So... what exactly is this "Blog from the Felinesphere"? 

It is a series of life episodes, thoughts, complaints, and questionable words of wisdom from a strikingly beautiful (her words), and cheeky calico cat named Fiona.  These “files” are sent intuitively to me (Pamela, aka “P”) in what might best be described as a rather unconventional and dominant form of automatic writing.  You’ll see what I mean once you start reading…


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 a perfect black triangle in the middle of my face and a perfect diamond/heart shape 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.

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 me 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.

Assuming my Responsibilities

It didn’t take long to realize that most of the feline responsibilities for this household would fall on me – and me alone!  Allow me to offer a few humble illustrations.

Sociability.  Obviously, cats should contribute to human social gatherings.  We greet human guests when they enter the house.  This is easy work with cat-lovers.  However, one must identify cat-haters immediately in order to make plans for working on them.  It’s like missionary work really.  Some humans announce their hatred and/or fear of cats right away and out loud.  In others, it's body language or the look on their face. I have two tactics. For haters, I make a show of being really loving to everyone else but them.  For the fearsome, I hit on a cat-lover nearby and make a big show of my gentle nature while sweetly blinking and maintaining eye contact with the mark.  It’s possible I get a bit confused by humans who announce they have a cat allergy.  At first, I thought they were letting me know they liked cats, and had one named Allergy.  Now I am not so sure, given their frantic attempts to disengage when I welcome them by rubbing all over their clothes. I’m still working on that one…

Not long after we started living with P&G, they had a BIG family gathering.  P cooked a huge bird and all the guest humans brought more food.  I salivated all day.  They brought the picnic table inside and put little plates of people-food treats on it.  Part of my job is to expeditiously inspect the placement of furniture in the house.  Well, that table seemed to be lacking an eye-catching centerpiece, and I was just the one to provide it.  I hopped up and spread myself out in maximum spender right in the center of the table.  Of course, the guests noticed right away!  The smart humans were delighted, remarking about my beauty and cleverness in fixing the centerpiece situation.  Others apparently missed my ingenuity, and told P I should be removed from the display.  I know P thought it was very clever of me, but she did make me get down.  And I’ll have you know I did not lick any of the treats like some people alleged!

That big party was a lot of work for me.  It lasted for hours and there were many people to attend to.  Maybe you are thinking Twig helped with the human-cat socialization interactions? Nope.  Even now, years later, she hides from guest humans, except for a few devoted cat-lovers. What’s more (or less really), she has done absolutely no missionary work whatsoever!

Monitoring. Another crucial aspect of my job is to be fully cognizant at all times of the whereabouts of both P and G.  Originally, I assumed Twig would be actively participating in the routine surveillance.  P&G tend to do many things at once, and are not always in the same place together.  Normally, in a 2-cat/2-human household, one would expect each resident cat would keep track of one human.  Well, assumptions and expectations have no bearing when dealing with Twig.  During my insightful lectures, it became clear she had the attention span of a flea, and only felt the need to pay attention to the location of our humans when she was hungry or hiding.  Once again, all responsibility for general routine monitoring of our humans falls on me.  Just to throw a little enlightenment on the duress inherent in this job, you might need to understand that G, in particular, moves rapidly from one task to another.  More than once I have found myself galloping with untethered urgency through the house in order to get out the cat door in time to see where he was going when he went out the kitchen door without me!

Mousing.  Another crucial part of household monitoring relates to our promise that we would remove any and all resident mice.  At least Twig could help with that, right?  Apparently not.  First of all, she was not even interested in eating mice.  I literally spent hours patiently teaching her how to catch, play with, and then eat mice.  Except for the “play” part, she simply was not interested.  I was truly incredulous.  [See P’s Photo Story Blog: Do Cats Teach?]  So, I had to come up with ingenious ways for her to help with the rodent situation.

I love to watch little animals – rodents mostly – run around in the yard.  One day, I noticed Twig liked to chase chipmunks.  Oddly, when she caught one, she would immediately release it – unharmed.  Although initially stunned by her impudence, it slowly dawned on me:  she truly loved the chase.  And… she liked catching them.  I could work with that.  I chose the deck as an ideal location for collecting observational data on chipmunk behavior.  This is how I discovered the 2-hole system for underground chipmunk residences.  I was impressed, considering their tiny little brains. During construction of their tunnel homes, they create both an entrance hole and an emergency exit hole.  Twig would chase a chipmunk until he ran down the entrance hole.  Then she’d sit there for hours, waiting for the chipmunk to come back out.  She didn’t even notice when the chipmunk ran out the exit hole!

It took some coaxing and numerous rehearsals, but eventually Twig understood my brilliant plan of attack.  First, we cased the yard and established the locations of the 2-hole chipmunk residences.  When it was a good chasing day, we’d both start chasing until a chipmunk ran down one of the holes.  Then we each took a hole and waited.  I admit, it sometimes took hours, but eventually, the chipmunk would come running out right into a cat mouth! 

I know what you are thinking: Twig let them go and ruined the hunt.  Yes, there were a few times when this happened, but she totally redeemed herself later.  She started catching them and carefully bringing them in through the cat door so she could chase them whenever she liked.  In fact, she kept one in the house for months – letting him eat our food and bathe in our water bowl.  For some reason P seemed confused about how this particular activity was in part a fulfillment of our rodent responsibilities.  She still has so much to learn. 

Travels and Travails

Shortly after we had settled into a routine at the forest house, P&G abandoned us. Twig noticed the clues before I did. One day while I was enjoying a particularly nice spot of sunshine on the deck, she came roaring out of the cat door on high alert. She reported having seen both P and G putting clothes and other things in two large boxes in their bedroom. They had pictures in their heads of other places and riding in the sky. Why Twig deduced this might indicate they were leaving us, I could not fathom.

Oddly, she was correct. After they shut the clothes boxes, P&G started talking about “the trip” and had pictures in their heads of other people. On the day they left us, P promised to come back. She said “L” would come feed us every day. I was aghast! Some random human would be responsible for our survival? P saw my distress, and lamely muttered something about how L liked cats and would be nice to us. Then they closed the door and left us.

Because Twig was already hiding, she was not witness to P’s pathetic little speech. There I was - completely alone. I walked around the house howling like the scary outdoor dogs we hear at night. It was embarrassing, but I couldn’t help it. How could they do this? Although unable to recall anything out of the ordinary, I decided to proceed with an in-depth review of my recent behavior while living in the forest house. I caught mice and that was good. I tried – in vain - to teach Twig to do the same. I had a way to get into their bedroom every night. I always ate my food, and Twig’s if needed. I supervised yard work. There were a few times I had done some digging on the couch, but it worked out in the end because it prompted P to get us a digger pole and reward me with a nice little catnip toy. Hmmm… well, there was that one time when I was on the back of the couch and Twig walked underneath and I dead-dropped on her – but that was JUST FOR FUN (at least for me). What had we done to deserve this?

