The Fiona Files: A Blog from the Felinesphere

File # 1 – Finding Home

I’m going to start right off letting you know I do not “mince” words. Mincing is what you do so you don’t have to swallow a mouse whole.

My life before coming to live with P and G is not something I like to revisit, but humans like to hear a rescue cat’s back-story. I was born in a litter of mediocre kittens: none came close to my practical nature, high intelligence, or geometric calico beauty. I have two perfect black triangles: in the middle of my face and in the middle of my chest. At a very young age, I produced a litter of stellar kittens who were sadly taken away from me way too soon. Luckily, I began lecturing them sternly at birth about how to succeed in “Human Handling” without really trying.

I’m not sure how I arrived at the place with the Big Cat Room. It was quite a shock: perhaps 30 other felines in the same room attempting to establish their territories while sharing litter boxes and dry food. The humans were kind to us; however, they gave us names without even asking what our name should be. This was to be expected, seeing as they were not our bond-humans. Still, I was quite embarrassed with my temporary name “Buttercup.” We each had a photo shoot for the website; I posed in perfect silhouette on the outdoor observation window sill. It was a stately photo of me while looking for birds I could imagine eating. The other calico cat (with the equally embarrassing name “Pebbles”) spent most of her time in a climbing tower hut – peeking out an opening. She was always on high alert and had an orange triangle on her face. Like me, she kept her cool, didn’t get in fights or complain. I thought she might be worth knowing.

One day, about a week before we left, Pebbles and I were taken to the Vet place and had surgery so we would not have any more kittens. I had trouble coming out of the sleep. When I awoke, Pebbles was vigorously licking my face and purring to help me. After that, we were friends.

I started getting intuitive instructions from Elvira – a 19 ½ year old beautiful torty calico with a white triangle on her face. Elvira would be leaving earth in September and had chosen “Pebbles” and me to assume her soul level contracts with P and G. She would show us mind-photos of the house in the woods with lots of long windows and a lake. P would be needing both of us, and Elvira wanted everything to go perfectly when it was time.   She would let us know when the right people showed up to get us.

Well, “Pebbles” was a wreck waiting. She hardly ever came out of her hut. She had pretty serious trust issues with humans in general and was terrified about the possibility of someone taking her before P & G came. If anyone tried to pick her up, she would struggle violently, and freak out until she was back in her hut. She really is very cute, so this behavior probably did save her from being taken by others.

Finally, the big day came. I was in my usual position on the window sill looking just as magnificent as my Internet photo. “Pebbles” was in her hut, peering out with reflective dilated pupils. P and G both came, along with their daughter-in-law and grandson - a 4-year-old boy. This put everyone on alert knowing children that age may not have been properly trained with human-cat interaction skills. We would soon find out that Elvira had trained him well.

There were a lot of people looking to adopt cats that day. They were running a 2-for-1 special. P and G had already decided I would be going with them, but wanted to actually see “Pebbles” who still would not come out. Clearly, I had to handle things, so I sent her a message: “Get out of that hut and be cute and friendly right now, or you will not be going with me.” She got out, walked casually over to me while performing several yoga-type stretches, touched noses with me, and then launched herself into the arms of the young grandson! He shrieked, “Grammy! Look at this. She likes me.” Everyone was surprised, except me, of course. I figure Elvira had to give her a shove while reminding the grandson how to gently catch a flying cat.

Once we were each in a carrier, Pebbles started to cry and howl. When they put us in the back of their car, P and G turned the carriers so we could see each other. P talked right to us (in our heads!) about this – how we could see each other and be reassured we were together.

When we got to the forest house, they put our carriers in the middle of a big room and let us out one at a time. I got out first and immediately knew this was a WONDERFUL house with so many low windows and birds to watch. I went right to work checking things out. Then they let her out. Within 3 seconds, she shot out of the carrier, bolted across the room, flew down the stairs to the basement, and disappeared. She stayed there for two days. P and I knew she was in the crawlspace. We went all around looking and calling her nicely, but she wouldn’t come out. P was just as worried as I was about the possibility that crazy little cat was stuck somewhere and couldn’t get out. In the meantime, I told P my name was Fiona and she agreed.

