Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walking my cats

Yes, I did say cats, not dogs. 
I am a certified dog trainer, but I own cats. 
5 of them actually. 
I didn't set out to be the crazy cat lady with 5 cats - it just seem to happen.

They are all rescues with sad stories, and I am a sucker for sad stories. Mace, the 4 year old with the crooked tail, showed up in our driveway in the late winter of '08, starving, his leg broken and his skin hanging from his bones. He had a microchip - but the Humane Society (who had originally placed him) said that the house was empty and looked like it had been that way for a while. They also said Mace was only 9 months old. Okay, he melted our hearts with his high energy, toddler-like antics, his handsome tuxedo coat and his piercing golden eyes.

Then last year, after the tragic passing of both my beloved 16-year old cat Tad and my son's 15 year-old cat Lily, we added Domino (pictured above) also known as Dom, and his "sister" Spring. They were found together with two other kittens in a dumpster downtown, only 3-4 weeks old. They were so matted with stuff that they had to be shaved after 4 baths didn't get everything off. The vet and people in the cat show world we know have told us that Dom is part Maine Coon, given his 20 lbs body and his 40 inch length. He also has the classic long tail, "snow shoe" paw pads and high pitched squeak of a meow. Unfortunately, God only felt that good looks was all Dom needed - he is by far the dumbest cat I have ever owned.

His "sister" Spring is this tiny 5 pound cat with Cleopatra eyes. She is my baby, and won't let anyone else touch her but me. She had to climb on my chest and make biscuits (knead) and sit behind me in what ever chair I am in (including the toilet - I gave up on privacy with my first cat!). She loves to play fetch with me, bringing her toy mice to me, dropping them on my lap and waiting for me to throw them (see, I don't REALLY need a dog!).

Then there is the brother and sister, Taffy and Tuffy. They are 13 year old Tonkinese cats, a breed that is a cross between Burmese and Siamese. Yes, in case you are wondering, they are LOUD. They were originally owned by a gentleman at the church I attend. He got them as kitten from a breeder to complement to two Burmese he had, Bogie and Bacall. When the man became overwhelmed by his cancer, I was asked to come in and take care of the cats (along with his other 4!). It was only a few weeks before cancer won the battle, and my task then became to find homes for all the cats. All the cats BUT these two find home quickly, but no one wanted to take two elderly cats, especially with the fact that the female, Taffy, is completely deaf. I found a wonderful rescue group to foster them, but that quickly went south when both cats developed pneumonia.
So, needing a place to foster them while on antibiotics, they came to my house.

And this is how I got 5 cats.

Now that you have that info, you might want to know about the title - walking my cats. Yes, I do walk my cats. We live in a beautiful neighborhood surrounded by the Sierras - which are populated by coyotes. People that live around here refer to free roaming cats as "Coyote Bait". It is sad to drive through our area and see all the "Cat Missing" posters. I choose not to have to put one of those up for any of mine, so I let them out for supervised strolls in my backyard.

Three out of the five cats could care less about leaving my backyard - it is just Spring and Mace that are the fence hoppers. So, every morning I put on my shoes, open the back door and out they go! It is usually around 6am that I do this - not by choice, mind you. I would rather it be 7:30 or so.

Dom and Tuffy have different ideas. They start howling like the coyotes themselves and in an act of self preservation, I usher them outside so everyone else can sleep. I know they plan this - they flip a piece of cat kibble to decide who is going to climb on my face and meow the loudest.

I've tried to ignore them, but then they wake up everyone else, and I am the one that has to suffer with the grumpy-growly guys all day, not the cats. So, I trudge bleary eyed outside, with 5 sets of feet following behind me. We usually only spend about 30-45 minutes out there, enough time to chase a few birds, ambush a few crickets, and roll in the dirt.

Not a bad way to greet the morning. 

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