All that fretting forced me to take a nap. When I heard a car in the driveway, I trotted to the front window. A female human walked right in the door. It was L – she told me so. Alrighty, then. We would be fed. L knew how to talk to cats, so we started right in. For some inane reason she kept asking me where the other cat was. I was pretty sure Twig was under some dirt pile in the crawlspace, but who cared? I had someone to prepare MY food, why spoil my chances of eating Twig’s as well? Just when I was thinking I could pull it off and chow down both bowls, Twig showed up making a grand display of herself. Why does every human think she is “so cute?” Ugh.

When L left, we sat around cleaning our faces. I wondered if P&G would be home soon, but Twig told me they would be gone for “seven days.” Apparently, she had heard this from P, but neither of us knew what that really meant. I was distraught and upset. I liked sleeping with P&G because they were warm. It was MY JOB to catch mice and supervise all activities in the household. I saw no point in supervising the crazy things Twig did, and I had already eaten all the house mice. What to do, what to do…? Hit the couch for a nap.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise in the kitchen. I do not appreciate being shocked awake when napping. However, I felt obligated to investigate. In the kitchen, I found Twig swatting things off the desk onto the floor. She was having a grand old time. I proceeded to admonish her about how P told us we were not to climb on furniture or counters in the kitchen. Twig flipped her tail and batted little metal clips to the floor. Clearly, she could care less about what P said. It looked like fun though: being up on the desk, finding human things and batting them out of their place. Twig said we could do what we wanted because they had left us and there were no rules. I thought that over for about 2 whiffs of a fresh mouse and then launched myself up onto the kitchen island. For a long time, I had been smelling little pieces of food up there. And so, a pact was made: Twig and I would make our own rules when the humans left us alone, AND if questioned, we would admit to nothing.

We did have some adventures when P&G went on their trips. We always started by performing a deep inspection of the house. While I sniffed everything in the human food closet, Twig checked doors. Several times raccoons came in our cat door. One time, a raccoon opened a cabinet in the laundry room and was dragging a bag of OUR cat food through the house when L arrived to feed us. Then P’s brother and son showed up in combat clothes, prepared to fight the raccoon, but he was already long gone. Sometimes things fell off shelves and broke. Other times birds flew in the house and left feathers all over the place. To show our appreciation, we left presents for L, but she gagged and said they were “gross.” We found this to be a rather silly reaction to our beautifully laid-out carcasses of mice, chipmunks, and frogs!

Another time, Twig found an upstairs door open, and ran right up there! THAT was totally off-limits because the daughter human slept there and claimed we made her sneeze. Well, Twig didn’t believe that for one minute and raced up the stairs and got into everything! She knocked over a wastebasket and found some little cloth snow people. Then she carried them downstairs in her mouth and placed them on P&G’s bed. When P&G finally came home, they were surprised to see the little cloth snow men on their bed, and wondered if Twig had done it. Little did they know that was just the beginning of Twig’s delivery service, which is still thriving today.

That's me inspecting Twig's delivery of the little cloth snowmen on P&G's bed.

Swimming Lessons and Momma

Some humans think cats don't get embarrassed. Well, not me. In spite of my reputation for being an extremely brave warrior cat, I have experienced an inordinate number of embarrassing incidents, the most humiliating of which I am about to share with you.

The first year I was living with P&G, I got to know P’s mother: Momma. She had a huge sadness in her heart that year because her special human (POP) had gone over the rainbow bridge without her. The first time I saw her, I knew she needed me. She was also a picture thinker and I appreciate that in a human.

When Momma came over to the forest house she liked to sit on the deck and look at the lake. She was pretty wobbly when she walked so, I would wait until she was settled in a chair before launching myself right up on her lap - purring at full bore. Momma would pet me and tell me how much she liked birds. I would agree, licking my lips surreptitiously.

Sometimes P&G and other family humans would walk out on a platform in the lake and get in their fast boat and ride around on top of the lake. Worrying, I would watch from the land. I had no intention of walking out on the long platform because I was unsure of how it put humans in the water. I had seen a human standing on the platform and then suddenly go flying through the air into the water. In spite of those legitimate concerns, I felt left out when humans were gathered on the platform without me.

At some point, P&G got rid of the fast boat and replaced it with a flat boat. P told me all about it. They had two good reasons for getting the flat boat. First, there was Momma to consider. She had a difficult time getting in the tippy fast boat without falling. The flat boat made it easy for Momma to get right in and sit down. It also had railings so the grandchildren and their (CRAZY) little dog wouldn’t fall in the water too easily.

As you know by now, the initial inspection of something new in one’s territory must be done in a timely manner. The first night after we got the flat boat, I decided to check it out. I spent a long time on the land leading to the platform pondering how I might perform the inspection of that boat. Suddenly Twig raced down the lawn, ran all the way down the platform, and jumped right on the boat. She made quite a show of walking around on it. I was squirming with indecision watching her casually inspecting everything without me. She was basically forcing me to conquer my fears. Later, when Twig wasn’t looking, I practiced walking carefully on the platform to see what would happen. If I walked straight down the middle, I felt safe enough.

One of my best and worst traits is that I am compulsively sociable. In fact, I have self-diagnosed myself with what the humans refer to as  FOMO. One day when the family humans came over, Momma and others were out there just sitting and talking in the flat boat by the platform. Some of the humans were standing on the platform throwing strings in the water and pulling fish out. Seeing this as my big chance to show off my bravery AND accommodate my social needs, I carefully walked down the middle of the platform and jumped onto the flat boat. Everyone was impressed with me for doing that. We had quite a love fest with me winding my way around the legs and little children – being my most hospitable self.

Suddenly, P stood up. Then she opened the little gate, stepped onto the platform, closed the gate and started walking up toward the house. I was frantic! Where was she going so suddenly? I had to catch up to her right away. Without even a thought about gauging the distance or the actual size of the opening over the little boat door, I launched myself toward the platform. It was a tight squeeze and then…

I was surrounded by water. I have never been so terrified! Coughing and spitting, I finally got my head out of the water and began frantically churning my feet around. At least that got me moving, but I had no idea where to go. Just then, I heard the loud high-pitched voice of the grandson: “Grammy! Grammy! Fiona jumped in the water and she’s swimming the wrong way!”

I was so scared; I really couldn’t think at all. I just kept churning my legs. Then, I heard P calling to me: “Fiona, Fiona! Come this way. Come to my voice, Fiona. I’m right here. Please come this way.” When I heard P, my head turned and I saw the land. Then, I was churning so fast, when I felt the land under my feet, I propelled myself way up through the air and was still churning when I landed on the grass. P was right there and she picked me up and had the grandson bring a towel. They wrapped me up and started wiping and drying me. I tolerated this for a short time and then took off to a place where I could handle the drying and cleaning my own way. I was mortified at my carelessness, and oh, so cold and wet. I shall not even attempt to count the number of ways I was embarrassed.

