Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cat Cam

There's a family in Seattle that put a small camera around the neck of their cat and turned it loose around the house and yard a year or so ago, and have become locally-famous for the notion and pictures on their blog.

When our children were growing up, we had cats -- got the first one before my son was born, actually: Shitty Kitty, named because, as we were driving home from getting her, she sat upon my wife's pregnant lap as I drove. Halfway to our apartment, the cat had diarrhea. My wife ended up holding her out of the window as we tooled down the freeway at speed scat spraying along the side of the car, and the situation was not helped by my hysterical laughter and pounding on the steering wheel.

"Steve! Stop laughing! Help me!"

I had tears streaming I was roaring so hard. You had to be there ...

Over the years we have had many cats. My preference for domestic animal company runs to dogs, which are considerably more interactive -- and yes, smarter -- but I like cats. A cat can defend itself against a small child who wants to grab it by the leg or tail -- a quick bat with a clawed paw, or a leap onto something higher than the toddler can reach, end of problem. A puppy? Not so much.

We had a cat that would fetch a ball, Jerry, as well as any dog we ever had would do the trick.

We usually got the cats in pairs: Franny and Zooey; Blackberry and Sunflower; Spot and Stripe. One would either run off or get run over or suffer some other quick end.

Our best cat, Ashes, was a single; though we eventually got her a kitten, Floozy. Got her a puppy, too, Travis. She hated them both. Ashes was part Siamese, and liked to talk; Floozy (Felicia), her kitten, was a silent kitty, until one weekend she got herself up a tree and learned how to call for help. Sixty feet up a Doug fir, and I went up to fetch her.

Ashes used to bring us presents. Once, while we were living out near the end of Olympic Peninsula, we had a big vacant field across the street from us. Ashes began hunting there, and bringing us presents. She'd meow at the front door, we'd open it, and then there'd be a little dead critter on the stoop. First, she collected a shrew. Then a vole. Then mice. A mole. Gopher. Then a rabbit -- albeit a small one -- moving up in size ...

As a writer, I made the leap. That nasty little red-haired boy who liked to ride his bike past while screaming at the top of his lungs? He got dragged onto a doorstep in horror story I wrote, titled "Ashes ..."

Ashes made it to almost twenty years. At the end, she would walk up to the dog food bowl and shoulder Cady and Scout aside. The dogs, German Shepherds ten times her size, would move over and then whine at us. Help! The cat is eating my food! Help!

Stripe was almost twenty-one when he died. Both he and Ashes were inside/outside cats, so to live that long is, if not rare, a good run.

Currently we are sans cat, and apparently the grapevine hasn't gotten the word out, because none have shown up at the gate, looking to be fed and taken in. Only a matter of time, though.

And no, I don't want one of your kittens, thank you ...

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