A few weeks ago, the blog topic was to write about a favorite pet. I was going to do so then but life got busy and I never got around to doing it. I figured I can still do it any way so here goes!
I read a the post of a friend on Facebook today, lamenting the fact that after moving into their new house she discovered she had some um... univited guests. They were small, gray and furry with long tails and bright evil-looking eyes. Everyone sympathized and then posted their suggestions for removing the little squatters from the premises. The two most popular suggestions were cats and devices that emit sounds that supposedly irritate the creatures to the point that they leave. Some people will swear by the latter whereas others just as adamantly say they are a worthless piece of junk. As for cats, well, I suppose the same is true. I have friends who have told me they have so many mice you would never know there was a cat on the premises and then there are my cats.
I have had four cats over the years. The first cat, with the fearsome-sounding moniker of "Squeaky" was the proverbial alley cat. I got him from my piano teacher when he was not quite six weeks old. She normally did not give kittens away until they were six weeks old but Squeaky looked more like the kitten of a black panther than that of an ordinary house cat. He was larger and stronger than any of his siblings and that was beginning to cause a problem.
I carried him home under my coat on a cold late winter day. I wanted to call him Midnight but my dad, hearing his squeals, suggested that I name him Squeaky instead. He grew into a long, lean black cat with a patch of white fur on his tummy and weighed in at 30 pounds. Note that I said he was long and lean. When people spotted him they would stop what they were doing, stare at him and say, "Is that a cat? Wow! He looks more like a panther!" Squeaky of course, was an expert hunter who not only brought down small game but also terrorized every dog in the neighborhood. Alas, someone poisoned him when he was but seven years old. I was heart-broken for I was very fond of my ferocious cat who had a soft-spot in his black heart for me.
After my husband and I got married, we briefly had a cat named Kit Kat who was also an excellent mouser. My husband had spotted a mouse in our apartment and wisely casually suggested that we get a cat rather than actually tell me he had seen a mouse.
You see, I have a confession to make. I have uh... musophobia. Sigh... Over the years, I have learned this is actually linked to the startle response. What that means is I can look at the little critters in a cage and feel nothing but if one suddenly darts in front of me (or I have reason to believe one might) well... that is a different story. I blame it on the fact that one jumped in my face when I was three years old. I had followed my mother into the dormer attic and was playing near some boxes when I startled a mouse... and it startled me. I've never been the same since.
My husband knew this so rather than alarm me, he suggested getting a kitty to which I whole-heartedly agree because I had been wanting to get another kitty. After a few weeks of seeing no further evidence of mice, he came clean and told me the truth. The invader was gone and I need not fear its return for Kit Kat was on guard. Whew!
After we moved, Kit Kat vanished and we were "cat-less" for about a year and a half until we moved again. This time, we moved into a house that had been vacant for two months in late summer/early fall and guess what. There were squatters so a nine-month old cat which we named Philo moved in to deal with the situation. I gravely informed Philo of the situation on the way home. I told him that the mice weren't the least bit afraid of me. The other day, one had casually walked down the steps and jumped up on the back of the sofa and sat there staring at me, daring me to do something about it.
Philo said nothing but his eyes narrowed reassuring me that unlike myself, he was not going to stand for any lip from any rodent and he would clear the premises of the invaders as soon as we got home. He was true to his word. A few hours later he crawled up into the basement ceiling and we heard a blood-curdling scream. He climbed down again and that was that. I never saw another mouse in my domain for over 16 years. Good kitty!
Then there is Nix. His predecessors had all been long, lean cats whereas Nix was small and lean. When I got him, he was eight months old and weighed less than six pounds. The heaviest he has ever weighed in at is eight pounds. From the start we recognized that Nix was a gymnast so my husband built him a huge cat tree which he has wrecked havoc on over the past 14 years. I hoped he would be a good mouser and I have to say, he definitely is.
Until the rules recently changed in our neighborhood, Nix roamed outdoors as freely as he roamed indoors. There is a small woods behind our house and Nix would bring me gifts to show that there would be no unwelcome guests in my home as long as he was on duty. I would have taken his word for it without the evidence, sigh...
He was born a "runt" and even now is quite small but whenever he sees the vet, which isn't very often, she always marvels at his incredible strength as well as his health. She shakes her head and says, "If I didn't actually know how old he is, I wouldn't believe it for he seems a good five or six years younger than what he actually is."
Though naturally shy, his friendliness toward people wins out over his shyness in the end. He will tentatively creep out and give you a chance. If you are gentle and friendly, he will be your friend for life unless you are a mouse. Then he reveals that under that under his soft exterior there is the heart of a warrior who shows no mercy to his enemy. Then he fearlessly protects my home and hearth from invaders. He is my hero!