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Category Archives: cat

The Summer of the Mouse

This cat is the nicest, cuddliest, sweetest cat ever.

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But this summer, she’s been slacking off.

This summer, we have caught fourteen mice in our trap under the kitchen sink. Fourteen! What happened to our fierce hunter? Is this the same cat, who, just six months after we got her, joyfully deposited a dead mouse at my feet on Christmas morning? Is this the same cat who spent the following six months killing mice out in the field and bringing them to the back porch to win approval?

Perhaps we should cut back on her allotment of kibble. Maybe she’s gotten spoiled by evenings on my lap, head rubs, and belly scratches.

After all, just the other day when I was singing her a song, she actually put her paw on my mouth with a look that said, “Hush. Just be a pretty face.”

Perhaps she is spoiled rotten.

But just when I think she has turned from mighty hunter to worthless lap-cat, she kills another mouse, as if to prove to me that she’s worth it.

And the purring and cuddles are pretty nice, too.

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Beatrice Smart is the main character in the middle grade novel I’m writing. She has a vivid imagination that takes her on all sorts of adventures! Beatrice also has a cat. His name is Mr. Wiggles. Next month, I’ll share a story about Beatrice and Mr. Wiggles.

Bird Blood

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Scritch, scratch, flutter.

A bird in the chimney. We’ll have to get the nest out before we start lighting fires this fall.

The dogs and the cat sniff and investigate.

Flutter, scritch-scratch.

No, a bird in the actual wood stove. Hm. Structured as metal cylinder with a window of old mica, the stove is such that we can’t see inside, but we know the bird is there. Its wings whisper against the metal and its feet and beak scrape against the sides.

“Should I open it and take a look?”

“Only if you want a bird in the house instead of in the stove.”

Unlatch, creak, the door opens. The dogs are on alert, and the cat springs. It is in her mouth in an instant.

But because she is a cat, she is less interested in a quick kill than in the thrill of the catch, and she lets the injured avian go. We don’t know its fate. Had she dealt it a bite from which it could not recover? Is it dying somewhere under the furniture?

A few hours later, I hear fluttering again, and I think perhaps it is outside the kitchen window, until my eyes are drawn upward and I see the bird sitting on top of a large kettle on the shelf above my head. The cat also hears and sees and is on the prowl again. The bird flits down lower, a disastrous mistake. The cat pounces and has it in her mouth again, and this time the bird does not recover. After she plays her deadly game a while, we take her toy away, noticing that rigor has begun to set in. The bird goes in the trash can, and the cat licks her paws and blinks in a self-satisfied way.

Only later do I notice the bird blood on my floor. I’ll have to mop that up. Until I get the chance, it is a reminder of kitty’s first bird.

The Swirl

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At 9pm, my eyes get sandy and my energy drops.  Time for bed.  I tuck myself under the covers and drift to sleep.

At 2am, my bladder wakes me and I pad off to the bathroom.  When I return to bed, I snuggle back in, thinking that sleep will return to me.

Instead, a hurricane of thoughts fills my head.  Lessons I need to plan, copies I need to make, a quiz I need to alter.  The research paper I need to write for the class I’m taking.  And when will I get it done with house guests two weeks in a row and a mini-vacation planned after that?  And the refrigerator needs to be cleaned, and I forgot to buy flea prevention for the dogs.  There’s a log cabin show at the state fairgrounds this weekend.  Where will I buy the fruit trees I want to plan and when should I plant them and where?  Do I really want the strawberries where I had originally planned them?  If we buy a tractor, will there be enough money left to purchase the supplies to build an outhouse this summer?

I roll over, hoping a change in position will help.  The cat shifts her weight on my legs, wondering why I’m disturbing her sleep.

I remember I didn’t put away the laundry yet, or vacuum the living room rug.  I wonder if bleaching the well is the best way to get rid of the sulfur smell in the water.

The cat box needs to be cleaned.

I ask God to clear my mind so I can get back to sleep.

Will the research project I thought of for my eighth graders be too hard?  Is it okay if it’s hard because they need a challenge?  Why haven’t we heard back from the meat processor about the deer Stephan took there a few weeks ago after he hit it with his car?

Flip the pillow to the cool side.  Look at the clock.  Thirty minutes have passed.  Forty-five.

Everything I just thought about runs through my head again, this time in a different order.  Trees, tractor, strawberries, outhouse, research, guests, fridge, vacuum, lessons, laundry.

