Friday, August 27, 2010

Wild Kingdom

I don't need to subscribe to the cable network, Animal Planet. I have my own little wild kingdom right here at home. But it hasn't always been that way.

Over the years, we've had several cats and a couple of big, outdoor dogs. But big dogs smell if you don't bathe them and they're just too hard to bathe in winter. So, I've mostly been a cat person. 

Our favorite and longest living cat was Daisy, a smart, lovable domestic long-hair. She shed and coughed up nasty hairballs, but she wasn't a lot of trouble. My youngest daughter even taught her to do tricks. She would chase laser lights and flashlight beams and jump up to hang from my daughter's arm. Then about six years ago, we adopted Titi.

Titi is a Malti-Poo. She was nine months old when we got her. Daisy didn't like her much, but she tolerated her. Titi learned to sit, play dead, and shake "hands." But mostly, she's just a lapdog. She sits beside me for hours and follows me where ever I go. And she's become my writing muse. When I write, Titi curls up on the futon in my office and waits patiently. She even helps me keep a writing schedule. At the same time every morning and every evening, Titi looks at me and goes into my office. If I don't follow, she comes to check on me.

Titi and Daisy became pals until Daisy died of renal failure at thirteen. And I swore I'd never have another cat.

Titi was alone for awhile with just people companions. Then my oldest daughter left home to go to college. She moved into a house and adopted a three year old Lhasa Apso named Scooter. A year later, my daughter transferred to a university and couldn't take Scooter so he stayed with us. We thought we'd have Scooter for awhile, but my daughter got married less than a year later and took Scooter with her to Alabama. But after her husband completed his basic training, the army sent him to Germany. And Scooter came to live with us a bit longer.

During that time, my youngest daughter got a kitten. And our house turned into wild kingdom.
Cha Cha is a short-haired black male. Titi and the cat bonded. Scooter was terrified of the kitten. For awhile, Cha Cha thought Titi was his mother. And let me tell you, it freaked my husband out to see a kitten trying to nurse a dog. Especially a dog that never had puppies.

Scooter eventually came to an understanding with Cha Cha and the two tolerated one another. Until Cha Cha started climbing into Scooter's crate. For awhile there was a battle for dominance between Cha Cha and Scooter. I think Cha Cha won. And eventually, we put Scooter on a plane and sent him to my daughter in Germany.

And that's when the fun really began.

My nephew had taught Cha Cha how to use the doggie door and he eventually grew big enough to jump the fence and venture out into the big bad world. At first, Cha Cha would bring in baby birds. We'd take them out of his mouth and set them free. Then he started bringing in dead mice and dead birds, leaving them as "gifts" on my daughter's bedroom floor. When we didn't appreciate his "gifts," he brought us another live bird and this time, he turned it loose in the house.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to catch a wren that doesn't want to be caught? I finally captured the little bird and tossed it out the front door.

Next, there was a live mouse. The cat dropped it in the kitchen while I was cooking and refused to catch it or kill it as it scurried under the dinging room table. I stood with spatula in hand, yelling at the cat to get the mouse. The cat laid in the floor an began casually licking his paws, looking at me as if I were a nuisance. Before I could grab a shoe and kill the thing myself, Titi ran under the table and killed it for me. And that's when I learned my dog is a champion mouser. But Cha Cha is a mini panther and he likes to hunt.

I came home one day to find a dead blue jay in my dining room. Cha Cha faked innocence but I'd had enough. I wanted to get rid of the cat, but Lauren loves that evil beast my husband nicknamed Satan. And I love my daughter. So, Cha Cha stayed.

After the blue jay incident, Cha Cha brought in a baby rabbit and turned it loose in my office while I was trying to write. I had a time catching it. When I picked up the little fellow, his little back legs were just a pumping,his heart a pounding. Talking to him in soft tones, I carried him outside and set him free while my husband held the cat hostage in the house until the rabbit got away. Or so we thought...

The next day, Cha Cha brought me a rabbit's foot--a bloody baby rabbit's foot. He left the mutilated bunny carcass, in the yard.

We're always finding dead, brids, mice, rats, moles, and voles in the yard. Cha Cha is quite the hunter. He once brought in a live squirrel and turned it loose in my bathroom.

I tried to catch the squirrel but it ran down the hall and into my daughter's room. My husband came at it with a baseball bat, wanting to bash it's little head in. I yelled at him and threw him out the room so I could catch the squirrel. Hubby yelled at me, telling me squirrels had sharp teeth and claws and would, "tear me up."