That night P and G went for dinner with others in their human family. P told me later what happened. They were trying to figure out what “Pebbles” wanted as her name. Everyone was coming up with suggestions, but P knew the cat would have to tell her. P went to the restroom and was washing her hands when she heard in her head, “TWIG! My name is Twig.” She told me she laughed right out loud because her own head said, “Twig? Really? Well, of course it is! Fiona and Twig.”

The next day we tried calling for “Twig.” After a few hours, we went to talk seriously to G about the situation. He was watching other humans throw a ball around on the loud box, what he calls a “ball game.”  He noticed us in the doorway being concerned. While P was telling him the situation, G started laughing and said, “Take a look behind you.” And there she was: all her beautiful white areas covered in dirt; sitting there acting all innocent as if to say, “What’s the problem? I’m just fine. I’m over it.” And, boy was she over it. That night she just sat herself in the big red chair with her shaved stomach right out there for all to see, while vigorously bathing for about an hour!

That is all I have to say about my background. In the future I will be recounting stories about my experiences living in this forest, the many things I am in charge of, and my astute opinions on things in general.

Twig's first evening out after two days hiding in the basement.

File # 2 – Adjustments and Major Maladjustments

The first weeks at the forest house were busy for Twig and me.  P had been trained by cats, so there wasn’t a lot we had to teach her – at least not right away.  We established the feeding schedule and litter box location.  Twig and I had to investigate and properly mark all areas of the house.  Markers had been left by Elvira indicating areas for naps, play and general observation.  In case you are uninformed about “marking,” I will explain.  As co-residents of the forest house, it was our duty to establish boundaries of said territory.  This involves a “marking” procedure, which must be done expeditiously upon arrival. Twig and I are dignified female cats, and place marks by rubbing the sides of our faces on… pretty much everything, leaving a tiny bit of cat oil.  We do not mark things with urine like some horny old tom cats I’ve met.

We kept asking P when we could go outside, so she had a “chat” with us. We had to stay indoors for some days because we might run away.  I saw no sense in this because I had no intention of EVER leaving. However, Twig was clearly a flight risk.  She freaked out at any sudden noise or movement - tearing around the house in search of hiding places.   Her best hiding place was under the pool table where the balls collect.  It took P and I a really long time to find that one.  As time progressed, Twig continued to hide – for no good reason!  I tried to ignore this exceedingly stupid behavior, but P fell for it every time – getting all worried.  Part of my role is to serve in a supervisory capacity, so I pretended to care by going around with P looking and calling, but more than anything, I was monitoring P to learn her habits, and provide her with companionship in her distressed state. When all is said and done, I’m a team player. P will learn this.

P got collars for each of us with red heart name tags. Twig immediately set about trying to tear hers off, so I told her this was the “honeymoon” period and to hold-off on that. 

I was napping one morning, when I heard Twig screaming like she was being murdered.  I ran out and saw P wearing oven mitts, trying to put a WILD Twig in her carrier.  Feeling somewhat alarmed, but hoping to prove one of us was sane, I went into my carrier without a fuss. I thought we had been exemplary cats; well, at least I had been.  Was she returning us?  Clearly it was all Twig’s fault for being so crazy – hiding under the house, racing into walls at every sudden noise, and now screaming her head off without even knowing where we were going.  In the car, P attempted a reassuring chat - something about a vet checkup - while Twig screamed.  By the time we got there, I was terrified - afraid we’d be sent back.  When the vet tried to take me out of the carrier, I fought with my claws, growls and hisses.  After my check-up, I calmed down, expecting to watch a real brawl with Twig.  That little twerp just calmly came out of her carrier without a sound.  She was the perfect little cat – all sweet and cooperative.  In the car, P said it was funny how we took turns freaking out.  Twig smirked at me.

In the bathroom bay window, P set up two cat beds for us. I now had my very own bed right by a window for watching birds, squirrels and little rodents in the yard.  Well, that ecstasy was short-lived.  Twig didn’t want to be in HER bed.  She tried to jam herself in my bed.  P took photos of this ridiculous behavior, showcasing my incredible tolerance.  Eventually, I had enough and bit her (Twig, that is).

I constantly showed P my gratitude by rubbing and swirling around her legs while purring loudly. It’s possible I overdid it because she had a “chat” with me about it.  She appreciated my gratitude and offers to help supervise all daily activities.  She already loved us, and knew we wanted to go outside. All she asked in return was for us to catch mice; that was our only job.  Elvira had been good at that job until she got really old and lost her teeth.  P said there was a good mouse supply, and I was ready and willing.  She said some other stuff (waah-waah-waah), but I stopped listening after hearing about the fresh mouse meat.