Later, Momma sat with me and we talked about it. She told me what had happened – how I had not actually fit very well through the opening, which made it so I didn’t jump far enough to reach the platform. She suggested I might want to practice for future jumps. I didn’t say anything because she was keeping me warm with her special blanket and petting me, but there was no way on earth I was going to jump on OR off that boat ever again. A few days later, P had to take me to the vet for a shot because of the bad stuff in my lungs from being in the lake.

Even though this memory is my most embarrassing one, it is also my favorite memory of time with Momma. She was so nice to me, and unlike SOME HUMANS, did not laugh at my failed attempt to launch myself through the boat door, while insinuating it had something to do with my somewhat portly middle section.

Sometimes Momma would come to spend the night and I would sleep with her. She said it was a special treat for her because Pop didn’t really like cats so much, and would never let one sleep anywhere near their bed. Momma had a special blanket made of different colored squares. When she moved to a different house, she took it with her. Then one day, P came home with that blanket and put it on the counter. P was so sad in her heart and told me Momma would not be coming to visit anymore. I got on that blanket and started sending love to Momma. We were able to send love and pictures of birds to each other in our heads for a while before she left to go be with Pop. She was a good friend.


House Arrests and House Parties

I imagine everyone has been wondering: “Where is Fiona?” Well, I was under a lock-down house-arrest. Twig was involved, but took a plea deal (she’s always hesitant to go for the kill). I was so annoyed with P for the house arrest, I refused to dictate my blog! Finally, she told me to “get over myself” and consider my distressed fans.

The whole thing was because of 2 over-zealous mother wrens who had nests in the duplex birdhouse. The duplex birdhouse hangs right outside P’s office window – not far from the deck. When the baby birds are ready for flight school, their mothers shove them out toward the deck so they’ll have a nice wooden floor to practice on and get a running start. It’s something Twig and I look forward to every year: the fledging of the baby wrens. In anticipation of this festive event, we start hanging out in the weeds under the birdhouse several weeks in advance. The mother wrens found our presence disquieting – and I mean that literally. One day, they were chattering so loudly, P came out to see what was going on.

Sometimes P asks the inanest questions – and here’s an example. When P came out and saw us, she said, “Fiona! Twig! What are you doing?” I thought: “I believe – up until you came out – we were hunkered down in silent stalking mode – well hidden by weeds.” Then P admitted she knew exactly what we were doing and chased us out from under the bird house.

There was a lecture and some puny threats about what would happen if we did ANYTHING to the baby wrens. I commenced vigorously cleaning my ears until she went back in the house. Twig and I re-positioned ourselves on the deck – under chairs and the picnic table. Our plan was simple: when the beginner fliers crash-land on the deck, we will CHOMP them right into our mouths.

Soon thereafter, 2 baby wrens crash-landed. Twig and I sprang into action cornering them. The mother wrens started dive-bombing us and chattering so loudly, P came out again, and was clearly not happy. This time she meant business. She captured the one Twig had cornered; mine hid behind a plant. While P put Twig’s wren back in the nest, I made my move. P came back calling my name in a rather threatening manner. I swallowed it whole… and she saw me. Oh boy. She had me cold, and promptly removed me to the house. The lecture began on the deck, and continued while she locked the cat door, announcing, “You, Ms. Fiona, are under house arrest, and THIS is a lock-down!” For a lot of days, if P saw me looking out the window or crying at the cat door, she’d start right in again human-splaining to me why I had attained lock-down status. P calls these things “chats,” but I know they are lectures about some perfectly normal cat behavior she wants me to suppress. So, I have developed the flicking ear technique. I start flicking the ear closest to P every time she chats at me. I already know what she has to say and I REJECT IT. But in that case, I sat there patiently because I wanted the cat door open again.

Enough already! I have never been one to dwell, and would like to get back to the continuing saga of my social life out here in the woods. One day fairly soon after I moved into the forest house, I discovered there were 3 other houses nearby! I was terribly disappointed in myself. Although Twig and I had done a fine job of surveying our property, we had not even thought to establish border patrol. I had been complacent. What’s more, I had totally neglected my social duties. Those humans had not even met me yet! Trotting purposefully toward the first house, I envisioned a host of new sycophants plying me with tasty cat treats. But… there were no humans at the house – or the other two houses. I checked every day and no one was ever there! All the houses had outdoor crawl spaces, so I looked in there too – many rodents, but no humans. Who builds a house and doesn’t live in it? The more time I spend around humans, the more I notice things they do that make no sense to me at all.

I continued to obsess about the humans not being in their houses. Sometimes, after the snow started, P and I would walk around outside the houses and check windows. If the windows had blown open, P would push them shut.

Finally, when it was warm outside, humans started coming to those houses. One day during a time when P & G were not home, I was out stalking some tiny rodents in the tall grass when I noticed cars and humans. I crept closer and saw chairs on the lawn and humans in fancy clothes. When things got quiet and all the humans were sitting in the chairs with only a few humans standing, I made my move. It was time to socialize and greet my guests. I trotted right over there and started right in purring and rubbing by all the legs on the humans sitting in the chairs. Little humans shrieked (presumably with joy) at my arrival and I heard someone ask, “What kind of cat is THAT – what’s with all the colors?” So endearing it is to listen to these reactions when humans first encounter my colorful beauty and demur presence. I had such a wonderful time at that gathering! I made so many friends and was offered many new treats. There ended up being some sort of misunderstanding about the validity of my invitation to indulge in the huge pile of shrimp I found on the table. A somewhat surly human chased me home after that. Most likely he was jealous of all the attention I was getting.

The next day one of the humans came to talk to P. Apparently, some humans did not think it was “normal” for a cat to attend a “wedding” or partake of the shrimp platter. P was very nice and said she was sorry. I trotted right up purring loudly and attempted to give that human’s leg a full-on heavy-duty rub-by to placate her. Well! She was having none of that. When she left, P laughed for a very long time and then told G and they both laughed. Then we had the chat about how even though I am a gracious hostess at OUR house, not everyone wants me at their party.

Indeed I found other ways to ingratiate myself to guests at our house.  For example,  a subtle display in our guest bathroom! 

A Quest for Valor

This is a story of immense bravery and courage whilst in the face of unimaginable terror.  But let me be perfectly clear: just because I did this and ended up alive doesn’t mean any old cat should attempt it. 

In fact, this particular life experience was - for me - quite precarious, even though I did not realize it at the time. Indeed, the smidgeon of humility I retain had me hesitant to recount this frightful episode of life in the woods for reasons which will become PAINFULLY obvious, but P kept reassuring me there were lessons in the retelling of it, especially for cats who might attempt to do stupid things (not that what I did was stupid).  But if you have cats who might be easily influenced into thinking they too have superpowers, you should probably carefully consider this disclaimer. 

I will now re-create for you that terrifying night in full detail.

It was a dark summer night.  P was sitting in the living room watching a nature show about large cats and Twig was right up there on the TV furniture purring and rubbing her body on the screen.  She has this ridiculous notion that by doing this, she will become friends with those big TV cats.  In other words, P was distracted, and therefore, it was the perfect time to sneak out (before P locked up the cat door for the night). 

