Friday, September 28, 2007

a tale of some cats

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), American naturalist and writer

yesterday afternoon four of our five cats decided that they were going to shake things up. I don't know who instigated the action, but the cats succeeded in creating a bit of a catastrophe about the house. after getting home yesterday afternoon, I opened the door to the third floor studio. tsuki was meowing that he wanted to go up and visit stella (the studio cat). I opened the door, tsuki ran up. I then proceeded to go about my business. about an hour later I had to go up to the studio to wrap up the nesting village quilt. any minute aw was stopping by to pick it up. when I got up to the third floor, the fan that is normally in the rear window was on the floor. most curious. I looked out the window onto the small roof that shelters the second floor porch and looking up at me are tsuki and gwen (gwen, a cat who incidentally knows better than to go up to the third floor) . oh shit. I reach out the window, grab tsuki who is an arm's length away and haul him into the house. I look at gwen, she's a bit further out, I call to her to come closer. gwen looks at me. she's a cat, cat's don't listen very well. within seconds I see her face transmogrify into her gwen-the-feral cat face. and I think OH SHIT.

gwen starts moving, but instead of moving towards me, she moves and jumps into the window of lin's third floor, which is just two inches from my third floor window. the window is open, screenless, and has a fan in it which does not quite fill up the entire space.

I actually have lin's key in my pocket, when I returned home from work, as is my custom, I opened her door and let her two dogs out so they could have a bit of a 'constitutional.' I run down the two flights of stairs, across the front porch. startle the sleeping dogs who I'm sure are thinking "what are you doing here? didn't you just let us out?" I tell the dogs to stay, I run up the stairs to the lin's second floor, open her door to her third floor, close the door (all I need are the dogs following me as I set out to retrieve gwen), run up the flight of stairs to lin's third floor and glance around - no gwen. I see the cover to the attic 'crawl space' is open. oh, double shit!

the space is just the perfect size for a small cat like gwen. gwen is freaky. gwen likes to get into trouble. gwen after all is the same cat who went missing for two weeks and for two weeks we thought she was dead. but wait, what is that between some boxes on the other side of the room? it is a bit of fuzzy whiteness and there's a black patch - ah, it must be gwen. I start to walk over to the boxes. fuzzy white animal sees me, makes a dash, races by me at lightening speed, jumps out the space between the fan and the window sill onto the roof. I run over. remove the fan. look out the window, glance about, no sign of cat. I think, weird, gwen looked a little like stella just then.

I reverse course, run down two flights of stairs, run across front porch, run up two flights of stairs, go into my studio, call out for stella. no sign of stella. what's that I hear? meowing from the window. I walk back. stick my head out the window, look up to the tip top of the house. what the hey! it's stella! it was stella who streaked by me and flew out the window! I try and convince stella that she can jump down or walk down the pitched roof connecting the top part of the house roof to the second floor porch roof. she won't have anything to do with the thought.

she continues to meow piteously. I lean out the window, stretch and reach up. I try to grab her, but my arms are not long enough. I look out and I think, "well I could climb out to the roof" but then I look down. I think of my conversation the previous evening with my brother. I had just told him about my friend andy dying and he told me about a man he knows who also just died. this man fell off the roof of his house. perfectly healthy man. just fell. zap. off the roof. dead. I think nah, the cosmos is telling me something I do not talk on the phone with my brother very often.

I do not climb onto the roof. again, I reach, I stretch, I grab stella's ear I try to get something besides her ear. I can not. stella backs away. stella then comes back to the edge. she wants to be rescued. she meows again. I reach again. once more grab, once again I only get ear. I give up. my arms are not long enough. stella is not brave enough. I cry.

I call f and tell him what is going on. I know he wants to work late. he tells me to hold fast and the cats will come out and come down. I take little comfort in his advice. I run back next door to see if I can get gwen. I get up to lin's third floor. the dogs are silent. they know something is amiss, smart dogs, they don't want any part of it. I remove the covering completely to the attic cubby. guess who is sitting there like some sort of egyptian cat goddess? gwen? no! it is rosie. rosie my black cat, rosie who likes to sneak up to the third floor and sleep high up on piles of batting. rosie who often sleeps. but sometimes rosie likes to attack and when she attacks, I call rosie "evil rosie."

