Two cats

We like to catch Dusty in odd poses. Here he’s doing the classic “raise your back leg if you want to ask a question”:

Here he is again doing the magician’s “cut the cat in two” trick:

But enough about Dusty. What about the new cat? Well, the new cat is named Mollie, at least for now, and only to the two humans in the house.

Mollie seems to be completely oblivious to her name, as well as apparently to any attempt to get her attention. It’s odd. She likes to be petted, and she isn’t afraid of people approaching her (or of vacuum cleaners, or dogs). But she won’t come when called, and most of the time she doesn’t even glance in our direction if we call her, or make some other cat attracting noise. She keeps to herself most of the time, except when she wants to be fed. She is obviously a house cat because she can’t seem to figure out that she can relieve herself outside.

She has an unusual call. It sounds kind of like “mirp”. She also makes other strange noises. Here she is watching hummingbirds on the feeder hanging from the porch, which we can see out the front window. I hope everyone can view it and hear the noise.

Yes, that odd sound was actually her.

On Tuesday she goes to the vet to get fixed. Fortunately, we won’t have any trouble getting her into her carrier. She walks right in.

Like all cats, she likes to climb up onto things, including dog food containers.

She has found a way to get behind the bathroom vanity drawers. She wants to follow us into the bathroom, probably because we have hands and can open the drawers more easily. She also loves getting between the two shower curtains while Leah is taking a shower.

Maybe she’ll warm to us, if she can ever forgive us for the upcoming surgery. Leah says she acts like she’s eating for more than just herself, but we hope there are no baby kitties inside there.

Cat take two

The little tortoise-shell cat we found outside the garage last week seems to be at home here.

She spends a lot of the day sleeping, and much of the night. Before we go to bed she usually runs laps around the house. After all the lights are off, she settles down until some time between 3 am and 6:30 am (that’s earlier than we like to get up, being retired and all). At that time she eats what cat food has been left out for her, relieves herself in a litter box, and jumps on the bed and stares at Leah to ask her to get up and feed her some more.

She likes cat toys. Like most cats, she ends up batting them so far under something that she can’t quite reach, like a refrigerator.

We don’t want to have a litter box in the house, but we also don’t want her to wander off and get lost. Leah has been taking her out occasionally to let her wander and investigate, and, we hope, relieve herself. So far she does the wandering part OK, but not the relieving part. We wonder whether she was a house cat in her previous life. She doesn’t seem to know that she can actually do her business outside.

This cat, whose name has evolved to Molly right now, is very much like the cat Leah has been wanting for years, except she’s not Siamese, Leah’s favorite. She is friendly, likes to be petted, and doesn’t startle and run away like all of our other cats. Leah says she’s sweet and precious. She doesn’t spend a lot of time sitting with us, but has climbed up on the sofa and sat in my lap at least once. She also sometimes ends up sleeping between us in the morning.

We took her to the vet last week. The vet thinks she is around three years old, much older than we thought. She certainly acts like a kitten and she’s even smaller than Chloe, who we used to think was a small cat. She and Chloe do not get along. She also doesn’t like Sylvester much. She’s OK with Smokey. She’s great with the dogs, and the dogs seem OK with her.

We posted on a local Facebook group asking whether anyone knew anything about her. One person said she found an almost identical tortoise-shell kitten at the base of the mountain within a few days of when we found Molly. We were thinking maybe they were litter mates, but if Molly is as old as the vet thinks, that can’t be the case. Next, we thought maybe Molly was the mother, but the vet says Molly has not had a litter recently, so that pretty much rules that out, too. In any case, Molly is scheduled for an appointment at the vet’s next week, after which she shouldn’t be bringing any new kitties into the world.

Cats and birds

We were beginning to worry a little about the cat we found on Monday. She apparently had not relieved herself since we found her, even though we took her out and put her down into the flower bed, where there is a nice layer of mulch for a cat toilet. We were worried about leaving her in the house alone for several hours on Wednesday (potential explosive situation), while we out having our regular huevos rancheros and making a grocery run, so before lunch I went and bought a cat litter box.

We set it up in the hall, because we really don’t have a suitable place for a litter box, and she almost immediately went in took care of pending business. There are two bad things about this development. The first is that we don’t want an inside cat that uses a litter box. The second is that she passed something that looked like bright, red blood. Our vet has been closed since Saturday and will reopen on Thursday. We’re taking her in then.

Here she is relaxing on the leather recliner in the living room.

Not long after this adorable shot, she turned around and clawed the chair’s arm, leaving four or five punctures in it. This does not make us happy.

On a cat-related note, a few weeks ago we noticed what looked like an aborted bird nest about three feet off the ground in one of the crape myrtles we planted beside the house. Looks were deceiving. This is what I found when I looked into the nest on Tuesday.

I think there are three baby mockingbirds, being very quiet. The mother was perched in a tree some distance away, looking like a concerned parent.