It was warm outside and little lighted bugs were sparking all over the trees.  Suddenly, I became aware I was picking up a rather strong smell – perhaps a rodent?  Hoping for a midnight snack, I turned toward the smell.  It was not at all the usual smell for tasty little rodents.  Wondering what it could be, I crept stealthily toward the stairs that go down to the lawn, keeping close to the house.  It was probably the neighbor’s tom cat from the house with the big field.  Sometimes, he would actually sneak right in our cat door and help himself to our food!  I figured I could take him, putting an end to this territorial violation once and for all.  But then I recognized what I was sensing: danger.

Nothing could have prepared me for the horrific monster who was likewise proceeding in stealth toward me!  He had very dark fur and was larger than expected, with a very long bushy tail.  He had little furry ears, beady eyes, and kept showing me his mouth full of sharp-looking teeth.  He was creeping up the stairs and looking right at me.    

I puffed myself up and started a low warning growl.  Immediately, I realized this may not have been the best approach for this creature.  He was not impressed with my warning, and I knew he was coming for me… and then Twig, maybe even P&G!  I had to defend and protect my family at all costs.  If he got too close, I had to attack. There was no other option.

What happened next was a blur of me screaming and feeling pain.  I know those viscous teeth bit right into my chest.  I did what I had to do and put my claws into those beady little eyes.  He stopped advancing and biting me and proceeded to scream (like a baby girl) right back at me.  We were in a stalemate:  Me at the top of the deck stairs, bleeding but highly fluffed up while alternately growling and screaming.  The “thing” was frozen near the top stair to the deck, screaming and shaking his head. 

That’s when P opened the door and started shouting at the monster.  I could tell she was terrified, but also pretty angry because the animal had hurt me.  She was yelling at him to go away, but he wouldn’t move.  So, I took it upon myself to start advancing again – you know, to chase him away.  P told me to stop that, and she tried to grab me so she could put me back in the house.  THAT was not going to happen.  I had this interloper in my sights, and I would see to it that he was personally escorted off the property!

Amazingly, the creature started to retreat, going backwards down the steps.  I pressed on.  P continued to plead with me to come in the house and leave the thing alone.  I forged on.  The retreat was slow, accompanied by screams and growls, but we moved steadily toward the steep drop into the creek.   He scurried (clumsily) down the bank and settled on a little rock island. He turned and resumed screaming at me… and I, from half-way down the bank, screamed right back.  Now P was out there with us, crying and pleading with me: “Fiona, you can’t win this.  That’s a fisher cat and he can kill you.  Please, just this once, listen to me, and give it up.  Please just come in the house.”

I re-assessed the situation.  In spite of what P was saying (and it did appear she might know what she was talking about in this particular instance), I could see the creature was hurt and done with our confrontation.  In other words, I had done my job.  His eyes were hurt, and he was ready to retreat.  I gave him a final glare… and then marched up the bank.  When I looked back, he was running with his stupid fluffy tail between his legs.

It seemed as though P was rather astounded, blathering something about how much she loved me and had been so afraid I was mortally wounded.  We went back in the house.  Twig was in a terrible state: eyes bright reflective green and fully dilated.  She was literally shaking.  P told me she would need to take a look at me to see how badly I was hurt.  I agreed to this… because I knew my leg and chest had been hurt.  As P told people later, she knew she had a short window, so she went right to work.  She put some stuff on the bite on my chest, and some more on my leg.  I even let her look at my stomach.  When I had enough of that fussing, I went to a cozy place, curled up and started purring myself into the healing state.

I healed up just fine.  There were some seemingly endless chats from P about this and that, and the terrible risk I had taken, blah blah blah.  But there were also some very loving things P said to me about how much she loved me and how she was secretly incredibly proud of how courageous I was.  She was telling everybody about this.  Apparently, in our neck of the woods, that evil creature had killed a flock of chickens, and there had been reports of cats missing as well.  I don’t think P noticed, but these remarks went straight to my head.

P also told me that since this masterful encounter of heroism and bravery, another local cat had confronted the thing, and it ran away.  You see, I am not only a legend now, but I have successfully trained that horrid creature to never underestimate the valor inherent in a forest cat.

The Importance of Display

P says I am “obsessed” with Twig.  Well, P is clueless, and Twig is not an ordinary cat.  What P refers to as my obsession, is simply my continued attempts to find logic in the things Twig does on a daily basis.  As a model for the Felinesphere, her behavior is irreverent at best. 

In my first few Fiona Files, I pointed out some of Twig’s odd behaviors.  She gets hungry and asks for food, only to pretend she is frightened by her food and race out of the room seeking a place to hide.  To put it bluntly, she is an alarmist and it’s shameful for the rest of us.  Once I saw her jump straight up in the air (launching off P’s face) when someone dropped a book on the floor. Who does that?  

She also suffers from a condition known as the “zoomies” - racing around for no apparent reason.  One time, P&G had friends come to eat dinner.  The female had a feathery thing called a boa, and left it by the front door.  They were eating when P’s friend saw her boa flying down the hallway.  Twig had stolen it! They found her under a bed, staring out with her reflective eyeballs, all wrapped up in the boa. I mean, is she a dog? 

Even worse, Twig refuses to kill small rodents!  Instead, she transports them into the house, and lets them loose so she can chase them for fun – or until I get sick of her inanity and eat them. This is not the way of respectable felines!  You hunt, kill, display, receive commendations, and eat the remains.  Simple and instinctive.  But… Nooo… not Twig!  I’ve even witnessed her make friends with a stink bug of all creatures, which I could kill standing on my head.  I had no choice but to step in and demand she start following the guidelines. In response, she attempted to show her “hunting skills” by dragging little cloth snowmen she found in the wastebasket of P’s sewing room down the stairs to lay out on P&G’s bedspread?  When I saw that presentation, I thought, “What new lunacy is this?”  And, that was just the beginning... 

One day, while P was smoothing up her bed, she found 3 dead BATS laid out on the quilt.  P and I knew right away Twig had put them there.  What P did not know was that capturing bats is one of our annual sporting events.  Twig climbs trees, captures the bats and delivers them to me.  I finish them off, but don’t eat them because of a bad experience with the boney wings.  Apparently, Twig thought P would be impressed by – and give HER the credit for - this display.  So, it pleased me to the nth degree when P proceeded to lecture Twig about the rabid dangers of chasing bats, even though it was obvious Twig was not listening one bit.

True strangeness began when Twig established her howling delivery service, which is still thriving today.  For the past ten years, and on a daily basis, Twig delivers Ziploc plastic bags to various places around the house (and sometimes out through the cat door to the deck).  Right from the beginning, P found the situation consternating. But what really bothers me is that Twig simply does not understand the reason why a proper feline creates a display.

Your display must contain a CLEAR message.  I offer you one of my best display stories as an exemplar.