But the squirrel just looked scared. He was sitting on my daughter's pillow, his little chest heaving. The cat circled my feet, growling low and deep in his throat. I talked calmly to the squirrel, trying to gain its trust so I could pick him up. My husband raised the bat and told me to stay back.

"You can't catch a squirrel," he said. "It's a wild animal."

Naturally, I had to prove him wrong.

So, I picked up the baby squirrel, talking softly to it and stroking its tiny head. He curled sharp claws around my index finger and gave me a look of desperation. His claws tightened as if to say he'd fight to the finish if I harmed him, but the cat was growling and the Squirrel was terrified.

I carried the squirrel outside and placed him high up in a tree. He didn't bite or scratch and looked down as if to say, "Thank-you," before scampering off into the branches. My daughter said I was an idiot but started calling me the Squirrell whisperer. My husband asked me if I thought I was Ellie Mae.

I was feeling rather cocky about it so when the cat brought in a flying squirrel, I thought I could use my animal talents to rescue that little critter too. The cat cornered the squirrel in the bathroom, so I kicked the cat out and shut the door. I squatted on my haunches and spoke calmly to the critter. It sat huffing and puffing beside the toilet, eying me with suspicion.

I approached slowly, as I had with the tree squirrel, talking softly. Moving cautiously, I reached for the little fellow with my right hand and cupped his bottom with my left hand.

And that's when he bit me.

He clamped down on my index finger and started gnawing me like an overcooked sirloin. I screamed and tried to pull him off but he dug down deeper. I tried shaking him off like a sticky booger, but he held on tight.

Finally, I lowered my hand to the floor until his feet touched the tile. And that's when he finally let go...and flew over my shoulder, scaring ten years off my life!

Now I was trapped in the bathroom with a vicious attack squirrel no bigger than my palm, but that little sucker could fly! And he was between me and the door.

My first instinct was to grab something and kill it. But he looked so scared. And vulnerable. He sat beside the laundry hamper, chest heaving, eyes glued to me, his little body quivering. So, I picked up a hand towel and threw it over his head. Then I wrapped him up so he couldn't bite me again. He squealed as I took him down the hall, the cat stalking me as if I'd rung the dinner bell. Then I opened the front door and tossed him out. I've never seen something so small move so fast! I had a time keeping the cat inside.

Now, some people would say, "Just close off the doggie door so the cat can't get out." In fact, I've been told that alot. But Titi loves the freedom the doggie door gives her so the doggie door stays. I've threatened to get rid of Cha Cha, but my daughter loves him. And as much as I claim to hate that cat, he kind of grows on you. But just when I thought Cha Cha and I had made our peace, he decided to get even with me for releasing the squirrels.

I came home from work one afternoon and rushed to the bathroom. It was a bit of an emergency so I didn't take time to shut the door. Then Cha Cha walked in and dropped a full grown rat--not mouse--at my feet. I screamed and picked up my feet and the rat ran to the corner and looked at me with red beady eyes. I yelled at the cat to kill it, but he just sprawled out on the bathroom rug and started grooming himself. So, I screamed for Titi.

Titi came running but stopped at the doorway. The rat huddled in the corner. I sat on the john with my feet off the floor, yelling, "Get the rat, Titi! Kill it!"

Titi whimpered but didn't enter. She started in and backed out. My bathroom is small and apparently, my dog is claustrophobic. So I was on my own.

The rat started looking around for an avenue of escape and I couldn't just jump up and shut the door. Let's just say it wasn't possible for me to stand up and leave at the moment. So, I grabed the plunger sitting beside the toilet, thinking I could cover the rat long enough to finish my business and pull up my pants. But the rat was so big, it wouldn't fit under the plunger. It's head and tail stuck out. So, there I sat, pants around my ankles, holding a rat hostage under a toilet plunger.

Not my finest moment.

But the rat had to die. So I raised the plunger and started beating it to death. Not a noble or quick death, but I can assure you, at that particular moment, I didn't care.

As soon as the rat stopped twitching, I pulled up my pants, washed my hands, and ran to the kitchen for the broom and dust pan. Once I tossed out the rat, I tossed out the cat. I closed off the doggie door and left the cat outside until the next day. But did Cha Cha learn his lesson? Oh no.

A couple of months went by without him bringing anything into the house. He was actually sort of sweet. But then he brought in a live bird with a long beak. He set it free in Lauren's room. Now, she wasn't happy.

I tried catching the bird with my hands the way I did the wren, but the bird tried to peck my eyes out! And it wouldn't just fly out the window either. So, I got a broom and knocked the bird off the ceiling fan and into the trashcan. Then I threw a blanket over the trashcan and tossed the bird out the window. Lauren yelled at the cat and he immediately started snuggling her. And she forgave him. I still haven't.

