October 3, 2006

Nine and a Half Pounds of Dynamite

This is Beth Anderson, guest-blogging while Hotclue is off in Colorado trying to learn how to ski. I apologize for her absence, but her lessons seem to take longer than anyone else’s. Last I heard though she wasn’t skiing, she was sitting in the bar telling jokes. That is so like Hotclue. I apologize, also, for this post being made so late, but I’ve been meeting myself coming and going over the past few days. Hopefully I can make it up to you.

A big name author recently wrote that writers should never blog about their cats. Well, I’m going to anyhow, just this once.

My daughter Barb and her Totally Wonderful Significant Other, Chris, came up this past week to paint my living room and finish peeling the wallpaper off in our hallway (that we started peeling a year and a half ago) and paint that too. They brought their dog, Denali. A big dog. A friendly, galloping big dog. A sweet, friendly, loving, big, galloping dog.

I have three cats. All three are experts at psychological warfare. You don’t dare cross them because they retaliate. And of course, they don’t like dogs.

A little background here, before we get to this weekend’s debacle. (Yes, I know you’re not supposed to start writing anything with background, but I’m gonna, just this once.)

First, we have Jessica, who is almost 20 years old. We adopted her from a family who had to get rid of their cat. A co-worker who knew exactly what she was doing showed us her photo and I fell in love. I’d take her, but my friend had to take her to the vet to get her neutered and declawed, I was to pick her up and bring her home. I wanted her to love me, but I also didn’t want her sneaking out and having kittens, as young, un-neutered females are prone to do. We bonded that evening when she was still hiding under our bed and I slid a bowl of water and a dish of food under and reached my hand out to her at the same time. Jessica’s paw moved over, touched mine, and suddenly I had a cat.

Jessica is sweet, she’s gentle, but she also has a vile, petulant side. I’m almost sure she’s my mother-in-law reincarnated, who used her devious other-worldly ways to infiltrate herself into our lives just as she did when she was human. I adore her, and I’m sure my mother-in-law appreciates having me forever stroke her head, telling her how sweet and adorable she is.

Second up, Beemer, my boy cat. He picked up my husband outside of a restaurant one Halloween. Beemer was too young to have been running around loose, he obviously had been starving and one paw was burned. He followed my husband to the car. When my husband opened the door, Beemer jumped in. My husband called me from the car and informed me it looked like we now had two cats. I said no, absolutely not.

When I got home from work that night Beemer had already been to the vet, had all of his baby shots, his foot was bandaged and he was eating. He hasn’t stopped eating since, although he did take time out that night to jump up on my lap and purr into my neck. Of course I fell in love and he stayed. He still thinks he’s starving. He gets dry heaves when he’s not fed on time. (His time, not mine.) He’s huge now, he’s messy, he has a touchy stomach, he’s obstinate, but he loves me. What else can I say other than Beemer is male.

Last, I hope, but not least, The World’s #1 Worst Terrorist, Sarge. Sarge came to us in a friend’s pocket. Very tiny, the runt of the litter, the last one left, and–the story goes–they were going to take her to the pound. One peek at those sweet, innocent, dewy eyes and I was hooked. Here was an adorable tiny kitten who needed a home. I had a home. She took one look around and realized we were goyem. Little did we know how goyem we really were. Within one day she had climbed up a pair of $500 sheers on my living room picture window and torn them to shreds.

I hid the sheers so nobody would know she’d done that, which tells you how quickly I fall in love. In fact, I’ve never had her declawed because by that time I had decided declawing is a horrible thing to do to cats. As a result, Sarge has had her way with countless blowup mattresses, and the chair in my writing room is in shreds, but what’s most important, a chair or the cat? Sarge, so named because she has three stripes on her arms, rules the house. She’s little, she’s fast, she’s sneaky and she’s tough as hell. Just about what you’d expect from the runt out of a litter of eight.

But enough background. Back to the Big Redecorating Weekend.

In my infinite wisdom, I had figured out that if we kept all three cats in our bedroom all weekend, everything would be fine. I brought in their water bowls. Their dry food bowls. Their litter box. I knew within minutes that was a mistake because one of the cats used it. Even so, it was too late, That Dog was already in the house.

Somehow we managed to keep them all in the bedroom all Friday and Saturday. We got half the living room painted. Then, early Sunday when my husband went to the bathroom, all three cats tore out of the bedroom. Quietly, of course.

Among all of her other self-imposed duties, Sarge is our Hall Monitor. She’s perfectly capable of standing in front of a hundred-pound dog and daring him to come any further, which she did. When I got up, Sarge was standing in the doorway between the dining room and the family room, where Barb and Chris were sleeping. Dog wanted to come out and play. Sarge didn’t want him to. He had backed up, cowering, behind the sofa. Sarge wasn’t about to let him by. And he was letting her get away with it. A hundred pounds of dog, cowed by a nine-and-a-half-pound cat. Unbelievable.

I walked into the kitchen and found the other two cats eating That Dog’s food. Sarge joined them in their quest and I know exactly what their quest was because by now I know how cat psychology works. Since Dog wasn’t leaving, they were going to starve him to death, and Sarge wasn’t going to let him anywhere near his water either. Now get this. Normally you have to put the cat food up where the dog won’t get it, and normally you have to protect cats from strange dogs.