It was in the summer and P and her little granddaughter were working on a project in the garage.  I let it be known I was available to help with the project, but was rudely removed from the garage – something about my questionable painting skills.  They were painting a giant human tooth which was going to be in a parade.  I had no idea what that meant, but I knew whatever was going on with the giant tooth was worthy of my attention.  Of course, it took no time at all for me to sneak back in the garage and situate myself in a supervisory position. I kept my distance, but watched everything they did.  Then one day, they put the tooth on a platform, wheeled it outside, and attached it to a truck.  I sped out of the garage and jumped up to position myself on the platform with the tooth.  Wherever it was going, I was going too!  P removed me from the platform and I jumped right back up there.  We kept up with this for a bit and then P got serious and carried me in the house.  She informed me that I would not be attending the “parade” with the tooth, and off she went. 

As I watched them leave, I planned my revenge…

When P came home from her stupid human tooth parade and walked into her closet, she found my message display.   I had neatly laid-out a formerly living chipmunk on its back.  Placed beside this chipmunk was its decapitated head.  I finished off the display with my favorite fluffy fake mouse toy.  Now that is how it’s done; that is what we, in the feline world, call a proper feline display with a subtle, yet clearly meaningful message.

P's Ridiculous Trial

Care-Abilities - The Things We Do for Our Humans

Early this morning, I took it upon myself to gently, and repetitively, paw-smack the cheek on P’s head which was lying on our pillow.  I announced: “It is about time we got back to working on my life project of creating a useful cat guide for humans!”  I spoke loudly - enunciating each thought while increasing the volume of my declaration to make sure P was listening.  I never know if shes listening when her eyes are closed.  Let’s just assume she agreed with my entreaty.  After all, I taught my perfect kittens how to succeed in “Human Handling” without really trying.  No cat is better qualified for this task. 

Ye shall be the first humans to receive the news of which I speak suggesting this growing collection of feline knowledge in the Fiona Files may soon be considered a sacred tome.  Herewith I offer examples of selfless offerings which Twig and I have come to bestow upon our humans with astute regularity. (Sometimes P watches TV-humans who talk like this, and they sound really smart.) 

These care-abilities come with the cat and can be used to teach the humans.

Rodent Control

It has been alleged I spend a lot of time sleeping in my window bed. For sooth, I deny this. In fact, it is where I collect rodent data!  The squirrels race around looking everywhere for oak tree nuts.  Then they stuff the nuts in their cheeks, dig holes in P’s gardens, put the nuts in the holes, then cover them up.  It’s crazy and takes a lot of focus; I never tire of watching them.  There is a lot of fighting going on too. The gray squirrels hate the red squirrels. Some squirrels don’t work hard at all, and yet they watch closely.  I am pretty sure they plan to steal other squirrels’ nuts when the cold time comes.  THAT is when I watch to see if they even remember where they put the nuts. Sometimes the squirrels are really big too, like the one that fell through the garden net and ate P’s strawberries.

One day when it was still warm in the forest, P&G were talking about their plants on the deck.  These plants are up on a bench in pots of dirt.  I remember these plants well because when P put little green plastic fences around the plants, she had the audacity to inform me this was to remind me not to dig in the dirt.  In my opinion, the plants are a mess and spread all over the place with their little red balls called tomatoes.  Anyway, G was complaining about a couple of red squirrels who were climbing in the pots and eating the tomatoes.  G was quite annoyed and said he didn’t know what to do.  Overhearing this, I was instantly alert!  I was already dealing with those little red squirrels flaunting their sneaky ability to gain access to the plant dirt to bury nuts. Now this?  When we have a situation such as this, there is no point is sitting around.  To quote myself: “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.” Obviously, and as usual, it was up to me to handle the red squirrel and tomato situation immediately!

I trotted out the cat door and found a most excellent spot to observe those absurd little red squirrels, who were indeed vying for the red tomato balls.  It didn’t take me long to gauge what speed would be needed to do the deed.  At the perfect moment, I launched myself onto the silly little rodent who was about to devour another tomato.  It was swift and yet… merciful.  I went right back in the cat door and prepared an appropriate display on the nice rug by the front door.  When I was satisfied with the presentation of the fallen red squirrel, I began a joyful noise calling P&G to come forth and bring praise for my deed.  Well!  They could hardly believe their eyes, exclaiming: “No one ever catches red squirrels; they are too fast and clever.”  Why were they amazed?  They wished to get rid of the red squirrel eating the tomatoes, and TA-DA it was taken care of.  How quickly they forget who they are living with!  Is not my personal code of valor “Your wish is my command?”  Clever? Ha!

Of course, and as I expected, they removed the dead squirrel to the forest mumbling the drivel about how they did not like it when I bring dead animals in the house.  Let’s rearrange the focus here!  It was I who knew just what to do!  Clearly, they were not getting the message.  I ran right back out the cat door.  They thought I was going out to bring the dead one back in the house, but of course, I had a better plan.  I took up my attack position and caught another red squirrel in the act of tomato stealing, and brought him in the house and laid him out.  P&G laughed kind of nervously and quickly commended me while making it clear there was no need for me to continue destroying red squirrels. 

So, what is the lesson here folks?  Pay attention to your cat and what he or she is doing because most likely we are just trying to fulfill one of your wishes.  Perhaps I might offer you another example…?

Offering Massages

We cats are also well aware of how our humans don’t always even know what they need.  For example, when P&G sit down in their TV chairs they talk about how tired they are and how they did “too much” and now they are ‘hurtin’ motor scooters.  Skipping past that ridiculous imagery, I just naturally feel called upon to do what a smart cat does for their human when they feel like that.  Massage! 

Years ago, Twig and I were given our masseuse assignments.  She has P and I have G.  Once G is seated comfortably in his chair, I launch myself up onto his lap.  Early on I discovered G did not like it when I launched and he was holding a cup with hot coffee in it.  I also discovered my deep-tissue massage with claw enhancements was not always the way to go.  Twig learned that P was particularly sensitive about the claw enhancements on her bare legs when she was wearing short pants.  The point is:  We do this for our humans every day!  We are smart and remember the things they do not like (or find painful) and adjust our techniques accordingly.

G receiving one of my most excellent massages with claw enhancements.

Twig just reminded me to mention one of our latest massage add-ons: Sound Therapy.  This is when we synchronize our kneading motion massage with purring – all for free!

This is a just a taste of what is to come as I continue to enumerate, enlighten and bequeath you with examples of things we extraordinary felines do for our dearly beloved humans… just because we can (and choose to).  Simply put, these are our Care-Abilities.

Cat Doors and the Wonderfulness of Reiki

One of the first things Twig and I liked about the forest house was the large cat door with a stepped ramp onto the deck.  At first it was locked - until we made it through our “potential runaway” period. Then one day P said it was our big day to go outside.  Instead of opening one of the house doors, she tried to shove me out that cat door! Clearly, she had not thought this through. I found it necessary to struggle-fight and howl loudly. I gave her a warning bite, and ran out of the room.  At a safe distance, I turned around to watch what Twig would do.  That obnoxious little show-off waltzed over to the cat door and charged right outside!  P was delighted and went outside to commend Twig on her intelligence and bravery.  Approaching humiliation, I quickly reconsidered the situation, and raced out the little door – landing rather abruptly on the deck, having missed the ramp altogether!  P nicely commended me upon my landing and thankfully never mentioned my initial pusillanimity.  All that really mattered was that we could now come and go as we pleased! 

