Saturday, 26 July 2008

I tot I taw a putty tat

It's my third morning in the second of our two house-sits of our eighth strategic retreat to Victoria to a) preserve what little sanity I have left; b) avoid as much of the humid Ottawa summer as I can; and c) visit Demeter. Reason "a" has been under fire this week. Due to an overlap in house-sits I've actually been responsible for two houses, three cats and one gerbil for two days of this week. Now I'm down to one house, two cats and one gerbil. This should be a relief; I've just let the two enchanting bird-killers out after their non-bird breakfast.

See, we have an indoor cat. I remember not long after we adopted her, a brother of one of elder daughter's schoolmates was horrified at our cruelty: "You keep her locked up?" It wasn't that I was unsympathetic. All three cats under my care this week are outdoor cats, and they evidently enjoy their excursions. (Just try getting them back in; but more on that later.) I don't remember what I told that young boy then. I may have mentioned racoons. We were still living in Victoria then and a racoon family made irregular visits to our backyard. Racoons can tear up a small pet nicely. Cougars (also seen in our neighbourhood) won't leave much to tear up. It's rare for indoor cats to get fleas, and there's always the issue of the bird population which, I'm given to believe, is decimated yearly by domestic and feral cats. And indoor cats undoubtedly live longer, no matter what you may think about their quality of life. Our neighbourhood in Ottawa is littered with missing cat posters.

However, these are outdoor cats and my job this summer is keeping them alive until their owners return. "Getting the cats indoors for the evening is tricky," chirruped my long list of instructions for this particular house. No kidding, lady. I've cared for several cats in my house-sitting career, but the two feline non-occupants of this particular house are naughty adolescent cats. Witness recent events:

Our second day in House-sit #2, we return from a day of swimming lessons and checking on House-sit #1 and resident elderly creaky cat. Ginger Teen-cat and Winsome Teen-cat appear from garden, enter the house with us, only to be informed that it's only 3 pm and their dinnertime is at five. Both vanish into the backyard.
4pm: Winsome Teen-cat checks in to see if I meant it about dinner. I did.
5pm: Winsome Teen-cat digs into dinner, and since there's no sign of Ginger Teen-cat, has a good go at his dinner. Odd, since the lengthy list of instructions insists that Ginger Teen-cat is the glutton.
6pm: Winsome Teen-cat makes a quick appearance to butter up All-powerful Tin-opener and Food-giver (that would be me). No sign of Ginger Teen-cat.
7pm: See 6pm.
8pm: As I sit in a garden chair chatting to Resident Fan Boy and Elder Daughter in Ottawa, Winsome Teen-cat strolls up from side garden, hops into my lap for an ingratiation session, then streaks due east and vanishes. I worriedly mention to RFB that I haven't seen Ginger Teen-cat for five hours, particularly worrying as he hasn't shown up for dinner.
9pm: As darkness begins to fall, I rattle the food tin. Ginger Teen-cat appears out of nowhere. No sign of Winsome Teen-cat.
10pm: Getting a tad frantic; it's been a long day; we need to get up early for swimming (having missed this morning's bus --- thereby hangs a tale [not a cat's tail]; younger daughter is dragging herself through evening toiletry routine, and I'm in the back yard, rattling the tin and calling, with visions of racoons and cougars in my head. Can't resist checking out front door, so Ginger Teen-cat bolts between my legs and ignores my pleas. I slam and lock the front door, having first checked it to see that I haven't left the key in the lock. Like last night...
11pm: One more desperate try. Damn their reflective almond-shaped eyes.
4am: Check front door to be effusively greeted by Winsome Teen-cat who seems very pleased to see me. My own feelings are somewhat mixed. No sign of Ginger Teen-cat.
7am: Ginger Teen-cat strolls in as if nothing whatever is amiss.

This may be a rather long summer. They both came in together last night at a reasonable hour, although they lolled hopefully by the front door until I turned the lights out and trod meaningfully upstairs.

I have changed the names of the felonious felines to protect their doting owners. Likewise, the above photo is not of Ginger Teen-cat, but a picture I've stolen from the Internet, namely a blog specializing in cat photography. I'm not sure if Shiro Ang is personally acquainted with the anonymous ginger tom, but I'm sure he's a rascal. The tom, that is. If I ever figure out how to upload and then remove photos from a computer that is not my own, I will desist from borrowing other people's work, but maybe my crime is less if you go visit Shiro Ang's blog and leave a nice comment.

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