Jen Jeffrey: The Great Catsby
Rusty is an orange cat who reminds me of the finicky ‘Morris the Cat’ in those old commercials on television. He is the brave kitty and will go off into the woods. He is the loner and has his ways about him, but every now and then, he wants lovin’ too.
Our sunroom which leads out to the back yard is the cats’ domain. I keep it swept the best I can (wearing a yard mask) just to be able to go in the room each morning to feed them. When it is good weather I let them go outside and sometimes while in the open air I will play with them or love on them, but when I come in and my eyes are watering, I have to wash my hands and face.
The cats pretty much keep themselves entertained during the day. Pepper stays close to the house and anytime a human is around, he wants attention (this gives you an idea about all of my 16-legged–kids now if you have read my other articles about the Greyhounds).
Last week when Jason came home for lunch, he walked the Greys while I made tomato bisque and grilled cheese. After he went back to work I wanted to be out in the sunshine and I walked the pooches again, but I also had something different in mind.
When we came back from a ‘winning the lottery walk’ (they both poo’d) I didn’t unleash them when we came in the garage and they got a drink of water. I looked around for two Frisbees and, when I had them in my hand and reached for the kids’ leashes which were still hooked to them, their eyes lit up just like my own sons used to when they knew their Mama was up to something. I could read Spec and Sweetie’s body language, “What are we gonna do, Mama… are you going to play with us?”
They followed me out the garage door, but young Sweetie couldn’t wait! She tried to grab the red Frisbee (their favorite) from my hand so I tucked in under my shirt sight unseen and we headed out toward the barn. If I let them run loose, I would never catch Spec and he would head for the woods so I had the bright idea to go into the fenced in area near the barn. It has a chain-linked fence surrounding the barn, but one side sort of leans a bit and it has not been used for anything since I moved here. The barn is an old tobacco barn and we have talked about getting it ready for horses, but the more we talk about that idea the less we really want to be tied down to a daily caretaking of 800 pound animals. Boarding makes much more sense for us if we get horses, because when we travel we don’t want to worry about their care. My mother in-law will stay over and feed the Greys and the kitties, but horses would be a different story for a woman in her seventies to have to look after.
I wasn’t thinking about the kitties being outside for the day when Spec and Sweetie and I entered through the fence opening. After I closed the gate and unhooked their leashes they were so excited to be able to run around in that little area. Why didn’t we think about this before? I reached for the Frisbees under my shirt and threw the red one first. Sweetie, full of youthful energy chased and caught it before Spec knew what hit him.
I tried to throw it again closer to Spec but little Sweetie still got to it first! I threw the yellow one and Spec wasn’t interested, but Sweetie got it too. I finally learned to grab Sweetie’s collar and throw one for Spec, just to make him feel like he still ‘has it’ and he chased after the red flying disc and caught it while Sweetie obediently stayed next to me.
Spec didn’t want to give the red Frisbee up though. He knew that Sweetie would sink her teeth into it the moment he let go. I got tickled at them as Sweetie, Spec and I played and laughed.
The sound of joy impelled Pepper the cat to come away from the house and over by the barn where we were. Oh boy… I hadn’t thought of that. Could they… would they jump the fence and chase Pepper? Surely not. As Pepper slowly crept closer across the back yard, Sweetie’s gaze was right on Peppers tail swaying back and forth as he walked.
I said, “No Sweetie, come on – let’s play!” The red Frisbee no longer had her attention. Her eyes were wide and wild, her ears were perked and her tongue hung to the side of her mouth. Spec caught a glimpse of the furry creature playing ‘walk and stalk’ and he too was probably thinking of how he could get to the fluffy live toy.
“Pepper… go away. No Pepper,” I firmly warned. But Pepper wanted to play with his big brothers. He is such a loving kitty and he didn’t know to be afraid of the Greyhounds who were salivating as he approached.
I held onto the Grey’s collars as Pepper rolled in the grass and tried to entice his brothers to play with him. I sternly warned Pepper again to go away, but he adorably walked up to the fence and the minute he let out a sweet meow, the hair stood up on the canines’ necks and loud barking ensued.
Wide-eyed and shocked, Pepper’s hair rose on his neck too. His back arched and he looked like any other cat getting ready to hiss and ‘megrowl’ or something… but he didn’t.
Pepper didn’t understand when he didn’t receive the cooing baby-talk, petting and scratching he expected from the three of us. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of the loud noise coming from his canine brother and sister who were snapping at him.
I wondered why he would not go away or run off and then like an electric shock surging through me I thought, “Where is Rusty? What if he is inside the barn?” One of the barn doors was cracked and it was possible that Rusty was inside and could come out into our fenced area at any time. I wasn’t sure I could hold back two greyhounds from their feline brother when they used to chase a fake rabbit around a track!
I led them to the fence gate where their leashes were and clipped the leashes to their collars. Before we left through the gate, I grabbed the Frisbees and Sweetie tried to snatch them from my hands so I tucked the slimy, dog-chewed Frisbees back under my shirt.
Pepper bravely watched us head back for the garage. The pooches stopped trying to get to Pepper, but Sweetie still would not take her eyes off of him.
Back in the Greyhound garage I unleashed the pooches and they lapped up the water in their pail. What a fun time of play! I wanted to check on Pepper and make sure he was okay after the hair-raising fright.
Pepper behaved as if nothing had ever happened. He is so odd and not like most cats. I don’t think he knows how to hiss or me-growl. He is the most loving cat I know. His personality is “I just love EVERYBODY and… if they don’t love me, that is okay, I am still gonna be me.”
And, that’s how I am. I go through life loving people for who they are. I don’t want to hiss at them and I also don’t want them to be something they aren’t. I appreciate what each person brings in this life and I love finding out what that is. If they don’t know what it is they have to bring, I like to help them figure it out. If I get barked at for wanting to make friends with people who don’t play well with others, it’s okay… I just think like Pepper does and still go on being me.
I have a new respect for that cat.