Sometimes desperate stray cats ventured to come and go through our large cat door.  They were incredibly hungry and trying not to freeze in the winter.  They’d sneak in after P went to bed, and huddle by the fireplace. Twig and I agreed it was OK if they ate some of our crunchy food. If P or G came out when the stray was there, it would run very fast to get back outside. There were a few raccoons who also managed to fit through the cat door and found our food supply.  Finally, P got a smaller cat door. 

That didn’t stop the last category of cat door intruders: domesticated neighborhood Tom cats with no proper sense of territory, or purpose for that matter!  Territory is a big thing for all us cats.  No matter where we live, we each have territorial boundaries and expectations regarding interactions with other animals – especially other cats.  These guys would come in and not only eat our food, they would attack ME!  Apparently, I am the most beautiful cat out here in the forest!  Their attraction to me may have been insurmountable, but their tiny little brains must have thought that meant: “Come on in, sir.  I am mountable.”  Let’s just say in spite of my valiant efforts to fight back, several times I ended up with an abscess from where they bit me on my tailbone!

The story I feel compelled to tell you now started out with one of those rude intruders who made his way through our cat door.

One evening, after P&G had gone to bed, Twig and I were dozing on comfy chairs in the big room.  We heard the cat door open and the next thing you know, a neighbor’s tom cat (Hoppy) is creeping across the room toward our food bowls!  He didn’t even seem to notice we were there!  Twig started growling, hissing and fluffing up.  When I heard that, I immediately jumped down to assess the situation.  Suddenly, Hoppy went for Twig, biting hard on her back near her tail.  That was it!  I charged with the intention of thoroughly trouncing Mr. Hopeful Hoppy.  He was young and strong and turned to me, biting hard on the side of my stomach.  I was fully engaged in quite a loud ruckus by the time G came running out.  He chased that mean tom cat right out the door and locked it up!

The next morning, P noticed Twig was having trouble walking.  She would get upright on her front legs and then look at her back legs wondering why they were not moving like they usually do.  Now, not to diminish Twig’s injuries, but she – unlike a proven warrior like myself – has never actually been hurt in her 17 years on this planet. Of course, she has enjoyed this luxurious life without physical damage thanks mostly to me - her righteous defender.  Now she was really hurt and not sure what to do.  It was pretty sad and Twig was dejected.  Then P noticed a puffy swelling near Twig’s tail.  P knew it was an abscess. They took Twig to the vet and left me there silently suffering with my own painful belly.  

In the morning while Twig was carefully learning to walk again, I flopped myself on P’s lap (which I do NOT usually do) and laid on my side so she could feel the large lump on the side of my belly.  P checked it and did not know what it was.  When G didn’t know either, they got on their talking thing and made plans to take me to the Vet.  Oh glory, I was quite nervous about this development.  Our usual Vet was now on vacation, so I had to go to a new place, which still smelled like a Vet place. This Vet made a very uncomfortable inspection of my belly area and pronounced my discomfort was due to a rather large unknown growth which she believed was a fast-growing “tumor.”  This was because P had not noticed it before that morning… which of course was because it wasn’t there before, but I had no way of actually telling ANY of them it was because Hoppy bit me there – hard!  The vet told them to take me home and then bring me to their hospital for a “surgery” in 6 weeks.  The ride home featured me howling in protest all the way.  I did not know if a tumor was a terrible thing, but judging from the increased stress and sadness energy coming from both P and G, I figured it wasn’t a good thing.

That night, both Twig and I were still feeling yucky.  We didn’t have enough energy to get into our usual territorial fight on the fireplace rug.  In fact, we secretly felt some comfort being near each other, and settled into an unobtrusive tail-touching position.

P called her daughter Lulu and told her all about my “tumor”.  She asked Lulu if she could put some rake-key on me.  Then P made it so I could hear Lulu on the speaker.  She asked me if I would like to have some healing energy called Reiki. I put my nose on the speaking part of the phone to let her know I agreed – mostly because I still felt terrible. Lulu explained all about the Reiki (now I know the right word) and how it would work.  Sounded good, so we did it. 

In the morning, P examined my tumor area and announced it was not at all the same.  Now it was the size of a “hamburger bun” and full of fluid.  She started calling the new Vet, suggesting it looked more like a huge abscess than a tumor, and asking what to do.  At some point, the new Vet told her to “just come at 4:00 if you think it’s that important.”  So, once again, they shoved me in my crate and I howled and growled all the way there.  P told the Vet (once again) that she believed it was a very large abscess – not a tumor.  The Vet agreed to stab me in the fluid-place to see what would come out.  After that, everything changed up.  She told P to leave the room, and had a helper come in. They gave me something so I would stop the howling and I went to LaLa Land. Afterwards, the Vet agreed it was a very large abscess and it would get better.  No tumor surgery for me!  In spite of the good news, I felt like crap and THEN they put some sort of huge white funnel around my neck.  Although I had very little energy left due to my continuing ordeals, I fought that neck ring all the way home.  P kept begging me to stop because I was choking myself, but I JUST DID NOT WANT THAT THING AROUND MY NECK.  We all settled down at home once P removed the funnel of pain!

Later that evening, I was still feeling terrible.  I did not want to eat or get up or move at all.  P called Lulu again, told her the new story, and Lulu offered to send me more of her special healing energy.  P sat with me.  Lulu was far away, but you can send this energy stuff magically through the universe.  I was very hot and lethargic.  I didn’t want to eat or do anything but sleep.  That Reiki energy was nice and friendly so I just went with that and let my feelings go there. 

All of a sudden, I felt better.  P noticed my skin and fur was cooler.  I popped my head up, yawned, stretched and jumped down.  I trotted over to my food bowl and started right in.  I wasn’t all healed up yet, but I sure felt better.  The next day another friend named Gina came over.  She was busy doing things, but she would occasionally stop and give me her kind of Reiki.  I have no idea where this stuff comes from, but it reminds me of what I did to myself after the fisher cat bit me – just put myself in a healing state and purr through it.  Lulu and Gina also sent Reiki to Twig and she is all better now – racing around the house with the zoomies again. 

Oh, by the way… since then, P&G doubled up on our safety.  Every night after dark, they lock our cat door and Hoppy's human puts him on lock-down house arrest.  Probably for his own protection from ME!


P's Rules  

P hates it when Twig and I get into a skirmish.  She does not like conflict even though she should know better - choosing to live in a house with more than one cat. In other words, it comes with the territory, adopters beware. 


