The Cat

Friend to skunks, a terror to dogs

The cat. I was photographing food in studio, the cat jumped up on the stool and wanted to pose. Always wanting to get into the act. She has no shame about her utter lack of grooming.

The cat is twelve years old now. We adopted her as a feral kitten-of-the-streets back in 2005, in Decatur, Georgia, and gradually trained her not to be terrified of us. We knew it would be a longish period of adjustment, because cats are relatively smooth-brained. Unlike humans and other animals whose brains have lots of folds in them, enabling more complex cognitive activities, cats’ brains are just lightly-folded and their “thinking,” as a result, is a chaotic grab-bag of multiple neuronic firings that ultimately amount to near nothing. All cat owners know this.

The cat, at about 8 weeks, Decatur. She finally could bond with me without tearing flesh out of my hand.

That’s our cat. She slowly got used to the idea of having a name, and on rare occasions would actually respond to it and come to you. We initially believed she was part Maine coon, because of her enormous fluffy tail, but now are fairly convinced she’s mostly Norwegian Forest cat. Either way, she’s an indoor-outdoor cat and a first-rate mouser who loves to eat grass so she can produce record-breaking hairballs.

Me: Your cat just  launched a hairball the size of a hot dog bun onto the rug.

My wife: Can you just throw it out?

Me: I’ll get to it in a little bit.

We always use the term “your cat” when her behavior goes astray, or when she produces something on the floor that eventually must be cleaned up.

Fang display: She yawns and displays her fangs not because she is tired but because she just wants to display her fangs.

4:20 AM. Something tromping on my legs. Tromping all around. Ass-end in my face, a tail swipe across the cheek. And then a paw-swipe at my face – my first ever paw-swipe. Well, we must be buds by now. But she’s two hours early…

The cat lives in a wide-open house, all doors always open, including our bedroom door. She comes and goes, wants a pre-sleep rub and chin-stroke, gets them and then cruises off to explore the house, upstairs and downstairs. The house is one very large room with a couple of separate rooms, scatter-rugs everywhere that the cat can race across and rumple up. The spiral staircase going to the loft is a blast, of course, because it’s part cat-tree and part staircase, and she can do all 12 steps in about 2 seconds.

This mouse, resting atop a rake handle, has no chance.



The dog problem…

The cat has no use for dogs. Rarely, she’ll just abide their presence, but almost always, she’ll attack with every weapon she has and tear their faces to shreds. One day, my daughter made the strategic error of bringing her own rescue pet, a large and very nervous pit bull, to the back door – a door that’s all glass. The cat saw him, screamed and howled and hissed and hurtled herself at the door with such force I feared she’d crack the glass. The dog, trembling with timidity, retreated and ended up secure in my daughter’s car for the duration.

The skunk thing…

In some ways, the cat resembles a skunk: black and white, low to the ground, furry. She sits on the back stoop as Mama skunk with five little skunklings in tow waddle by, headed for their nesting place under the floor of the garden shed nearby. If any thought cruises through her brain, it is this: Hey, they’re like family! My kin!

By design or accident, the cat often finds herself outside at night in summer, with the house closed up, and on one recent night she apparently decided to join “her family” under the shed. I think many of us have seen photos and videos of cats and skunks snuggling up and playing together, and this night was no different. They didn’t spray her, but they’d recently sprayed something, and so they stank. The cat didn’t care – she snuggled anyway. And stank the next morning. Fortunately, my wife found a de-stinking solution online of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, soaked her cat-grooming brush in it, and gave her cat a thorough wiping and cleansing with the brush. Phew. Then “Whew!”

… and deer

The cat knows she’s met her match with large ungulates like deer. They’ll just stare at each other before one of them hightails it…

Oh, her name is Luna. It migrates readily to Loonie, Lulu, or just Lu. It’s fine that she’s her own best role model, a legend in her own mind, because when she’s not teasing you or wanting a nip out of your arm she’s good company and happy to be with us.

End of cat stories.


Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.