all, fat cat Ming cannot tolerate frat cat Percy. All Percy wants to do is play. Ming does not play, ever. When Percy tries to mess around, Ming responds with growls and hisses, and waddles to a spot on the couch or to his place on the dining room table (don’t worry, we never eat there).

There’s a kitty door to the garaged that leads to the one of two litter boxes. Ming has to think about getting through that door due to his oversizedness. To make matters worse, Percy has made a game out of lying in wait to take advantage of the lumbersome Mr. Mingles as he squeezes himself through the door.

All that is to say, Mr. Mingles can’t be bothered with using the litter box. Just before settling in for my meditation time this morning, I caught him just as he was squatting to take a wiz on the Christmas tree skirt. I quickly picked him up, morning mudra forgotten, and whisked him away to the box where he promptly peed. Fred and I discreetly waited on the other side of the door so we could praise him for his good behavior. We waited a good long time, but Mr. Mingles wasn’t going to risk the annoyance of Percy’s potential pounce. I finally broke down, open the door, and he came racing inside. I picked him up again, went back into the garage, and watched as he barley squeezed through the kitty door.

Mr. Mingles needs to lose some weight. I can’t figure out how to make this happen. I carefully measure out his meals and I take up everyone’s food so there’s no free grazing. Still, he’s as large as a small child and he seems to be gaining weight.

I don’t want to spend the holiday monitoring Mr. Mingles’ movements, but I also don’t want to live in a house that smells like a litter box. Why can’t we all just get along?

Fa-re-ed

Fred the Cat

Today I am grateful for my cat, Fred.

Fred came into our lives a couple of years after we moved into our home of fourteen years. In the move we brought with us a solid black cat named Ray, but about a month after settling in he got out of the house and was probably eaten by coyotes. After trying to adopt a cat from the local animal shelter that turned out to be in poor health, eventually Frank and I found ourselves at Petco looking for a replacement through their adoption service.

There were several cats at Petco from which to choose, but I immediately honed in on a black cat, similar to our lost Ray, and asked a sales associate if I could hold him. Oddly, she replied, “You don’t want that cat. You want this cat.” She opened the cage, picked up a grey tabby, and put him in my arms. He immediately stretched out the length of my arm and nuzzled my neck with his head. The cat soon-to-be-named Fred knew he was going home with us.

Given Ray’s suspected demise, I try to keep Fred and our other critters in the house unless I’m outside and able to watch them. Fred often has other goals. He enjoys waiting inside the house by the interior door of the garage until I drive up to the house and open the garage door. That’s when he makes a run for it via the kitty door. His escape usually amounts to his running across the front porch and along the side of the house to the patio around back where he waits for me to let him back in. It’s a game we play.

Last night after dinner with a friend, Fred and I played this game, only this time he wasn’t waiting on the patio when I opened the sliding glass door to let him in. I called, “Fa-re-ed!” in the familiar way I do with no results. I did this off and on for the next hour, calling his name and shaking the kitty-treat jar. Nearing panic, I expanded my search until I eventually found myself walking through the neighborhood calling, “Fa-re-ed, Fa-re-ed!” along the sidewalk, up to the traffic circle, and around the overgrown briars, milkweed, sumac, and goldenrod on the hill behind our house. Desperate, I looked through the brush toward the patio when I saw a shadow, but in the dark at that distance I couldn’t tell if it was the base of the patio chair or the hoped-for silhouette of a cat. I made my way down the hill and into the yard. The shadow moved. Fred had returned.

I am grateful for Fred the cat and for his return. But as I examine how I felt during the search, I wonder about the nature of gratitude. Does gratitude take us to a place where we try to hold on to something lost? Does being grateful mean we hope to keep situations, pets, relationships, people, the way they are? Did my search and subsequent panic nearing despair make any difference to Fred, or was he in complete control of the situation from the beginning, watching from under a bush, or obliviously enjoying jungle-kitty mode as he stalked a mouse or a mole in the dark? How much of feeling grateful is tied up in actually being selfish, or in trying to control, rather than letting things be as they are?

I held Fred as I sat in a chair outside in the dark, feeding him his favorite treats  and releasing my frustration over the whole ordeal, relieved, content, and grateful.