We enjoyed Mama Kitty and those kittens while we fell in love, and a year or two afterwards, we moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and got the first of our own series of cats, a black male we named Kitty. Kitty enjoyed the same free masculine status as Mr. Baker. He had nightly catfights on Johnson Lane where we slept with the screenless windows open in the summer. Often the catfights came inside. I was not too far past the birth of our son, so I when the cats set up a howl in our living room I was jolted awake from much needed sleep. Eventually, Gabe, our newly mobile baby, started crawling after Kitty, catching his tail, lying on top of him, pinning him to the ground, squealing with delight. Kitty didn’t make a fuss about it. I suppose he had accepted his diminished status from Kitty Baby, to just plain bothersome cat.
When we moved to a new house on Gonzales Rd, Pepper got caught in a car engine and had his leg burned and mangled. He had to go to the vet for some expensive and extensive kitty surgery and a long recovery before he came home again. Mittens ran away that same night, obviously scared off by the trauma in a new and terrifying neighborhood. She showed up two month’s later on West Manhattan Ave., skinny and purring. She had crossed several miles of city, hunting, and finding water where she could, navigating by some magical kitty radar.
Now, that orchard houses other kitty graves. The cats died from varying causes, anything from old age to coyotes. Coyotes regularly prowl the neighborhood, coming down from higher ground by way of arroyos. I’ve seen them outside the bedroom, in the yard, on the driveway, and in arroyos. We also have deer who come down to eat our roses and drink from the neighbor’s bird bath. Last winter I saw two bobcats out the window.
We got two black cats this time for safety sake. If out at night they are less visible to predators. Our friend, Barbara, Aamodt, a very special nonagenarian, says if she can keep a cat two years, she can keep him twenty. I hope that will be true with our beloved two.
Dexter is big, strong, lithe, and likeable. His companion, though not litter mate, step-brother, Rufus, is easily spooked, runs from most people, except me, whom he adores. He hunts quite well, but is definitely the submissive, and Dexter, the dominant cat. If Rufus is on my lap and Dexter comes anywhere near, Rufus will jump down and slide under the couch. Then Dexter jumps up for his petting.
We have erected a very nice cat fence around a portion of the back yard with small openings in several places, so the cats can run in and out. I call them in at night to feed them a treat--wet cat food from a can--and lock the kitty door. Then I feel safe to go to sleep, even if I hear a pack of coyotes howling.
However, Jim has confessed that Dexter asks to go out every night, and Jim usually lets him. Dexter is his favorite, after all.
You got to love a man who loves a cat.
- There are about 10 million more domesticated cats in the US than dogs.
- A cat’s normal body temperature is around 102 degrees. Hence the pleasant cuddle factor.
- Men and women are equally likely to own a cat.
- Cats sleep 70 percent of the time, or around 16 hours a day.
- Cats can jump up to five times their own height in a single bound. Some sources say seven times.
- Domesticated cats have been around since 3600BC. One source said 9000 BC.
- A cat’s purr is a form of self healing (as well as a sign of nervousness or contentment.) The frequency of a cat’s purr is the same as that at which muscles and bones repair themselves.
- The world’s richest cat inherited $13 million from his owner.
- Female cats are typically right-pawed while male cats are typically left-pawed. (Gabe’s friend Evan once did a school science fair project around right and left-paw-ed-ness in cats. )
- Cats are smarter than dogs, but dogs have a higher social IQ.
- “Cat people” are 11% more likely to be introverts
- Cats bring home their prey, not to share, but to teach their person, how to hunt.
- Cats dream.
- Cats dropped from a variety of heights can right themselves and land on their feet unharmed. This phenomenon has been studied by NASA as well as thousands of scientists and household experimenters. Thankfully, most of the experiments were conducted over a soft landing place, like a bed.
- August 8 is World Cat Day.