Lisa, my older sister, asked I take in a stray cat. This was many years ago, when she was living next door to my parents. I said, “Oh no, you know I’m not a cat person.”
Her insistence continued with, “You can bring it back here if it doesn’t work out. This cat needs a home.”
It paid off. Zorro came home with us. I remember calling my sister to tell her Zorro was following me around the house. Her smile could be heard over the phone. “Cats like to be around people,” she responded.
This was the event that transitioned me from joking about cats to falling in love with them.
Today, we have 3 cats. I never thought I’d have one in my house. I always hated when I saw cat or dog hair in people’s homes, and now my couch is covered in white hair from Kiwi, my plus-size cat. I curse every time I clean it off, but I still put up with it.
Our cats follow us around outside. They like to lay down by the base of my container garden pots on my deck when they want to cool off in the summer. They use the gardens and big plants as hiding places when they are sneaking up on the birds. And they investigate anything new in their surroundings, like most cats do. One of Kiwi’s favorite spots is in a white chair located in my yard where it is quiet and restful. It is a little hideout, and she uses it more than I do.
Mini, the smallest of my 3 cats, likes to jump up to rest on top of my hobby-like greenhouses, which I line up along the edge of my driveway in early spring to transition small plants. I always think, “Please don’t stick your claws into the plastic covering.” But I never scold her cause she is too darn cute, and puts up with Kiwi always giving her a hard time, so she deserves a break.
Mini is my favorite. She is very smart. She’s the type of cat that will try to push on the door handle to be let it. I saw her once try to slide the kitchen slider open, like she knew, “Paw goes here, and push to the left.” She likes to sit in bowls or anything that fits her little size. She’s grown since we took her home, but she still remains small. She must have been the runt of the family.
I found Mini during a walk with my walking partner. We were strolling along when we heard a loud meow through the brush. Two black kittens, in the middle of nowhere, abandoned by the roadside. “A common dumping ground,” my friend told me. The smallest of the two kittens started to follow our feet as we continued walking. At first, I tried to not look because I knew I would cave. I swear to God, I heard her (Mini) say, “Don’t leave me here, please.” She was not going to give up, meowing louder and running faster behind us. Later, the vet told me, “She picked you.”
Kiwi never got use to Mini. She constantly harasses her. Whenever she can, she finds a hiding spot to sneak up on Mini. Mini, the cutie that she is, doesn’t fight back much. I have to keep them separated all the time. Kiwi is kind of bratty, or I guess you could consider her a cat-bully. She even tries to bully me from time to time, but guess who wins? (And yes, she is chubby; and no, she is not pregnant – she’s just got special needs.)
All three of my cats are indoor and outdoor. Kiwi sticks close to the house – and despite her weight problem, she has never been attacked by the woodland animals. She can run when she wants to; especially when chasing Mini. Once, I saw her lying on the driveway on her back, howling cat cries, as another stray cat was doing his hissing over her face. This was a funny sight. It was hysterical actually. I broke them up. She is so lazy, she even fights on her back. She can’t jump up to high places, so Mini uses this to her advantage.
But I guess because of her size, Kiwi tends to win. My suspicion is they think she is a big meany. She can be a little naive, and approach things she shouldn’t. Like a turtle revisiting our yard every year to lay her eggs by the pool side. Luckily, Kiwi did not get snapped at. Even the turtle backed down. Kiwi also likes to jump on and play with my small ornamental bunny grasses, as if they are toys.
Mini, on the other hand, had a very bad attack earlier this year. She came home one afternoon, looking up from the base of our stairs outside, and wouldn’t come to the top. We picked her up – and long story short, she got grabbed by a wild animal. Her back end was badly hurt and we rushed her to the vet. Broken pelvis and puncture wounds. Our vet told us, a small animal, had grabbed her. Later, we discovered a photo on a motion censored outdoor camera of a bobcat in our woodlands behind our house. We believe this was the culprit. It was a rough road, but with lots of care and attention, Mini made it. And she caught a mouse (in my house!) during her recovery – which is amazing. Kiwi and Hunter didn’t even see it, and were not impaired. Friends said, “Mini is showing her appreciation.”
Hunter, our long haired black cat, is cat number 3. He is Mini’s brother, the other cat saved from the roadside. Hunter is tough and stubborn. We are only allowed to pet him on the head. Don’t even think of moving your hand further along his back, or whack – you get swiped. I told the vet this once, and she said, don’t worry I know how to handle these types. She returned from the backroom with a scratch on her hand.
Hunter also likes to jump up on my garden ornaments. One summer, he jumped up on a birdbath which tumbled over on him. This resulted in a nose job. It was scary, but he handled it well. He snooped slowly around the repaired birdbath later, sniffing the base. Easy Hunter! Don’t you know to stay away from that? Hunter likes to chase the wild turkeys in our yard, and chased our free range chickens the day he was brought home. This is why he’s named, “Hunter.”
All of my cats all enjoy my plants and surrounding wildlife in our yard. Sadly, sometimes they get injured. We don’t allow them out in the evenings anymore, which is a challenge with Hunter. Mini is more understanding; not surprising after she re-cooped from her injuries under our daily care. For weeks, she was hand-carried, fed, and kept in a hospital like setup. Nowadays, she only has to watch out for Kiwi, around every corner in the house. They all have more restrictions but still get to play during recess like hours, and only during the day.
Hunter likes to stroll on the edge of the deck railings to investigate the tips of the plants nearby, or watch the scenery below as if he’s the king of the jungle. If Kiwi chooses to annoy him, he gives her a look and walks away. Often Kiwi will follow behind him at a safe two feet distance. As for Mini and Hunter, they touch noses from time to time. They still watch each other’s backs.
In my experience of doing designs for homeowners’ yards, I never really got too many complaints about cats in their gardens. Cats mostly use the plants and garden spaces as places to relax, like we do. I find cats are the true admirers of my plants and gardens. I can’t imagine not allowing them outdoors – at least during the day – to enjoy the scenery as much as we do.
P.S. I can’t find the photo of the bobcat, but had posted it on my Facebook page at the time. If I find it, I will re-post!
Container Crazy Cathy T