When it comes to conflict, I start with the fireplace rug.  When we have a fire in the fireplace, both Twig and I want to be right up close so we can toast ourselves.  This type of toasting often triggers a cat's perfectly natural need to stretch her body to its longest extension.  It's basically yoga.  But there comes a stretching point when it is just not possible for two adult cats to fit comfortably on said fireplace rug.  Having the brains to foresee these developments, I anticipated we would take turns on the rug - changing out when one of us was about to reach the boiling point.  One could argue this is common sense. Those individuals largely underestimate Twig’s Napoleon complex.


One night, I was crouched behind a plant patiently awaiting my turn on the fireplace rug.  Finally, Twig got up, stretched for a very long time, and headed toward her food bowl for one of her stupid grazing snacks (What dignified cat eats like a bird?).  With quick and graceful stealth, I took the hint and immediately settled myself in the spot on the fireplace rug so recently abandoned by Twig.  I wanted to look like I had been there all along.  Soon - out of the corner of my eye - I saw Twig casually approaching the rug still licking her whiskers.  She stopped, hesitated a bit more, then continued to walk toward me on the rug.  I grew cautious, not sure what to expect.  Well, hells bells, she just squatted down behind me and started gently licking and grooming my luxurious coat.  I peeked around to see if this was really happening.  Sure enough, she was cleaning away.  In fact, she was quite gleeful and vigorous in her grooming.  


At first blush, another cat might sense the warning and compress her ears back as a precautionary measure, but I decided to relax and enjoy this special caring from my dear sister cat.  I put my head down gently on my front paws.  I had just started purring when I felt Twig's most excellent canines chomp down hard on my back skin.  What followed was an immediate cacophony of angry cat sounds, threats and a number of powerful right hooks to my face and body from Twig.  With one last pathetic hiss and no further ado, I surrendered and slunk away.  Although Twig’s behavior was exceedingly deplorable, my retreat was one sad parade of cowardice for the books, for sure. 


As for P, she'd had it with us.  That particular skirmish invoked one of her "chats” which continued for eons!  P can be verbose; she went over her "rules" for proper fireplace rug sharing - including excessively dramatic enactments of what it meant to NOT go over the center line - for so long, I truly thought we had reached the end of time as humans know it.  Totally against our wills, we were forced to sit and listen to P's "Ridiculous Rules for Sharing the Rug."  


Get this: The fireplace rug is shaped like a half-circle with the long straight side facing the fireplace.  There are some designs on the rug, including an imaginary line down the middle which was the focus of P's chat.  The rules were quite simple, really.  P designated the side of the rug near her TV chair - up to but not including the center line - as my spot.  The side near G's TV chair - up to but not including the center line - was Twig's spot.  Once she was done talking about our designated AREAS, P looked suspiciously at both of us.  Apparently neither of us did a good job of pretending we were paying attention.  


It was me (of course) who realized P was not giving up on this one.  What came next was actually worse than the verbal preamble to the lock-down house arrest when we were caught with fledging wrens in our mouths.  P was on to us; she knew we were not really listening, or having any intentions of following her rules for OUR fireplace rug!  Henceforth, we were forced to first watch and then participate in, the most ridiculous rehearsal for acceptable fireplace rug behavior in history.  She literally picked us up - one at a time - and placed us on our individual spots on the rug.  Then she made movements with her hands while repeating "This is your area (Fiona) and this is the center line.  You can be on any part of the rug in your area.  You will not touch or go over this center line.  This is your area (Twig) and this is... [blah, blah and endlessness of blah, blah...]."


When P was finally done and released us, we both left the room in disgust; we were quite sick of her and the rug.  I mean, really, how could we not GET IT?   The protracted allocution was really unnecessary seeing as all of the rules - as explained - were quite simple.  


The next night after P started up the heating device in the fireplace, I confidently trotted in and curled myself nicely in MY rug area.  In fact, I made sure I was way over near the far corner of my area - to set a reminder example just in case Twig had forgotten the rules.  I also couldn't wait for P to notice my ability to follow the new rules.  I do so love to be told I am an exemplary feline. 


Twig sauntered in after I was settled.  She stalked over to the fireplace rug and stopped to stare at me being so perfect in my area.  I was cleaning myself and purring loudly.  Twig put her butt down in her area.  She pretended to yawn while slowly stretching herself all the way out to the center line.  Then, while looking right at me, she continued to stretch until all her front toe-pads were well over the line and into my area.  Need I say more?

The Sounds of Aging

Fiona File #13:   The Sounds of Aging


I overheard P talking with one of her friends about me.  For years, others have felt the need to question my presence on countertops, pianos, chairs at the human food trough, and unprotected laps. The gall of some two-leggeds!  I’m used to it though -- being the talk of the town is not for the faint of heart. For years people have made irreverent comments about my rotundity (P’s word).    And, to my delight, P has always defended me – even though, truth be told, she has had to remove me from a few precarious situations in which I may have overlooked a chair’s ability to hold me, or failed to utilize the best paw placement.

P’s latest thing, however, is to tell everyone about my new noise announcements!  Let’s face it, at 17 ½ years old, my hearing is in the crapper (I blame my late-night TV addiction, but it could also be Twig’s left hook).  Either way, I’m well aware P&G find my latest vocal incantations a bit alarming.  Even so, when an intelligent, feline of-a-certain-age needs to get attention, and cannot hear herself calling out, the only logical thing for her to do is to gradually – but insistently - increase volume.  Am I right?  And don’t judge me about my tattle-tailing because first, at least I have a tail -- and second, it’s only fair that when P tells the world about me, I tell on Twig’s shenanigans. 

Although it pains me to get into it, here we are: Twig’s Ziploc bag obsession.

It started one day a long time ago.  P&G had just returned from one of their abandonment trips.  While I was showing my love and gratitude for their return, Twig flew up the curly stairs to the room P calls her “project room.”  (G and I call it P’s junk room.)  Whenever P&G go away, Twig thinks it is great fun to go upstairs and look at all the things in that room.  Well, on that particular day, after a few minutes, Twig came down the curly stairs very carefully with a large plastic bag in her mouth.  Before P&G could see her, she laid it out in the middle of the floor in the big room, and ran away to hide.  When P saw it, she asked G if he had put it there.  G asked P if she did it.  There was a brief discussion during which they concluded it had to be one of them, and then P put it away in a drawer.  Life went on. Humans are so predictable.

Every now and then, Twig would climb urgently up the curly stairs only to return with a plastic bag which she laid out on the floor.  Even though they speculated Twig was doing it, neither P nor G had caught her in the act or seemed to feel confident enough in their belief to call her out. 

Then, one day while P&G were eating and yelling out things to the Jeopardy TV, I just about dropped some perfectly grilled salmon out of my mouth when I saw Twig saunter right up to the table with a bag in her mouth.  She stared right at P, dropped the bag, scoffed loudly, and raced out of the room. What a loon. 

