Friday, March 27, 2015

Sleeping with one eye open

I think the only way my cat could kill me would be by suffocation.  And she probably won’t do that.

I mean, I am a sound sleeper and all, but still.  She only weighs about seven pounds. 

She is a determined little bugger though.

Once, when she was just two years old, she had had it with me.  She put up with my individual failings and only shook her little round kitty head. 

“These humans!” you could almost hear her say.  In her mind, of course.  Out loud she said very little.  The occasional “Yeow!”  That was enough to express her dismay when I blocked her escape from this hellhole of an existence, for example.

She did escape once.  She dashed immediately to the next court over and climbed about 35 feet up a 40 foot eucalyptus tree.  From there she sat like her Cheshire counterpart and observed, ever so quietly, as I made frantic trips up and down the street, back and forth in front of her and to the side, calling desperately, unaware that she perched soundlessly above me the entire time of my anguished search. 

To amuse herself, she kept her vow of kitty silence.  A young man from the neighborhood spotted her and alerted me to her location.  Mr. Plath came and without hesitating, climbed the tree.  He stuffed her into his zip-front hoodie and scrambled down. 

She never even said thank you.

Another time, when Mr. Plath was out of town, she juked me out at the dining room door, ran like I’d set her afire and climbed a redwood tree in the empty lot next door.  She settled onto a limb about 25 feet up.  I did everything I could think of to coax her down, to no avail.

As night settled in, so did a misty rain.  Still she stayed in the tree.  So, unwilling to call the Fire Department – this isn't Mayberry after all – I went to bed, but woke about 3:30 a.m., distraught and guilty.  I stepped out onto our upper deck adjacent to her branch in my sleep-shirt and called her name softly:  “Uma?”

“YEOW!”  She is so loud for such a small creature!  “Yeow!  Yeow!  Yeow!”  OMG!  She’ll wake the entire metropolitan area!  I slunk back inside and got into my cozy, warm, dry bed.

Next morning while she watched, a friend helped me saw away a lower branch so we could prop a 20-foot extension ladder solidly against that redwood’s trunk.  And I climbed up to get her. 

When I arrived and reached for her, she wrapped her little kitty arms around that branch and gripped it as though I were collecting her for a fricassee. 

I steadied myself and pried her loose.  She dug into my shoulder like an osprey into a big mouthed bass.  I didn't have to hold onto her at all on my way back down the ladder, across the lot and into the house where she promptly hopped down, gave her shoulder a couple of cursory licks and went upstairs for a nap.

You’re welcome.

I mention these things as a means of illustrating her attitude.  Why she runs from her sumptuous kitty life defies explanation.  But clearly, things must be just so or she blames me!  The one who bows and scrapes – steps and fetches for her daily.

Eighteen months ago we brought home a playmate kitty specifically for her, to entertain her and keep her company.  We thought she’d be glad.  But for weeks, if that kitten crossed her field of vision, she growled; her ears lay flat and her eyes glowed with hate. 

She punished me by refusing my affection!  If I came close, she tossed her head like a teenager saying, “As if!”

At length and after delicate diplomacy, she and the kitten JJ have achieved détente if not true peace.  She and I are back to our cuddly, purring selves.

But now, the puppy Dewey is on his way and I wonder what precautions I should take.  Not for him – she’ll put him in his place quick enough.  An innocent puppy is no match for her sophisticated maneuvers.

But what about me?  Am I safe?  What price the menagerie?