Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cat language

Does your cat meow?  Mine don’t.  None of them.  They each produce a sound that is supposed to pass for a meow, but doesn’t even come close.

We’ll start with the youngest, Gabriel.  Not only was he not paying attention when his mother gave him speech lessons, he wasn’t even in the room.  When he opens his cute little mouth he says “mee”.  Sometimes it’s short, sometimes he stretches out the “meeeeeee” like he’s singing a song. 
It sounds so sad, so utterly pitiful.  Whether he’s crying for food, to get a head rub or to be let into the bathroom, his mournful plea cannot be ignored. 

Next up, Mickey, another one who never learned how to speak cat language properly.  He doesn’t even try.  When Mickey tries to say something he doesn’t get any further than “Eh” or “Ei”.  It’s quite cute, but completely useless.  Not that he’s much of a talker to begin with, he only makes an effort when he wants to play with his laser light.  Once play is over, that’s it for the talking.
He might make an effort to get into the bathroom, but Mick prefers to scratch the door.

Then there’s Charlotte.  Charlotte has a deep, raspy voice, making her meow sounds like “meih”.  Her cry reminds me of a shy old sheep.  Charlotte knows how to purr though, something Gabriel nor Mickey have quite mastered.  Oh they purr, but very, very softly.  Charlotte on the other hand has quite an engine.

Last but not least, Chanel.  Chanel is the talker of the family. She has a whole repertoire of sounds but a proper “meow” isn’t one of them.  Whenever we talk to her, she politely answers, ranging from “mei”, “meei”, “eeeeh” to “mooow”.  Most comical is when she says “now”.  When we ask her “When do you want your food?” she replies with “now”.  When asked again “Do you want your food now?” she’ll confirm that she wants it now.

As for purring … nobody purrs like Chanel.  Whoever she curls up with in bed can forget about sleeping.  She purr so enthusiastically that she sounds like a low flying helicopter.

Cat language … not the easiest language to understand, yet Gabriel, Mickey, Charlotte and Chanel seem to have no problem understanding me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A visitor from Rainbow Bridge

This goes out to Glory, in memory of Zebrina.


Owners of beloved pets, believe that when the pet passes away he moves to Rainbow Bridge.  Some question the truth in that.  Is there a heaven for pets?  As Linda put it … “What kind of a place would heaven be without pets?

Some claim that, after their pet passed away, they felt, heard or even seen the animal.  Far fetched?  Wishful thinking?  Let me put in my two cents (100% true).

In September 2006, Kitty died.  A few months weeks I went to visit my parents in Belgium.  My folks had no pets at the time.

In the second week of my visit, my mom had given me a particular hard time and I felt rather low.  I’d looked forward to this visit, I had flown thousands of miles, and now everything went horribly wrong.

That night when I was in bed I couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned and finally settled on my right side.  I just started to drift off when I felt “something” jump on the bed.  I was instantly wide awake. 

The something approached me from the left side of the bed, walked over to me and nestled behind my knees.  I couldn’t see a thing, the room was too dark, but I knew it was Kitty.  Whenever he slept with me, he always curled up in the crook of my knees.

 Kitty with Strike

Having had other ghostly experiences, which scared the pants off me, this encounter didn’t scare me at all.  I felt the weight and the warmth of Kitty, but no fear.

The next day I couldn’t wait to tell Dieter about my visitor.  My call had to wait though.  With a six hour time difference, 10:00 a.m. in Belgium meant that it was only 4:00 a.m. in Canada and I doubted Dieter would appreciate being woken up at that time.

I patiently waited a few hours until I was sure Dieter would be up.  As soon as I told him about my experience of the night before, he said “Funny you should say that.  I saw Kitty by the door of my room last night.  I only saw him out of the corner of my eye, but I swear he was there.”

I didn’t doubt it for a moment. 

What’s for dinner?

On the menu tonight is chicken in broth, with pumpkin and wild rice. 
Yesterday was mixed seafood in broth, with peas and wild rice.
For tomorrow, salmon and chicken, with carrots and wild rice.
Sounds good he.  Is that what I’m eating?  No, the cats.  I recently switched them from regular cat food to holistic food and they love it.
All except Chanel.  Chanel still prefers Fancy Feast above all. 

Speaking of dinner, I think Mickey has an alarm clock in his stomach.  One moment he will be sleeping peacefully, but when 6:45 p.m. comes around he wakes up to find me.  Dinner time!

While I scoop the food out of the containers, he’s either on the floor waiting patiently, sits on the table anxious for the plate to appear, or with me on the kitchen counter keeping an eye on things.

Once the plate is on the cat table, he’s the first one there and starts munching. 
Charlotte occasionally makes an appearance, but more of than not, I have to go and find her.  “Charlotte, foodie time!” 
She will come and either jump on the cat table, or wait for me to pick her up.

As for Gabriel, I have to wake him up, or pick him up.  Occasionally he will jump on the cat table, but most of the time he will fail miserably.  He will sit on the floor, calculating his jump … one… two … three … no. 
A little later he will try again … I think I can, I think I can … no. 
Maybe third time lucky … I think I can I can … I think I can … I’m kidding myself.

That’s when I pick him up and just put him on the cat table.  Remember the movie “White men can’t jump”?  Well, apparently neither can some cats.
This attempting to jump reminds me of a scene of the TV series “227”, where Mary said “Conceive it, believe it, achieve it” and Lester replied “Can’t get it, regret it, forget it”.  That line was written for Gabriel.