P had been wondering where Twig was getting the bags.  They were all brand new bags and there was no way Twig could get them out of the kitchen drawer.  Finally, P had a bright light moment in her head.  She picked up the bag and went right up the curly stairs to the junk room.  I had to hustle to get up there in time to see P enter the junk room.  She stood at the doorway, clearly aghast at the chaos.  Then she zoomed-in on a large cardboard box containing a collection of smaller boxes of plastic bags in varying sizes.  P shared her pondering with me:  How did Twig actually get to those boxes, much less reach in the slot to pull out a bag with her teeth?  I shared a thoughtful silent retort with P: “How should I know (or care)?  That cute, impish little cat is once again demonstrating her proclivity for unfettered lunacy with these 'bag delivery' endeavors.” 

And, what may you ask did P do?  She put the recently delivered bag BACK in the box of boxed bags, and left.   On the way down the curly stairs, P announced: “I get it now.  This is a game.  I just need to return the bag so she can deliver it again downstairs. She’s playing fetch.”  Need I mention my skepticism about P’s conclusion?  Well, indeed, it did go on, and on, and on for many years.

Then, P started her intuitive animal communication training. 

Twig and I were very proud of her for finally recognizing and developing her ability to do this.  However, she told us that when it came to her own personal animal friends (Twig, me, and the horse, who I’ve never met), it was better to ask someone else to connect with us instead of her.  She said people are so close to their own animals that they have trouble deciphering intuitive messages from their already-formed brain knowledge. In other words, people tend to think they know their own animals well enough to know why they do things. I love when P explains things like this to me because I often have trouble understanding human behavior.

Anyway, P had practice partners who would do practice readings on Twig and me.  And, I loved it – being able to pontificate intuitively my stellar intentions for everything I did.  Twig blew off some of the questions asked during her practice readings.  For example, I wanted P to have her practice partner ask Twig why she was so absolutely bonkers and dramatic about eating.  P chose to re-word my most excellent question to: “Twig, what’s going on with your eating?”  Twig’s impertinent answer: “Enough already about my eating. Don’t worry about it.”

Finally, one day, P asked her practice partner Meg to ask Twig why she was delivering the plastic bags.  Twig answered: “I am reminding P about a project she started and never finished.”  Well!  That was something.  P just started laughing and smacking herself upside her head.  She told Meg a story about how she and her sister B had started going through all the boxes of family stuff in the junk room years ago after their parents died. They had that box of plastic bags to sort and save special things for their siblings.  One day, they got sick of it and closed the door on their efforts. 

After that practice reading, P kept talking about how “poor little Twig” had spent so many days and nights delivering bags – hoping P would get the message.  She imagined how Twig must have been so disappointed when P would chuckle and playfully carry each bag upstairs… thinking it was a game.  P announced she was now shamed into having to address the junk room situation.  And she did.  However, now that Twig was aware P knew what a bag delivery really meant, she became a bit more demanding when she made her deliveries.  Her howling announcements increased in decibels as Twig entered her late teens. (She is a year older than me and her hearing is definitely in the crapper.)

Twig really gets particularly busy delivering bags when P&G are sleeping and P has not been working upstairs for a while.  Each morning when P opens the bedroom door and looks down the hallway, she’ll say something like: “Hey, look G.  It was a 5-bag night!”

So, naturally I adopted the habit of howling as loudly as possible whenever it seemed like P or G was not paying enough attention to my needs.  I also mimicked Twig’s most excellent crescendo techniques for getting more immediate responses from them. Specifically, extra pets, reading room time with G, food or credit for rodent control even when I actually deliver my fluffy gray toy mouse.  (Did I mention more body pets?) I suppose Twig does have some good ideas on occasion... 



ADDENDUM – Friday July 28, 2023

Well, most loyal readers of my famous blog… I have a new situation now which I better share with you.  A few weeks ago, I started feeling a bit more grumpy than normal.  I was lethargic and quite bored with myself for my lack of energy and enthusiasm for all happenings in the forest.  Of course, when P noticed this, she and G promptly loaded me in the cat carry box and took me to the vet place.  I really liked this vet lady!  She checked me over and told P&G “This cat seems to be in great shape.  I wish my cats looked this good at 17 years old!  You must be doing something right.”  We were all quite proud of ourselves and especially me.  They took some of my blood and we waited.  When my new favorite vet returned her energy was sad.  There was a lot of talk with words I did not understand.  But every time she said the words “renal failure,” I knew from the energy in the room that my time on this planet was winding down. 

I do not take this kind of thing lightly, nor do I intend to slump away feeling sorry for myself.  That is not my way of doing things and you all should know that by now!  The vet talked about “options” and we all listened.  I let them discuss this and then slammed P’s intuitive center with a clear message that I would be handling this my way.  I had not been drinking enough, so they filled me up with fluids and sent us home.  

Since our visit to the vet, P has been driving me crazy.  She spent one day crying every time she looked at or talked to me.  Then she realized I had no intention of leaving right away.  I had my plans for these precious last days in my forest home.  P finally understood and has been helping me with my final promenade of “My Favorite Places and Things to Do”.

I’m not able to eat much, but I know I need to keep drinking water.  No more of those needle fluids for me!  I have been helping P so she is better at “reading” her own cat intuitively.  If I wait too long, P picks me up and delivers me to the litter box just in time.  P is quite perceptive for a human and I very much appreciate the teamwork as I continue to orchestrate this final send-off for myself. 

That first night after the vet visit, P made sure I was comfy in my window bed and went to sleep.  Of course, Twig was in their bed.  She knows I reign supreme on that bed, but I didn’t really care this time.  I suppose she deserves a turn.  Anyway… I rested a bit, and then began my final quest.   My plan is to spend some time in each of my favorite places - one more time.  When P&G woke up and did not find me in the window bed, they were shocked and confused.  Off they went searching for me everywhere and calling my name.  I was hiding in the rose bushes by the lake where it is cool.  P was so distraught; I finally came out and arranged myself in the middle of the lawn. 

Eventually, P accepted – with unabashed awe and admiration - my ability to get myself where I wanted to be.  She knew I expected her to photograph each of my landing places.  These pictures will show my last visits to my favorite places for supervising P&G’s yardwork, collecting observational data on chipmunks, stalking (and hopefully consuming) small rodents, watching (and hopefully consuming) baby wrens, preparing to attack a vicious fisher cat (who was hoping to consume me), or taking a nap.    

One more thing… if you think for one minute, I intend to just launch myself over the rainbow bridge and forget about my writing career, you are wrong.  I have already informed P that in the future I will continue to dictate my opinions on all things relevant to the Felinesphere, which I expect will be in a prime location somewhere over the rainbow bridge.  Twig has expressed a mercurial interest in continuing with my blog, but we need to discuss her intentions before I give her permission.  Again, I guess she deserves a turn.


Thank you all for reading my blog.  I sure hope you have learned a few things.  It’s not easy trying to educate humans, but I sure as hell have tried.  Enjoy the surplus of rodents brave followers!

 © Copyright 2024 ~ Pamela Lipe  Revercomb


© Copyright 2022 ~ Pamela Lipe Revercomb