Not in this household. In this household the cats eat the dog’s food and the poor dog doesn’t dare look crosseyed at them no matter what they do. I fully expect them to construct a Tent City in the hallway so he can’t get out of the family room.

Update, Saturday Afternoon:

Two cats under my bed, Sarge on top of the refrigerator where she can Watch Everything, Dog asleep in the family room. That Dog ate all the cats’ food, score one for him, I didn’t see him do it either. To his credit, so far he has stayed out of the litter box, which contains several (to any dog) Delectable Doggie Tootsie Rolls. I’m off to clean the cat box right now. More later.

Update, Sunday Morning:

The cats are now institutionalized. They won’t leave my bedroom. They all got the message at the same time, apparently…except for Sarge.

Barb took That Dog outside to do his thing early on, and Sarge took up her post at the back door. When they were ready to come back in, That Dog took one look at who was guarding the door and hid behind Barb, shivering. Barb insisted they were coming in. Sarge stayed where she was. Barb and That Dog came in the house. Sarge said, “Whoa now, wait just a damn minute here!” and took a flying leap at That Dog’s head, probably intending to tear it off. BUT That Dog finally got all his nerve together, gave a mighty lunge and barked.

This time, Dog 1, Cat 0. Sarge ran back into the bedroom and stayed there the rest of the day with the other two cats. We actually got a lot done Sunday. Not only the painting but Chris, the most adorable and brilliant of wonderful human beings, built me, without me knowing he was doing it, a beautiful flat stone and river rock walkway out the back door to our fence, and in addition to that, a beautiful little garden with flowering bushes and mulch covering the dirt. An absolute oasis, a lovely spot to look at when things get to be too much in the house, which they often do. Bless them. They’ve saved my sanity.

Dog went home that afternoon. My Grandpuppy, I call him, and I miss him. Besides being totally sweet and completely loveable (he sat on my lap Saturday night during a huge thunderstorm while Sarge sat at the window and watched all the fireworks) he’s the only one I’ve ever seen who could actually make Sarge behave for more than fifteen minutes.

That was my weekend. How was yours?

Hots will be back next weekend, and Sarge says Hey!

Love, Beth (A poor substitute for Hotclue, I know, but as with everything else, I try.)

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  1. I have two big dogs and three cats. Amazingly the dogs will stand back and just stare when I scoop their food out in the evening because the cats get first dibs.

    Don’t get me wrong–they’re all friends. It’s just that the male cats (who are all between 11 lbs and 18 lbs) somehow have seduced our female dogs. I think I have furry little gigelos.

    Good to see you, Beth! I’m pretty sure I got a text message from Hotclue saying she and her massage therapist were going to check out the bunny hills!

    Cats are the best! Right up there with doggies!

    Erika

    Reply

  2. Oh My! Sarge is a trip! You didn’t mention her love for all things that look like a purse. ROFL. She’s my kinda cat. Although, I don’t think my beagle, Skye, would tolerate anyone coming near me. But I think she’s wreck havoc if a cat went near her food, unless of course it meant she could then eat mine.

    Reply

  3. I’ve decided Hotclue is gong to make Sarge famous, as she should be since she’s such a character all by herself. I may even put her in a book someday, if I ever stop writing suspense. I can’t imagine Sarge in a suspense, though. A comedy maybe, yes, or a chick lit, she’d be perfect there, with her purse fetish, LOL!

    Come back soon, y’all. Love ya’s,
    Beth, and soon, although not soon enough for me, Hotclue.

    Reply

  4. Sorry to be late joining the party. Beth Anderson you’re too funny and there’s no reason Sarge couldn’t be in a mystery. Remember Asta? Nah, you’re probably too young. Asta belonged to Nick and Nora Charles of 1940’s mystery fame. Sarge is a millenium kinda kitty who would provide not only comedy relief but could stumble onto clues a human would never notice. I say bring ‘er on.

    good blog, Beth. Hotclue will be eating her heart out that she played while you were a blogging success.

    Reply

  5. Hey, Sloane, I just heard from Hotclue. She was, as Erika said, with her massage therapist (who the Count hasn’t met) and they were checking out something…I couldn’t make out the words since they were a little garbled, but she mentioned something about an exercise mattress and silk sheets…I’ll have to ask her when she gets back from Colorado.

    Hugs, come back again soon,
    Beth

    Reply

  6. Hi, I came to see this blog entry because of your DL posting that you’d like to name a cat Furball. Don’t do it. It’s too negative. What if it becomes a self-fullfilling phophecy, like the woman who thought it amusing to name her cat Fleabag and soon had a house infested with fleas. Then the poor cat had to adapt to a new name after the whole house was de-flea-ed.
    Lorraine

    Reply

  7. OMIGOD, I had the flea thing about a year ago. I thought because mine are inside cats and (here comes the dumb part) they only went outside in our own closed in backyard for a little while each day that they wouldn’t get fleas. When they got them, I had no idea what was wrong, because the eggs had clustered under their chins. The vet set me straight, we got the eggs and fleas off, de-flea’d the house, and they wear flea collars now, which they hate but we haven’t had fleas since then. Okay, no negative names. I love them all too much to do that, anyhow. Thanks for stopping by!
    Beth and Hotclue

    Reply

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