I looked in the nest because I had seen the mockingbird flying around in the vicinity, although never lighting in the crape myrtle itself.

This is obviously a problem location for baby birds. I don’t think any of our cats have located the nest yet, but as soon as the birds fledge, they will end up on the ground with a limited ability to fly. At that point, a cat, most likely Sylvester, will kill them.

I wish I had destroyed the nest when I first noticed it, before the mockingbird had a chance to lay her eggs.

The Fifth Cat

When I went out into the driveway to take the dogs out Monday morning, I heard a sound somewhere between a cat and a bird coming from under our car. I called Leah, and this is what she found.

It’s a small, female tortoise-shell cat. Here she is, reaching out to the photographer.

She was enthusiastically friendly and reasonably accepting of being picked up and held. She was vocal, and couldn’t get enough affection. Leah eventually brought her in. At first she was ill at ease, but within short time she seemed to make herself at home.

The dogs were very interested, in fact, a little too interested. Sam has a strong prey drive, so we weren’t comfortable with how intently he stared at her. Zeke whined and wanted to check her out. Sam wanted to sniff her all over. But even with two dogs towering over her, she didn’t seem afraid.

We had no intention of keeping the cat, despite how friendly she seemed compared to our other cats. Leah called a neighbor who we knew had cats, and they were interested in seeing her since they had only recently had to put their cat down.

We kept the cat inside for a while, and then let her out into the garage. When the neighbors drove up, she was nowhere to be found. We called, but no cat.

We talked with the neighbors for a while, but eventually they had to leave without the cat. As soon as they left, the cat walked out from wherever she had been hiding in the garage.

And that was OK with Leah. Leah had been saying for a while that maybe she would keep the cat, and both she and the neighbors took it as a sign.

We kept her inside for a while but put her back out into the garage when we left to get something to eat. We weren’t sure whether she was house trained, so we thought she would better in the garage.

She was gone when we got back home. Leah was devastated. She called and called, but there was no sign of the cat. We suspected (fairly strongly) that the bad boys, Sylvester and Smokey, had chased her away. We also considered the possibility that some time earlier she had found a place to sleep and had gone back there for the night.

Of course Leah didn’t give up. It was after 9 when she went out for the last time and called. She had given up and come back towards the garage when the little cat came running up the driveway.

She really doesn’t like Smokey or Sylvester, based on how much hissing goes on when they’re around, but she doesn’t mind the dogs. It appears that she hasn’t met Chloe or Dusty yet. We have no idea how they will interact.

Here she is on the back of the sofa, checking Sam out.

Here she is making herself at home.

There is always the chance that this little cat will disappear if she goes out, but otherwise it looks like we may have our fifth cat (seventh if you count the two we have lost, Zoe and Rusty, since moving up here). She has found our bed and seems to like lying on it. Leah has been wishing for a cat that would sleep on our bed with us. Maybe she’s the one.

Rain watch

I have mentioned before that a fair number of trees in the woods around here died between last summer and this spring. The forest doesn’t look healthy. A lot of trees of all species on the mountain either never came back in the spring or barely made it out of the winter alive. Even the trees that seem less affected by the heat and drought of last summer don’t seem to have leafed out as much as in a normal year, at least to my uneducated eye.

Some trees are trying. A few pines whose needles all turned brown have come back in part. Some of the trees whose limbs never leafed out have sprouted tight bunches of leaves along their trunks. I suspect many of them will never fully recover and will eventually die, especially if we have another summer like 2016.

One of the hardest hit of species is the dogwood. As far as I could tell earlier this spring, we had only one or two dogwoods that seemed to have survived in reasonably good condition. This is one that grew just inside the woods next to our driveway.

Some vines have grown up into the crown, which makes it look like it still has leaves, but the only leaves on this tree are dead. But this is what I noticed at the base of the tree on Wednesday.

It’s coming back from the roots. It looks pretty good at this point.

Here’s a maple that lost about half of its multiple trunks.

And here’s its base.

I don’t know whether the dogwoods or maples will manage to survive, despite these signs of their struggle to live.

This die-off may be a normal cycle in the northwestern Georgia forest, but I worry.

I also worry about our front yard. I finally got the zoysia seed sown. I filled the ruts and depressions as well as I could, then spread about two inches of rich topsoil. Then I raked it as level as I could, which was not very level. Then I rolled it. Every place I stepped ended up with a deep footprint. I could and probably should have tried harder to get the lawn smooth, but I was racing what I thought was a nice downpour that never materialized.

Now all we have to do is make sure the seed doesn’t get too dry. I have watered lightly – very lightly – twice so far. Our well doesn’t produce at a very high rate, so I am being conservative when I water. I am sprinkling about a third of the lawn at a time, then waiting a few hours before doing the next third. Here you can see the middle third is slightly darker than the ground on either side, a result of watering just a short while before I took the picture.

As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, there is a wide area of rain heading from the southwest up towards us. Based on our history here, I won’t be surprised if we get little or nothing from this system.