I now see all the pieces of the mystery coming together. I have a fairly good idea of who the instigator of this mess is. she is sitting right before me. she looks at me with her cat goddess eyes and gives a mona lisa smile. I reach in. I pick her up. she does not protest or run. I hug her close. I say. bad rosie. evil rosie. I take her to my house. I keep the door to the third floor closed. I cry. damn cats. I hear cat crying. I look out the third floor window for stella. I do not see her. but I hear her crying on the roof. I run down the stairs. I look up at the side of the house. she is on the move. I pull out my cell phone, I call the fire department. I ask if they are interested in helping a cat and a lady in distress. I am transferred three times. each person is very nice. however, they do not help cats and ladies in distress. I laugh.
I return to lin's third floor. I see gwen in the cubby area. gwen sees me. gwen is still being feral gwen. gwen turns and goes into a space in the eaves.

soon my I receive a textmessage. it is f. he texts me that he is on his way home. ten minutes later f arrives. he goes up to the third floor. stella is back at the rear of the house. stella is smart. she wants to be rescued. f climbs out the window before I can say anything. I keep my mouth shut about my brother's story for I know that story was for me. I say some hail mary's, I flash on animal friends, I think of a raven, a deer, and a mouse. I know f will be fine, I know stella will be fine.

f does fine on the roof. he rescues stella and hands her to me. I hug stella and tell her not to ever do that again. stella is smart. stella will not do that again. f climbs into the window. stella throws herself at his feet and stretches out and asks as only a cat can for f to rub her stomach.

f and I talk about the gwen situation. I am resigned to wait her out. we will put food, water and a litter box on the third floor next door. I have faith. gwen will miss sleeping between f and I. she will come out. she will decide she doesn't want to be feral gwen any more. until then lin will have a cat living in her attic.


Unknown said...

As a longtime cat owner, I can sympathize. One cat I had, Buster, brought a live squirrel into my apartment at six a.m. one morning and deposited the thing in the middle of my futon as a present. That was a festive morning and a long story.

I used to see Buster's sister, Molly, on the roof of the apartment building periodically. I would come down a long flight of concrete steps on the opposite side of the complex and see her, small, gray, beautiful, and spunky, on the peak of the roof. As soon as she would spot me, she would start to meow, and I would dutifully make my way to the back of the building. I would lean against a tall, burly tree, trying my best to not fall into the concrete pit that constituted my patio and coax her down bit-by-bit. First, I'd have to convince her to go from the roof to a branch of the tree, and then would have to con her into inching down the trunk until I could grab her. The first time was the worst: It took about an hour. After that, with practice, we were able to get it down to about 15 minutes.

It wouldn't have been worth it had I not loved her so.

Unknown said...

Oh, and just for reference, she would start her journey down from a height of about 20 feet above me.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

that molly she had you! hysterical story! buster really loved you & so talented he actually caught a squirrel - a most difficult feat.

Unknown said...

great posts recently. you're a fabulous writer!

Dumdad said...

Wow, what a cat saga! We only have one cat, Scabby, to deal with. She sleeps outside in her little house in the backyard at night so she gallivants wherever her whims take her.
(She is adored by my children and adores them in return)

lettuce said...

some cats have too much time on their hands!

sneaky pests and pesty sneaks.

This was very entertaining - i've enjoyed catching up on your blog.
And so sorry about your friend andy.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

ah cats.... we do just love them even if they as lettuce so aptly put it they are 'sneaky pests and pesty sneaks!'

dd - your cat sounds like she has 'the life' I'm fortunate that a couple of our cats adore children and tolerate all sorts of 'torture' - I mean loving. gwen likes children if they feed her hot dogs, perhaps I'll see if ms t can lure her to rejoin the family next time she comes over!

pj - thanks. tho the posts have been a bit long. I do go on at times.

update on gwen: she continues to be feral gwen but I'm happy to report she seems quite happy. I sneakily opened the door to lin's 3rd floor and saw gwen sitting regally in the opening of the cubby. I quietly called her (it was after all 5 am this morning, I didn't want to wake lin or her dogs) - instead of coming she turned away and went down into her lair - the eaves.

she is eating and using 'the box' but right now she's happier being queen of the attic and eaves.

(quite conveniently there is a door on the third floor which adjoins the two living units - quite nice and in situations like this very convenient. what a blessing to have a friend living next door!)

Unknown said...

A brilliant bit of writing! I've never understood cats - or rather, have never been inclined to understand them - leaving them to get on with it is my policy - unless they're hunting in my garden, which means war - and then I get more feral than Gwen!

Anonymous said...

Craziness! There must be something in the water on Avenue C to make the animals behave so strangely! One can never tell what troublesome stirrings will cross their minds.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

It seems the cat content is getting higher here, and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

i have to admit, i've never harbored a cat before (only sweet ole mutts...) tho the saga traumatic, kim - you're a total trooper...and glad to know gwen is happy & thriving on the adjacent third to be ever referred to as "chateau d'gwen"

julia said...

This reminds me of the time that Sootie was stuck on a neighbour's chimney stack. The potential for joking was enormous! The UK fire dept insist that you wait 48 hours before they will come to rescue a cat since experience has shown that as soon as they turn up the cat simply jumps down and walks off. not in my case, Sootie was rescued by a fireman smaller than my 12 year old son
As for the times when the kittens were stuck in the conifers...
I am SO glad that dogs don't climb