Sunday, November 16, 2008

Herding Cats

We've been back in Tucson for 2 weeks tomorrow and our kids (the 7 kitties) have been doing extremely well in fitting in. We had Melinda's two (Atticus and Annie) in solitary for about 2 days before mixing them with the home team. There was a little hissing, but mostly defensive hissing from the new cats. Mostly the Tucson cats treat them with detached indifference...

More interesting to me was how the 2 Tucson cats we brought to Illinois (Marley and Sugarpants) fit back into the hierarchy. After being gone for 4 months, it was as if they had never left! They ate at their same favorite spots, they still hung out with the cats they used to - I was really surprised. So much for cats only having short-term memory!

While we agree with the principles of keeping cats indoors, we allow them into the back yard. Years ago, Vicki and I lost 2 of our beloved cats to a roaming chow mix that was allowed to roam the neighborhood unchained. As a result of that, we built a "cat-proof" fence. Only one of our athletes was able to escape, and she stayed close to the house, so we didn't worry too much. But last spring my neighbor and I replaced the rickety wooden fence along our property line with a cinder block wall, and several of the cats were able to get out. The last straw was when Melinda's cats, who had never been outside before, were seen in the front yard.

So today after a Sunday movie (Rachel Getting Married), we made a Home Depot run and got supplies to refurbish the cat penitentiary. We made brackets that held small fence posts, angled in holding chicken wire. The theory is that a jumping cat would grab the fence, it would sag under their weight, and they would drop back to the ground. I still have a cat, that in his younger days would jump up and grab the fence and climb hand over hand (paw over paw?) to the edge where he would lift himself over the chicken wire to freedom (until I put up an electrified wire just for him). So for the moment, until they find the weak spots, they are all in and safe.

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