The first day P let us out, I immediately caught a big fat mouse that had been taunting me for days through the window.  I laid that sucker right out on the mat by the door, and presented myself in proud lioness pose.  Thanks to Elvira’s training, P knew the importance of commending me.  Then I ate it.  Twig, on the other hand, tore out the door and proceeded to climb very tall trees in the yard.  She’d race up to the top and then right down again.  P laughed and said, “Now I know why your name is Twig.”   I wonder how long it will take her to figure out why my name is Fiona.

So much for regular adjustments.  Let’s get to the major maladjustments.  The first night after Twig came out of the basement, we all hung out until it was bedtime.  Twig and I were shocked to see P&G shut the door to their bedroom. Did they forget we were there?  We went to work letting them know we were right there at the door - scratching and meowing plaintively.  From the other side of the door P said she loved us, and we were not going to be sleeping in their bed.  We kept at it until they turned on a loud fan. The next day, Twig and I examined the door and agreed on a plan.  That night – after P&G were asleep, we quietly opened the door and settled ourselves on the bed.  In the morning, P&G pretended to be surprised by our presence, but I could see they were impressed and curious about our ingenuity. They still don’t know how we did it.

It took a little longer – and several replacements – before we figured out how to remove our collars and hide them in the woods so P would stop buying us new ones.

In case you hadn’t figured this out already… I am a problem solver.  I do not tolerate fools and if I see a situation that is unacceptable, I will let you know.  If you do not handle it expeditiously, I will take over.  Which leads me to the craziest maladjustment I had to deal with at the forest house

It had to do with the feeding routine.  Right away I was relieved to see P&G had tasty cat food.  The service was good, and we each had our own dish – perfectly shaped so as not to touch our whiskers.  We were served both fishymeat and crunchies. Water bowls were provided in several convenient places.  All good.  The problem was that Twig chose not to go along with the eating procedure. Oh, she was good about initiating the reminder for the humans.  She’d do cute things and make purry noises, while luring them toward the feeding bowls.  She’d assume the patience pose facing the human during the food preparation.  However, once presented with her food, she’d blow it.  While I was dutifully eating as rapidly as possible to fill my belly, she’d put on a drama show just to get their attention.  And it worked every time.  First, when presented with her bowl, instead of thanking them, she’d act like it was something that might attack her.  She’d either bolt out of the room right away or tentatively lick some of the wet food, eat 2 crunchies, and then tear out of the room.  There I am, already deep into my post-meal cleaning with an immaculate empty bowl, and she runs off leaving almost all of her food.  Not wanting to have P&G think we were ingrates, I took it upon myself to finish the food Twig had left so wastefully.  P told me not to do that, pointing out it was Twig’s bowl, as if I didn’t know that already!  Obviously, she totally misinterpreted my intentions: I was simply covering for Twig’s show of ingratitude – not trying to eat more! 

I commenced a new tactic.  When I finished eating my food, I’d hunker down and glare at Twig letting her know I was watching and she better not run away without licking her bowl clean!  This didn’t work; instead she acted like I was intimidating her and used it as an excuse to race out of the room. Once again leaving me feeling obligated to finish off her bowl.  When P caught me doing that, she’d put me in a “time-out” – she literally opened the door and sent me outside.  Big whoop!  I’d go hunt me up a field mouse.  P needed to teach that little cat some manners! 

One day, P told me Twig was a “grazer” – she liked to eat a little, go play or nap and then stop back by the bowl all through the day to nibble.  This was the dumbest thing I had ever heard.  I felt sorry for both Twig and P for perpetuating this farce.  Finally, I figured out how to solve the problem!  I would eat, clean myself and go off somewhere else pretending I was not interested at all in Twig or her bowl of uneaten food.  P was happy and Twig went on doing her thing.  Once everyone was settled elsewhere, I would sneak into the kitchen and finish off Twig’s bowl of food.  Everyone was happy: Twig didn’t have to eat with me glaring at her, I didn’t get sent outside, and P thought Twig ate all her food.  Even though Twig probably knew I was doing it, she couldn’t speak human and tell them.  It worked perfectly until our second check-up at the vet when they weighed us.