And Chanel you might wonder.  Chanel eats alone, on top of the fridge.  With a bully like Gabriel around I have to feed her separately.

While the cat family is eating, all has to stay dead quiet in the kitchen.  The slightest noise and Charlotte and Gabriel will go running. 
And Mickey … no not Mickey, WWIII can start for all he cares, he’s not moving. 
I can just picture that cat during WWII … “Mickey, came down to the shelter, bombs are falling!”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.”

Okay, it's past 7:00 p.m. … time for dinner.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Every action has a reaction

It’s hard being a cat sometimes, especially if you share a house with other cats.

Even though there are three perfectly good baskets around, whenever there’s a box available Chanel, Mickey, Charlotte and Gabriel will take turns curling up in it.  But sometimes one of them overstays his welcome.  In that case patience goes out the window and it’s time for a little action.

While Gabriel was sleeping in a cardboard box today, Mickey did just that.  He positioned himself close to where Gabriel and looked at him.  Make that, stared at him.  He stared and stared and just when I thought he was about to give up, he stared some more.

Gabriel wasn’t bothered.  Mickey could stare all he wanted, Gabe wasn’t moving.  So what did Mickey do … he bit Gabriel’s leg.  He lowered his head, nuzzled his nose into Gabriel’s long hair, but instead of grooming him, he took a bite.

As planned, this action had a reaction.  Unfortunately Mickey hadn’t thought this one through though.  Yes, Gabriel vacated the box, but Mickey couldn’t immediately take possession of it.  First he had to deal with a mouthful of hair.  That comes of it when you bite a longhaired cat.

Do Mickey and Gabriel fight?  Neih, they’re the best of friends, always have been.

In general it wasn’t Mickey’s day today.  This morning I couldn’t find him.  I wasn’t really worried because I had seen him some five minutes before, so I figured he was probably sleeping somewhere.

While waiting for Mick to resurface I decided to make the beds.  I started with Dieter’s bed, grabbed hold of the duvet and flung it on the floor.  There Mickey was, with some dumb look on his face like “What the hell happened?” 

Did he get up?  If you think he did, you don’t know Mickey very well.  He put his head down and went right back to sleep.  Okay, I would come back later.  Much later.

I moved on to my bed.  Once again I grabbed the duvet and threw it off the bed.  I heard a “clonk”.  That was strange, duvets go down softly, they don’t go clonk.  This time I had interrupted Charlotte’s sleep.  She slunk from under the duvet (that was now in a heap on the floor) clearly not impressed.  She gave me a look that said “What’d do that for?”

This was clearly a no win situation for me.  So I left the beds alone and went to do the dishes instead.  Much safer for everyone.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Accidental or deliberate?

Last night Gabriel joined me in bed, as he does every night.  As usual he wanted to have his head rubbed, his belly tickled and his head rubbed some more. 

Usually he sleeps late (as I do) and we get up together.  Not this morning though.  I woke up from a scratching on the door, followed by “Meow, meow”.

“Ssst,” I shushed sleepy.

This didn’t work, Gabriel cried and kept on crying, he pleas getting louder and louder.

“Gabriel,” I said, “come back to bed and go to sleep.”  In reply he scratched the door some more and let out another couple of “meows”.

“Gaaaaaabriel,” I groaned, “pleeeeease!  It’s too early, come back to bed.”

Gabriel wouldn’t hear of it and meowed more insistent than before.

“GABRIEL!” I yelled, now fully awake.  “What is it with you?  It’s too early."
“Meow” he said in response.

I could have just gotten up and let him out of my bedroom, but it’s was so warm in bed and I wasn’t quite ready to leave, even if it was only for a few seconds.

To my relief Gabriel left his spot by the door and jumped on my bed.  He didn’t curl up though, he stepped on the bed’s headboard and sat there.

I turned over, snuggled under the covers and was just about to doze off when something hard landed right snack on my head.   A stone duck was the culprit, knocked down courtesy of Gabriel he couldn’t keep his paws to himself.  He knocked that duck down to get back at me for not letting him out.   

Accidental or deliberate?  One thing is for sure, when he start meowing tomorrow, I’ll open the door, who knows what else he has in mind.

From there on my day didn’t exactly get better. 

While I was working on the computer later on, I suddenly heard a “tonk”, followed by “splat, splat, splat”.  I was still trying to figure out what the strange noise was when I noticed something moving on Dieter’s nigh stand, where he keeps a fish tank.

On the night stand was a tiny fish, flipping and flapping like crazy.  I immediately rushed to the rescue, but picking up a tiny, slippery fish proved more difficult than I expected.  After a couple of futile attempts I resorted to wiping the fish with one hand into my other hand.  Much like one would brush crumbs off a table.

I worked and once I had the fish I deposited him back into the water.  Oh my heart, my poor heart.  Even though I managed to stay calm during a crisis, once it was over I nearly went horizontal.

I had to tell someone, I had to share this near horrible experience.  So I called the owner of the fish, Dieter.  And what did he do when I told him the horrible tale?  Not what I expected.  He wasn’t shocked, he wasn’t worried, he wasn’t even sympathetic, he … burst out laughing.  Thought the whole thing too funny.  He even posted it on Facebook!

First a cat, then a fish … maybe I should stick to a bird or something.