The great thing about having raised teenagers is that, when your perpetually adolescent cat puts his front paws up on your plant shelf and starts sniffing the various items that are ‘in his spot’, you know exactly what he’s thinking.
There’s a plum tree right outside my window, and the late spring has produced an explosion of blossoms (and hopefully plums) along with a squad of visiting chickadees. A chickadee chirp woke Jim up. He drew himself up into pounce position, turning his head this way and that as the chickadee hopped from branch to branch. Every few minutes he tried the cat equivalent of bunting — pretending to jump at his prey but not really doing anything.
Then the chickadee made a truly bold move, moving to a lower branch with a particularly lovely lunch of blossoms, and Jim had to make a move. I though he might forget that a window lay between them as he launched his front paws on to the plant shelf.
Instead he paused.
I let him sniff for a few minutes and could almost see the thought bubble above his head asking the classic question,
“I wonder what would happen if….”
In this case, ‘if’ was a temporarily forgotten chickadee as Jim tried simultaneously to move a hind leg onto the shelf so he could what would happen if he pushed the squash plant in front off the shelf. But, having watched Thing1 and Thing2 ask (and test) this question at various times about anything that could be climbed, blended, eaten, or flushed, I know when to let the experiment play out and when science is about to run amok.
I clapped my hands once . Jim’s hind foot returned to the poof and his gaze to the chickadee. The bird heard my clap, fluttered across the yard, and, for the greater good, scientific investigation was stymied.
It was almost uncomfortably warm on Saturday so we let the chicks into the chicken tractor to play while they’re current enclosure was cleaned. It was a good chance for them to really meet Jim, Princess Jane, and Katie.
Jane and Jim inspected the chirping babies and, discovering that the tractor was secured by wiremesh at all sides, spent most of the day feigning interest in a chipmunk hunt.
I sat with the chicks for a while, cleaning some garden implements and getting them used to the idea of me as Mother Hen. Eternally loyal, Katie sat with me. As she moved, the chicks often moved with her. She would sniff at them and wag her tail a little as they chirped at her.
The chicks came out of their eggs at the feed store, so the only “mamas“ they’ve ever known are a heat lamp and the changing hands that feed them. Katie was abandoned to a kill shelter as a puppy, and I doubt she had much contact with her mama.
Something in her past or her nature, however, made her loyal and gentle, more than a little bit of a pushover, and, when she has to be, brave. It seemed fitting that, for the moment, they saw her as the “Mother Hen.“
Princess Jane was much more welcoming than we expected when we opened the box of week-old chicks and gently deposited each one into the shaving-filed aquarium where they will live until they feather out. She had, after all, just come inside from disemboweling a chipmunk who made the mistake of venturing out of the woods, but it might have been her full belly that made it possible for her to treat the new arrivals — pullets all – as ladies in waiting rather than waiting dinner.
Okay, okay, I take a lot of pictures of cats, especially happy cats.
The thing is, I was not especially happy just before I took this picture. I was angst-ing over work or money or a story I couldn’t get started, and then Jim-Bob, who had wedged himself on my lap under the computer, patted the laptop with his paw, and stretched out in the seam made by the afghan over my legs.
“Don’t worry,” he was saying. “I’m happy. Pet my head and you can be happy too.”
So I did, and just like Jimmy Durante promised, making that one something happy, for at least a few minutes made me happy too.
So here’s yet another happy cat picture that will hopefully make someone else happy.￼
Real cats, according to Jim, don’t drink out of the water bowl. Drinking water, you see, is not really about hydration. Everything you do as a real cat should establish that everything in the place where you reside is belongs to you.
This is why, for example, when presented with a $.10 beer glass won at a fireman’s carnival, Jim preferred to push aside the flowers that were already there, jam his face into the glass and begin lapping at the water until the level is low enough for him to tip over the glass and spread the rest of the water around. This will teach the humans to exercise more care with “their” things that are actually his.
P. S. Jim was repeating this demonstration with a recycled tin can that currently serves as a watering can but got his face stuck inside the can. When I freed him from said can, he indicated in no uncertain terms that taking or posting any pictures of the fiasco would result in him peeing on everything I own. He would like everyone to know that the tin can still belongs to him.