I try to release it all, but mostly it continues to run in the mental hamster wheel.

My eyes droop again, and I hope this time it will be for good.

Soon, it will be time to get up.

Thinking Ahead

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I’m a list maker, a planner, a thinker.

Each work day, I consider what needs to be done and I cross the items off as I accomplish them.  Copy handouts.  Grade essays.  Write test.  Plan next week.

The same thing happens at home.  Clean bathroom.  Do laundry.  Trim dogs’ nails.  Wash dishes.

I’m always thinking about what’s next, what needs to be done.  Planning is not only enjoyable to me.  It’s how my brain works.  At work, I’m already considering next year and how I’ll change the lessons I did this year.  What I’ll tweak, add, toss.  At home, there is much to do on our new place.  It’s hard even to know where to begin.  Cut down dead and dying trees.  Pull out mulberry bush.  Plant flowers.  Plant garden.  Build outhouse.  Build treehouse.  What about fixing the pool?  When will we start on the cottage?  I overwhelm myself sometimes.

Sometimes, I have to stop.  I need to enjoy the present.

Over spring break last week, I could have spent the whole week working and planning for school.  But I would have missed out on lunch with a friend, naps in the recliner, a journey through a good book.

I could bury my face in my computer or my books, researching and planning what’s next on the farm.  But then I might not relish the kitten sleeping in my lap.

I need to add some things to my to-do list:

Slow down.

Enjoy the moment.

Just be.

Kitty

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The whole family loves our kitten, Nova.  She and Gracie play together often.

She loves to sit on our laps.  She nuzzles my face and likes to cuddle.  Sometimes she will butt me with her head in order to get chin rubs or head scratches.  Recently, she even stood on her hind legs and hugged my leg.

SONY DSCNova is curious and friendly.  We feel lucky to have her.

Critters: Part 3

The cats seem finally to be out from under the house.  The mouse had been MIA, so we speculated that it decided there were far too many predators in our home for this to be his home as well.

Only, a few days ago, the cat and both dogs seemed really interested in this spot behind the sideboard in the dining area.  The dogs would go over an sniff and look around.  The cat would crawl underneath to investigate.  I never saw anything, and Stephan said he even moved the furniture out and saw nothing.

Christmas morning, I got up, let the dogs out, fed all the animals, and puttered around a bit.  Finally, I went to get dressed.  Stephan walked out into the kitchen and yelled, “Karen!  You have to come see this!”

It was a dead mouse, right in the middle of the floor.

It looked like it had been dead a couple of days.

“I can’t believe you didn’t see this when you got up,” he said to me.  I insisted it wasn’t there earlier. I surely would have noticed it.

So I think the pets finally caught it, and then saved it, hidden, behind the sideboard, until Christmas morning when they could give us a gift.

Well, can you prove they didn’t?

Critters, part 2

A wee kitten under the house meowed piteously all day.

Before sunrise, I heard its tiny cry.

In the late morning, it was mewing again.

And as the sun began to set, its itty bitty voice was raised in despair.

At first I thought that perhaps the Mama Kitty had gone off to hunt, and baby was just hungry and missing her.  But the longer it went on the more I began to wonder if Mama Kitty was coming back.  By evening, I began to speculate that the rest of the family had moved on, and this little one was left behind.

As much as I don’t want a bunch of feral cats around reproducing, this peewee tugged at my heart strings.

But how was I to rescue it?  It’s under the house — directly under the bathroom, from the sound of it.  I went outside to investigate where the hole had once been.  The hubs had blocked it up (to prevent cats and other animals from getting underneath), and while I could pry the metal siding loose, I’m sure I frightened the kitten by doing so.  When I opened it up, I didn’t have a very good view of the underside of the house, and I couldn’t see the wee one anywhere.  I was also unable to leave it open enough to provide food for the kitten while also keeping other animals out.

I went to the other side of the house where there were two other holes that have also been shut.  Only one seemed likely.  I just slightly pulled away the items blocking the opening, and next to it I placed a milk crate that inside it had a jar lid, in which I had put a little cat food.  I’m hoping the milk crate will keep other critters out and will protect the food for its intended recipient.

SONY DSCFor a while, the kitten quit crying, and I was hopeful that it found the sustenance I left for it.  But less than an hour later, I heard it again, so I’m not sure.

I guess I’ll check in the morning to see.