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4:06 p.m. - August 16, 2005
Butch And Sundance - Two Cats With Agendas. Secret Agendas.
Yes, I am a cat person. But please, don’t hold that against me.

I’ve always preferred cats over dogs – mainly for their independent spirit and general attitude. “Hey, I’m living my life here – you live your life and we’ll be happy, OK? Oh, and make sure the dang litter box is clean and put food in my bowl.”

Most of the time, cats ask for no quarter and give none back. Of course, sometimes they want to be petted and cuddled and then they purr like there’s no tomorrow. And in return, sometimes they will allow you to pet and cuddle them when it’s not exactly high on their agenda. (Don’t think cats don’t have agendas – they certainly do. They’re just not telling us.)

We have two cats, littermates 1 ½ years old named Butch and Sundance. We adopted them from the Humane Society in Indianapolis in April of last year, right after they were relieved of their…packages. Katie picked them out – she absolutely fell for them when they were kittens. As you can see, who wouldn’t:

But they’ve grown! Oh, how they’ve grown. This is a picture of Butch taken in December of this year, when he was 10 months old.

I don’t have pictures of Butch and Sundance together now. Are you kidding? Yes, they are brothers and littermates and all, but they are both working on separate pieces of the overall cat agenda, and they can’t be bothered for photo ops. There’s work to be done!

I had a cat when I was a little kid. Tiger was her name, and she actually was born in the 1950’s. Our family had here for a long, long time, but for a couple of years she went away. But she came back out of the blue – so those stories about cats finding their way home after a long separation is true.

Tiger was an outdoor cat. We kept her in the garage. I’m more convinced that was because my mom wanted to keep the house museum fresh instead of an aversion to cats. I mean, one cat hair on the sofa would mean a total scrubdown of the living room.

At age 18, Tiger met her demise. She played a game when we drove the car in the garage. She would play chicken, as it were, and move at the very last minute. Well, one night Mom didn’t quite stop in time and Tiger didn’t move in time. I was in bed, and all I remember was a scream. Dad told me to stay in the house – and he scooped up Tiger and buried her in the backyard by the shed that night. That was the end of Tiger, and except for futile efforts at gerbils and fish that was the end of my pet experience as a kid.

I hadn’t had any pets for about 18 years when I started to date Liz. She had a cat named Foggy that was quite petulant, even for a cat. Foggy had some….issues. Issues would be a mild word. Foggy had a traumatic kitten-hood, and definitely needed some time on the kitty couch. But she and Liz had a strong bond for several years.

The first time I had an...overnight…at Liz’s apartment Foggy expressed her displeasure with yours truly, the interloper. I put my glasses on the counter top by the futon. Foggy was an indoor / outdoor cat, and when she was let inside and saw that I was still there, she pounced into action. “The nerve of him still hanging around!” So she scuttled up to the counter and with one thwack sent my glasses flying across the room.

But I was not deterred, and eventually Foggy and I achieved a quiet détente. It was definitely like a Breshnev and Chairman Mao relationship. Oh, I did try to get on her good graces. But Foggy only warmed up to me when Liz was gone for an extended period of time. I felt like I was the second-runner-up as far as the cat was concerned.

When Katie came into our life, Foggy was as kind and gentle as a 15-year old cat that has serious psycho-trauma could be. But as Katie grew, we knew there could be trouble, and trouble there was. Foggy had some hip problems and couldn’t scamper away, and all Katie wanted to do was pet and cuddle the kitty. Of course, 18-month olds petting and cuddling a kitty means an 18-year old pounding on a kitty’s back and tackling the kitty like she was a Chicago Bears’ quarterback.

Foggy hung on – but it was rough for her. Finally, last October we decided it was time. Foggy still had hip problems, was mewling in pain all the time, couldn’t get up and down the stairs very well, and kept having accidents from both ends of the…cat. The vet agreed that she was only going to get worse. So one day we told Katie that the cat had to go away – and she did. Katie never really asked about Foggy, even when she was gone for a couple of days. Later, we got Foggy’s ashes and sprinkled them around the tree in our front yard.

But we knew it was only a matter of time before we would get some new kittens. Liz and I decided on two, because they’d have someone to play with even when no one was home. And with two, we thought one could make a break for freedom while Katie had the other one in her clutches.

So Butch and Sundance came into our lives. We had a struggle with their names at first. I had thought of Akbar and Jeff (but without the fezzes), or maybe Maurice and Henri (after the Richard brothers of NHL fame), or maybe even Gidney and Cloyd (from Bullwinkle, of course). But Liz loved her some Robert Redford movies, so I thought of the coolest one I could think of, and thus they were christened Butch and Sundance. Of course, if we had a third one, I’d name it after the Strother Martin character, Percy Garris. “Morons, I’ve got morons on my team!”

When they were kittens they always romped around the house and wanted attention from us all the time. But now, they’re into their sullen teenage cat years. The only time they ever want attention from me is if their food bowl is empty. Then they just rub up against my feet and ankles, purring loudly. Do I see through their ulterior motive? Yes! But I think this is preparing me for teenagers down the road.

Butch is the larger cat of the two. He’s got the most blonde on him (or whatever the hell color that is). He’s the loudest purrer in the world. He’s also the smartest and quickest. He knows how to make the getaway when Katie comes charging at them, wanting her some kitty love.

So that leaves Sundance to take the abuse from the 3 ½ year old. He just can’t get away quick enough, so inevitably Katie has him on the couch in some sort of weird wrestling hold that he can’t quite escape from. Sundance also has been shut in a dresser drawer and closed up in Katie’s armoire. (Both transgressions did result in mega-time-out for Katie, but still the poor cat just wasn’t smart or quick enough to get away).

WARNING: PEE STORY AHEAD!

Sundance also personifies curiosity killing the cat. He was the one who jumped into the toilet when I was using it to #1. I looked over to the cat, who had his feet perched on the bowl, staring intently at the liquid inside, and said, “Don’t go in there now, Sundance. Don’t go…oh, crap….LIIIIIIIIIIIIZ!” I think we used about 50 baby wipes on that cat to make sure he was clean and un-stinky. Sundance also has been accidentally shut in the dryer for about a minute (not turned on, thank goodness) and in our kitchen cabinets.

PEE STORY WARNING HAS EXPIRED. RESUME REGULAR TRANSMISSION!

With these two, everything is a cat toy. You name it; it’s been batted, poked, swatted, or sniffed. The cats definitely like to play with some plastic eggs that we had left over from an Easter egg hunt. In our kitchen, on the vinyl flooring, it sounds like a hockey team is on the power play, with the egg schussing back and forth:

“Butch at the point…passes over to Sundance, who fakes a shot, and passes back to Butch. Butch dekes a move, fires over to Sundance…ONE TIMER! GOAL! A POWER PLAY GOAL AND THE SENATORS LEAD 4-1!!!”

Right now the cats are adjusting to Kristin. When we knew she was on the way, we dug out all of the old bassinettes and placed them in the proper rooms. Of course, the cats found that they could easily snuggle in the bassinettes themselves. They also jump into the crib all the time, and even on top of the changing table. Butch likes the changing table, for some reason. It’s like he’s king of the world up there. Not that he doesn’t think like he’s king, anyway.

Their reaction to Kristin is one of bemused cat indifference. “Oh, there’s something in the bassinette that I like to jump into. Let me sniff and see what it is. She kind of smells like those other beings in my midst. I guess she has privileges, but I’ll be on the lookout for any signals that she’s going to be like the one known as Katie.”

So my house has two adults, two little girls, and two cats. Rather much the right balance, I say. Well, except when the cats finish their agenda. Then, there will be trouble.

 

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