The Fiona Files: A Blog from the Felinesphere

Index:

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.



File # 3 – 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. 

File # 4 – 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.

File # 5 - 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.

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File # 6 - 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.

©Copyright Pamela Lipe Revercomb