Cats have got to be some of the most ornery critters. And the most curious. Which makes them some of the most obnoxious. And the most cutest.Yesterday morning, I was out snapping pictures of the autumn loveliness and saw this old lantern sitting on the ground by the tool shed. If you’ve been around here long enough, or if you’ve browsed my galleries, you may recognize it from my black-and-white photograph, “Falling Stars.” I was delightfully surprised. Since it had only ever been hanging in a shadowy corner of the shed, well above eye-level, I’d never realized that it had a blue enamel cap. How lovely!As soon as I set it upright on an old barrel and started to photograph it, Saber thought it was pretty interesting, too. And as soon as he thought it was interesting, the kittens joined him. These cats really are wonderful company – they’re extremely social and friendly, and often come check out whatever projects I might be working on outside. Except for when I mow the lawn. They hate that. But their friendliness can sometimes translate to in-the-way-ness.So my still life study quickly became a not-so-still life study. Because cats do not sit still, especially if you want them to. Cats and autumn. And old lanterns. Three really beautiful things.
Okay, there’s another cat in the family…Actually, there are three, since Kashka had another litter of kittens back in April and somehow we ended up keeping all three. I have to say, it has been a delight. And Anna further delighted me by gifting me one of that litter. Ember was the first, a year and a half ago, and then this little adorable devil kitten was gifted to me just a few weeks ago or so. I almost refused her, but she snagged my affections pretty hard.
Of all the cats we have had, this one thrives on physical affection the most. We’ve never had a cat that would cuddle (and I mean cuddle) and submit to being held for a half hour or more at a time. I love it. She is terribly affectionate, purrs like a motorboat when I so much as look at her, attacks me while I sleep (one of her not so nice characteristics), and literally has climbed our walls. She’s hilarious.
I’m not generally an advocate for cat collars, unless, of course, they’re town cats and tend to be “about town” cats. However, we now have three black cats (Kashka isn’t very creative with the colors of kittens she has), and two of them are virtually identical, except one is a boy and Cinders is a girl. It is a little awkward to have to “check” each time I want to identify one from the other. Thence, the collar. Makes it a lot easier.
As a teenager, I would occasionally joke about one day being the crazy cat lady (I’ve always loved cats), always attaching it to a hypothetical future day when I was “old and single”, old at that time being 30. I never really thought it would happen since I was allergic to cats at that time, and I really didn’t think I’d still be single that far in the future. It was just something funny I’d say to get a reaction or something, when I was 16 or so and 30 seemed a loooong ways away. Well, I’m no longer allergic (to our cats, at any rate), and I’m “pushing 30”, as a dear relative reminded me more than a year ago. So I think I can say I’ve reached the status of crazy cat lady, especially when I wake up in the morning with two cats in my twin sized bed with me. It makes me smile.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: God was so good to bless us with animals. So much was wrecked after Adam and Eve and their sin destroyed the purity and perfection of Creation. But God in His goodness has left so much beauty and joy and delight to cause us to wonder and marvel and praise Him. Little tastes of Eden.
We’ve had our share of rattlesnake encounters over the past few years, including three that our dad has killed up by my grandma’s house. So sorry, to anyone who might be offended by that. But Dad can’t hear the rattle, so it really is a matter of safety, and our uncle’s dog got bitten by one two years ago, so we’re inclined to have a little animosity towards the critters. But I digress. When I got home last night and saw one of the kittens headed towards something darkly colored and mottled and narrow lying in the grass, I had a little panic moment. I kind of love our cats. But when it didn’t strike them (and when I got more than a quarter-second impression and reaction), I inspected the critter closer and found this ugly cute salamander.
He was a large variety (the shoe is for scale), and wasn’t too happy the kittens were inspecting him. We’ve never really encountered these out here at our place, since there isn’t ever really any permanent moist-ness, but there he was. I scooped him into a box and deposited him a ways away, since I read that salamanders, including the western tiger salamander (this guy) are toxic to a certain extent and figured I’d get him out of the cats’ reach. I’d be more than happy for some input from anyone who knows more than the internet on this matter, especially since my experience is that the internet tends to exaggerate. For instance, I read that aloe is poisonous to cats, but I have a friend who had an aloe plant, until her cat ate it. The cat was fine.
Anyway, what a strange neighbor.
One year (plus a little) ago, Anna gifted me with the sweetest gift anyone has ever given me, the little cat, Ember. The spontaneity is part of what made the gift so sweet. But Ember was a creature Anna knew I would love. And she was so right.
When she first became mine, she was a flighty, timid little thing that I doubted would ever be a house pet. She was scared of everything, scared of the dogs, scared of the ordeal of getting past the dogs to come into the house, scared of any sudden movement, etc., etc., etc. So I also doubted that she would ever be my cat, in the sense that she would respond particularly to me. Now, cats aren’t exactly lauded for their human bonds and really have kind of a reputation in the other direction, but over the months, Ember has become very specifically my cat. Enough so that she went on a hunger strike while I was in Alaska over the summer, and the tiny cat became the emaciated cat. She’s better now.
What a transformation little Ember has undergone! She went from being a stand-off-ish, aloof creature, to being a lively member of our small household. I love waking up to find her curled up in a little ball in the crook of my knees, or sleeping right on my chest. Frequently she is awake before I am, but as soon as she hears me moving around, she comes up the ladder into the loft, talking and chattering, and begs for attention. She has become a study buddy for some online classes I’ve been taking, and a movie-watching buddy on sister night. She keeps me company when I’m folding laundry, or cooking, or reading, and has her favorite places she likes to hide. She comes to her name, loves to talk, and if she happens to be inside when I get home, she greets me eagerly. What a darling.
People who don’t like cats just haven’t met the right one.
This cat’s instinct is up. I’m afraid it is awfully fun to watch the dogs chase him. He gets so worked up and shoots straight up the nearest tree. Hilarious. The dogs don’t stand a chance. Not to mention, if they ever did catch up with him, they’d have a whirlwind of razor-sharp claws to deal with. As a young kitten, he frequently got himself stuck up by the downspouts and couldn’t figure out the way down. At first, we rescued him. One of the times I found him up there he was panting – yes, panting. Cats aren’t supposed to pant. It was pathetic. We finally decided that he’s a big boy and needs to figure this out on his own. So now we leave him. But this escape location was a new one. I laughed and laughed. It took him awhile to work up the nerve to jump down.
He was a little ticked. Sarah’s comment on the state of this cat was, “It’s awesome when Saber is mad.” Pretty much summarizes Saber. And we love the little (big) guy.
My cat is always one of the highlights of my day. Her little pointy face, her little purr, her little talking sounds – Cats are one animal that seem to be this close to being able to speak. I look into her wide eyes, and she seems to really have something to say. Ember and I talk back and forth, and she follows me around like a little puppy, or watches me while I’m doing this and that. Precious. After Luna’s sad ending (kidney stones and complications, as far as we know), and Ember urinating blood the week after Luna died, I’ve been more inclined to err on the side of caution (i.e., spoiling the cats) and give the cats a small amount of canned cat food most days, watered, to make sure they’re not dehydrated, since apparently that is one way to try to prevent kidney stones from occurring in the first place. Anyway, the cats aren’t complaining. I sure love their happy eating noises.
These cats may be a little spoiled. But they’re happy. And they love me.