Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Confused Cat

Was she a cat or a dog? Some days, I didn’t know.

Some days, I don’t even think SHE knew.

Yes, some cats can be trained to fetch toys. As the natural hunters they are, their instincts urge them on, often resulting in gifts brought to their owners.

Some ‘gift’ when you come home to find a dead snake or bird on your living room floor.

But Snickers was a bit confused. As an indoor kitty, and much-loved at that, maybe her strong hunting instincts were smothered; her sense of who she was, blurred. Since she couldn’t hunt outside, her inner hunter/retriever found ways to act on these ‘feelings,’ various prey within the house falling victim to this cat/dog.

And she had a few favourites; one of them, drinking straws. We had to stop using them.

As you would walk through the house carrying a drink, a pair of calculating eyes would be trained solely on the straw. At first, the sound of your glass toppling over if you left the room was testament to what happened. Eventually, though, she perfected her skill. No sooner would you get comfy on the couch when the ‘ferocious’ feline would stalk your drink. Delicately tilting her head to one side, she would grasp the straw with her teeth, and gingerly pull it out of the glass – without knocking the whole thing over.

With her prize in her mouth, she would skulk away with an air of pride and entitlement, her possessive growl vibrating through your still-standing glass. The grand finale was her feeble attempt at posing her hefty Tabby body like the Great Sphinx of Giza, with the straw cradled between her paws.

And then look at you.

Were we supposed pat her on the head and say “Good kitty…er…dog”? I am sure if she were allowed, she would have buried it in the backyard, then demand dog food.

But it wasn’t the straws that had us in a twist.

Over time, socializing and entertaining with other adults all but faded away with our busy lives of kids, jobs, and the never-ending antics of our three cats. But maybe we should have looked further into why we didn’t socialize anymore.

Because coming home after work, occasionally with a friend or co-worker for dinner, and finding certain ‘prizes’ on the floor – in plain view before I could scramble to pick them up - would have anyone second-guessing their choice in friendships.

In the middle of the living room floor, or in the foyer of the front door where no one was sure to miss it, would be either a pair of my husband’s socks, or better, his underwear. Wool socks and white underwear seemed to be the best choice.

The ever-increasing scratches on the front of my husband’s dresser drawer were telling, and out of the three cats, we knew Snickers was the culprit. But how did she do it?

We caught her in the act one day and watched the process in awe. Up the side of the dresser she would climb, using each drawer’s edge as a step, until she reached the sock/underwear drawer at the top. With her back legs as leverage on the drawer below, she would wedge her front claws into the top of the closed underwear drawer, and pull.

Dangling by her front legs, and clawing her back legs at the drawer for purchase, she would hoist herself up into the drawer. After rooting around she would emerge with her so-called kill clamped in her mouth and jump down, leaving a drawer looking as though ransacked by a burglar in her wake.

Even though we were right in front of her, down the stairs she would stealthily creep, the socks or underwear in her mouth muffling her trademark deep-throated ‘kill’ growl. Once in the living room, her growling at its peak, she would drop her kill, lie on it, and then – silence.

Mission accomplished, and after lying on it for an unspecified amount of time, she would simply get up and walk away, her great prize forgotten. She wouldn’t play with it like ‘normal’ cats. We never figured out what made her pick one over the other. What made it a sock day? What made it an underwear day? And it didn’t matter whether we were home or not – her fetish had no scheduled time. With a small house, everything could be heard floor to floor. So when a drawer was being opened, we knew what would come next.

Like the straw, we knew we should do something. Knowing we needed to acknowledge her feat, we submitted, uttering assurances of ‘good kitty.’ What else could we do?

What was to be learned from the piles of underwear and socks on the living floor? We can be whoever we want to be, break free from barriers, restrictions and labels, and do what comes most naturally to us.

Saying that, I don’t intend on carrying around underwear and socks in my mouth anytime soon.

Snickers is no longer with us, but her memory lives on through the remaining scratches on my husband’s dresser drawers. And although I can finally stock straws in my house and use them, no less, I still sometimes hesitate, and reflect.

Many say that cats are ‘easier’ than dogs. True or not, I wonder; did I really have a dog all along?


  1. Aw! Great story, Lisa! With a good message. As one who as actually seen those scratches on the drawer and one who has also seen just how big and heavy those drawers are, I can fully appreciate the effort that Snickers put in to be the cat (or dog) she wanted to be! I really need to learn from that ambition! Jx

  2. Every creature that we love, leaves its mark in our lives -- sometimes literally. :-)

  3. Thank you, Janelle. As annoying as those scratches are on the dresser, they serve as a fond memory of an 'interesting' cat. Thank you for reading....Lisa

  4. Alice, you are so right...she left us with memories that are STILL shared with my kids. Thank you for reading. Lisa