RE-ENTRY INTO FELINE SERFDOM

Questions arose last week about whether Peaches is my first cat, my first foray into feline serfdom.  Actually, he’s not, but I’m a bit out of practice.  We took a kitten into our apartment in 1989, then another, then another…  For the past 28 years, we’ve had at least one and as many as six cats fleeing the vacuum cleaner and winding themselves around our legs.  Runty Caper set the house record for longevity, 23 years.  When she could no longer outrun our puppy, she began playing dead, proof that an old cat can learn new tricks.  As the cats aged, we moved them into a (baby) gated community in a spare bedroom that slowly devolved into a nursing home and then a hospice.  I thought my cat years were over, but during a brisk end-of-autumn walk, our dog flushed Ginger out of a corn field.  Ginger was a decidedly outdoor cat who roamed the neighborhood in weather so inclement it would stop even the postman.  She played with the local skunks, showed up every morning for breakfast, knocked on windows using her paw when she wanted to come in.  It was a new experience for me, a veteran indoor cat person.  When Peaches moved in next door, he was smitten with Ginger and followed her everywhere.  He was heartbroken when we lost her and moped around for weeks, hanging out in our flowerbed pining for her, and eagerly accepting any affection we would give him.  The neighbors (renters dismayed when the owner put the place on the market) closed on a new house last week, one near a state highway.  Afraid for Peaches’ safety and unable to keep him inside all the time, they asked if we’d be willing to take him.

Peaches was docile and affectionate.  His people said he loved being indoors, probably because it was such a rare treat.  Our new adoptee slept in his basket, basked in the sunny bay window, quickly mastered his litterbox, and licked the gravy off his canned food before finishing the tidbits.  Despite ample opportunities for escape, he never tried to make a break for it.  I figured it would be simple to transition him to a house cat.  WRONG.  On Day 5, he did a runner.  Why would he take off on such a cold, drizzly day?  I can only guess he spied his name on the calendar next to the word vet.  I spent the better part of the morning trying to find and capture the scrappy bastard, completely forgetting that since orange cats possess limited ability to camouflage, Peaches would have spent the last two years honing his feline Ninja skills and familiarizing himself with every nook and cranny in the neighborhood.  Trust me, opposable thumbs are no match for a combination like that.

Below is my account of the experience told in SHADORMA, a Spanish form with six lines and the following syllable count: 3 / 5 / 3 / 3 / 7 / 5.  Any subject is fair game; no final shift or turn is necessary.  Shadorma may be written as a single stanza or a series.

INSIDE A CAT’S HEAD

Keen instincts:
On scheduled vet day,
he slips out
the dog door,
reveling in freedom and
his own cleverness

Detailed maps
of the neighborhood:
every fence,
every tree,
spaces under decks and sheds
where he can lay low

Strategy:
outfox, outrun, hide
until owner
surrenders,
slogs home in muddy rain boots,
cancels appointment

Internal clock:
wait fifteen minutes,
reappear,
purr sweetly,
and insist the whole thing was
just coincidence

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14 thoughts on “RE-ENTRY INTO FELINE SERFDOM

  1. chevvy8 September 17, 2017 / 8:05 am

    Sounds like Peaches has a foxy personality. Is it serfdom or fiefdom, sounds like feline rules.
    Enjoy your Sunday, Joan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan September 17, 2017 / 10:00 am

      He does, Chevvy. Cat brains may be smaller than human ones, but unlike us, they make use of every neuron. Peaches has physical and athletic advantages as well. I can’t help but admire his independence, his clever use of resources, his determination to live life on his own terms. Heading out of town for a birthday party, an aunt turning 80, so Sunday might come down on Monday or Tuesday. I’ll be in touch when I can. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 September 17, 2017 / 10:19 am

        Have Fun Joan and happy birthday to your aunt. We’ll catch up when you are back in town. Best. Chevvy

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tippy Gnu September 17, 2017 / 8:17 am

    What a clever cat. Maybe next time you should write his vet appointments in dog language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan September 17, 2017 / 9:45 am

      Thanks, Tippy. I think outdoor cats have sharper instincts; that was true with Ginger, too. I suppose I could use a secret code on the calendar… or ask one of the dogs to write it. But how much do you want to bet Peaches is multi-lingual? I’m learning to not underestimate him. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan September 18, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      Thanks, Marissa. Peaches’ timing is impeccable. But after he returned, I double-crossed him; I called the vet back and got him in later that day. Now that we know he’s healthy, he can have his little surgery. It’s scheduled for tomorrow. 🙂

      Like

  3. L. T. Garvin, Author September 17, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    Oh Joan, I have six cats now. I rarely admit that to anyone, but it is true. It’s no wonder I like you so much, we are animal people. I also have two dogs: my son’s Collie (he’s away at college) and my mother’s little dog. It’s hard taking care of a zoo, but animals are such a gift. I love the Shadorma! That Peaches is a smart little fellow. I’ve had them disappear close to an appointment, but I managed to capture them just in time, what luck! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan September 18, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Six? I can see why you keep that to yourself, Crazy Cat Lady! I’m allergic to them, actually, but have desensitized myself by having so many over the years. Peaches is our one and only feline now, and we have two Pit-mixes from the county pound. They’re six and seven now and we’ve had them since they were pups. Dogs are the best givers of unconditional love. Shadorma is fun, only a few more syllables than Haiku, but with careful word choices, enough to tell a story. Peaches might be a mind-reader, so I have to be careful what I think when he’s around. His surgery is early tomorrow morning and I’ve already rounded him up, just have to be careful about doors and windows until then. Wish me luck. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author September 18, 2017 / 10:16 pm

        I’m gonna keep my Cat Lady fingers crossed that you get Peaches out the door in the morning, ha ha! Dogs are so precious. Lots of luck 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan September 20, 2017 / 1:13 pm

        Thanks for that, Lana. All went according to plan and The Peach is recovering, taking it easy in his basket. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. circumstance227 October 27, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    I believe I was the one who welcomed you to Catworld – and now I see you have ten times my experience. 23 years is an awesome lifespan for a cat – and to think I was once proud of the 18 years our first cat made it! Your new Peach is one lucky feline. Even has her own poem! None of my cats ever got a poem . . .until now!

    Gina (aka “Gina the Bitch”)

    First cat lived
    More near than with us
    Came in through
    Tilted windows,
    Peed on husband’s side of bed,
    Then ate, and then left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan October 27, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks, 227. Cat World is indeed an interesting place. My cats were strictly indoor until Ginger and Peach, who enjoy household comforts but refuse to be converted. Interestingly, the 23-year old cat was the runt of the litter and the vet said she “probably wouldn’t live very long.” HA! Guess she showed him. Feisty Gina cracked me up… reminded me of a friend whose cat used to wipe his behind, brown streaks and all, on her husband’s pillowcase. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 October 28, 2017 / 4:48 pm

        My husband would definitely relate with your friend’s story! For years he had to inspect the bed (with eyes and nose) before he got in at night.

        Liked by 1 person

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