He's been good lately. He hasn't brought in any live animals, but he's still hunting. He seems to think the foam noodles we use in the pool are prey. He attacks them, bites them, shreds them, and drags them in through the doggie door. We find them all over the house, along with a trail of pink, blue and purple chunks of foam. 

But hey, it could be worse. He could be bringing snakes in. Right? Instead, he cornered a groundhog in my basement stairwell. I didn't try to pick this critter up. I snapped his picture to prove what a menace the cat is and chased the ground hog up the steps with a broom.

Cha Cha stretched out on the kitchen counter, where he knows he isn't supposed to be, and laughed at me.


  1. My husband adapted a stray cat - it looked like a Russian Blue. When it was first adapting to being an indoor cat, we got a dead bird on the welcome mat at the door. I hope the cat was trying to be nice, but well my husband had to deal with the carcass and bugs.*shudder*

    I never bonded with the cat. I'm a dog person. The cat died about 4 years ago. We think it was some type of cancer. Now we have Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She is very calm, very cuddly, and has adopted to tolerating the family members quirks. (My oldest wants to be licked...the youngest won't stand for being sniffed or licked.)

  2. LOL!!! Loved the blog, Gayle! This is the second really good laugh I've had today. (For the first one, check out my FB profile. Trust me, you won't be sorry.) Anyway, your story brought back lots of memories of our cat of twelve years. Thank goodness we didn't have a doggie door, because she was a good hunter. Several times a week I would find "presents" on my front porch right in front of the door. Most of the time they were critter guts and pieces. Yuck. Many a time my son had to save a cute little chipmunk from the jaws of death. No more cats for me. We're pet free for the moment and totally enjoying it.

  3. LOL!!! Absolutely hilarious Gayle!! Cha Cha sounds like a trip!


  4. Beth, I'm def a dog person now, lol! Diane, love the Bill Cosby clip on your facebook profile. Too funny! And yes, Lyn, Cha Cha IS a trip!

  5. Bahahaha! Your house is a zoo! I can relate to a bird getting into the house but because my husband let it in. I hung a Christmas wreath on the front door and when he came home late one night, he noticed a bird sitting on the wreath. Thinking it was part of the wreath's decorative theme, he opened the door without another thought. Until the damn bird took flight and settled on the plant shelf in my living room. So what does this manly man do to get rid of an itty-bitty birdy? He wakes up his 8 months pregnant wife. I climbed every piece of furniture that night to swat that poor thing with a broom. It took us almost an hour to get that ball of feathers to go out the front door. Thank goodness that's the only time I've had to deal with that!
    Cha cha would be a statue on my plant shelf by now! You are a better woman than I! Bahahaha!

  6. Andris, you make me laugh. And to be honest, I'm really starting to hate this cat. The unreformed beast is still at it! I had to post a follow up blog within minutes of launching this one!

  7. My cats bring in birds, wabbits, lizzards - minus the tail, frogs and snakes. Can you say Bleh!
    I don't understand why they can't drag in a cabanna hunk or two.

  8. Gayle, Your animal blog should be turned into a full blown book. It would put "That Darned Cat" to shame. Can't stop laughing.

  9. Kitty, too funny! And thanks "Anonymous!" Maybe one day I'll write a book and call it "That Devil Kitty." lol!

  10. Really enjoyed your blog post. I have 4 cats, 1 canary, & some fish.
    Sue B

  11. I guess the 4 cats explains the username. lol! Hope your cats are calmer than Cha Cha. Thank goodness, he's been a real sweetie today. I'm waiting for the other shoe...or drop. lol!

  12. Hello Lilly!It sounds like Cha Cha is the sweetest and most romantic cat in the whole world. This behavior indicates affection. Cats take their preys to their mates or their kittens to hunt and eat. Thats what a cat is to the bone, a perfect hunter, thats what it is fun and the purpose for them. Cha Cha thinks you are his family and he loves you so much that he is bringing live "yummy gifts" so that you have the "joy" of killing it and eating it yourself. Its the ultimate gift that a cat can give to another cat or an owner. I own 2 female cats Silvie and Yasmin, they are my precious gifts. They're living in the house so no "romantic dinners" for Again your cat is perfect and you should appreciate it no matter how annoying the gesture is. He is a sweetie!

  13. Anon,
    Cha Cha is a hard cat to hate. I try. I really try. But then he curls up beside me and nuzzles me when I'm bone tired and I find myself thinking he really is a sweety. Such a good boy. Then, the next day, he brings me a live bird. Sigh...