18 November 2007
Life with the catchildren
People sometimes ask casually how many cats we have. When I say eight, a few nod understandingly, while others come to a complete halt and look aghast at me.
"EIGHT CATS! WHAT ARE YOU, A CRAZY CAT-LADY???"
Uh, no....my longsuffering spouse is just as addicted to feline friends as I am.
To explain...when he met me, I had twelve cats, which shortly grew to 18 when the only unspayed female in the herd produced her third set of kittens in less than 9 months; as soon as I could after that, I got her spayed, and started finding homes for some of the herd. That was nine years ago, and while we've had a few come and go, lost a few to illness or misadventure since then, we have been stable at a minimum of eight. All neutered and needled, most of them rescues of one sort or another.
We spend a great deal of time with the cat-children, and they respond accordingly by wanting to help out as much as possible around the house. They like to do laundry, preventing it from leaping down off the table to get dirty on the floor.
Simon Q loves to help me read the morning paper. He devours some sections.
He also is very helpful when it comes to doing the dishes.
The cat-children are sometimes bad. Just a little bit. They do get up on every possible surface, from the top of the refrigerator to the top of doors to the counter--but this end of the counter is 'theirs'. They know where their can of kitty-treats lives, and they spend a great deal of time coaxing my better half into giving them treats at any possible time.
Of course, if that doesn't work, they'll try to get the can down themselves.
This is Mungus, chief instigator of just about anything that goes on in our house. He's one of the smartest cats I've ever seen, and definitely a strong personality. A couple of years ago I walked into the no-kill cat shelter at our veterinary's office, just for a look. I spied Mungus, he spied me, and he proceeded to ham it up tremendously for my benefit. My better half LOVES polydactyl cats, and I knew he'd love this cat, who promptly became Mungus (or Hugh E. Mungus Huntley, when he's naughty.)
He is the original hamcat, posing for the camera, but also to distract his parents from something naughty he might have done, like bugging Thistle.
Having extra thumbs is handy when you're a cat determined to get into something. He pushes this can on the floor if it's left within his reach, and opens cupboard doors. So far, he has yet to learn to open the doors of the house--so far.
Because he's so beloved and loves to go outside, we taught him to go on a harness--which he accepted and learned to walk along on in about fifteen minutes. He's insatiably curious, and though he wanted to make friends with JennyManyLumps, the world's stupidest donkey...she thought he might be a coyote.
Mungus loves to play; he's a giant kitten, although we think he's going to be about 4 in February, three years after we got him. When Nibs first had his back leg amputated, Mungus, like the others, was very gentle with him, but now they play a lot. Sometimes, though, it's just nice to sit in a sunny window and wash each other.
Other times, it's necessary to play...even when Tigger is not interested in playing. Mungus may have the biggest paddypaws in the household, but Tigger is the undisputed champion for having the fastest feet!
The nicest thing about Mungus is his friendliness. He LOVES people, (being a handsome and clever hamcat, he must appreciate his fans) and where some of the others are skittish around small people, he's just great with my better half's youngest granddaughter. And she obviously thinks he's just great too!