Kitty Saga Part 2: Living with the beasts
It’s now been a few months since the great kitty rescue debacle, and things have settled to some degree. Of course, we are now learning just how interesting it is to live with two young cats that spent their formative years Dumpster diving and avoiding humans.
First off, we learned that cats are not like dogs. I mean not even close. They might both be four-footed mammals, but that’s as far as it goes and I think the cats generally deny being four-footed or mammals. I have the distinct impression they see themselves as equal to humans, but smarter and more god-like in some ineffable manner.
On a daily basis, living with two cats involves a couple of new tasks not in any way connected with previous dog experience.
First is feeding. Every morning and at about 4 p.m. every afternoon, our otherwise quiet cats turn into loud, pushy furry vacuums in search of wet cat food. They constantly revolve about our feet as we try and move from the cabinet where their cans are stored to the counter where we open and put the stinky mush into bowls for them. The minute the can pops open, they go into hyper-drive and start literally climbing the cabinets and attempting to trip us in a rush to get to the now-accessible food.
Once the food is in the bowls, getting it to the floor involves a balancing act that makes tight-rope walking look easy. I kind of wonder if their secret desire is to cause us to trip, fall, drop the food, and knock us unconscious, allowing them instant access to spilled food and our tender body as a dessert item.
Once the food has been served, silence descends as they attack the food with a vengeance that is normally reserved for cheetahs that have just felled an antelope. Feeding the dog involves putting dry food in the bowl and walking away. The dog wanders over and eats when she feels like it, or when the cats have stopped sneaking in and eating her food.
And immediately following the food insanity is the litter box.
Cat people always say that cats are very clean and fastidious little people. They seem so on the surface, but anyone who has lived within a two-mile radius of a kitty box will attest to the fact that they may be clean, but their waste products reek!
It takes a covered, filtered box filled with scented, clumping litter and multiple cleanings per day to keep our house from smelling like a landfill on a hot August afternoon just after a delivery of rotted fish guts and a tanker full of raw sewage.
Suffice it to say that, in comparison, the dog is a paragon of poop virtue.
Another area we learned about is the sheer destructiveness of cats. Yes, I know that stories of dogs chewing things up are legion, but having a tiny, aging, mostly toothless Chihuahua as the only canine rep in the house doesn’t really do much on that score.
To cats, any object is a toy and the ability to knock it over, tear it to shreds, toss it around, and spread it through the house is considered good sport. Thus, I have watched in awe as they destroy whole houseplants, knock useful items to the floor, bat around wood pellets like they’re the best toy ever invented, and get weird and wild on catnip-filled mice.
Watching two cats play and romp is very entertaining but you have to wonder what they’re really practicing for. Some books and articles suggest it’s their hunting behavior, which would be fine except the only thing for them to hunt in the house is the aforementioned geriatric Chihuahua and the humans.
Perhaps they’re in training to get outside and kill small animals. But we don’t plan on letting them out due to their history and only slightly civilized behavior. Besides, the rescue groups suggest keeping them as indoor beasts and we’re going with that.
In general, the kitties are a nice addition to the house (though the dog would argue that point) and we’re pleased they seem happy and healthy. But you have to admit that they sometimes get a certain gleam in their eye that suggests ulterior motives to their behavior.
I remember the sort of damage Toonces the cat who could drive used to do on Saturday Night Live and I know my insurance company would not take kindly if these two got hold of my keys. But for now, all seems well. So, has anyone seen the dog recently? Uh oh.
Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg describes himself as a long-time animal fan and lifelong dog person, and says he whole cat thing is still being taken under advisement.