Cat heaven, part 2

On Friday Leah and I visited our pet sitters Hannah and John again. This time it was ostensibly to give them a spare fall wreath for their door. The real reason was for Leah to see their cats again.

One of the cats is actually a dog. Can you tell which one?

Leah loves these cats, and I know why.

This was the second time we visited Hannah and John’s cats. I blogged about the first time back in February.

At least one of the cats like the wreath.

This is Oreo. He was ready to settle in for a wreath nap.

These cats are extraordinarily friendly, or at least “extraordinarily” compared to our cats. Of our cats, Smokey is the closest in behavior to Hannah and John’s cats. Smokey loves to be petted and pretty much doesn’t care what you do to him (like combing out tangles), but he absolutely does not want to be picked up. Hannah and John’s cats don’t care.

Leah has had cats like these before. Maybe one day she can get another.

Stray cats

Two new stray cats have shown up on the mountain. This time they are staying mostly up at a neighbor’s house across the road from our old house. An orange cat showed up a few months ago. Our neighbor Ann started feeding it (along with foxes and deer). A few weeks ago another cat showed up. This one is a gray tabby with a bob tail. Both are very skittish. Ann says both run away if she comes towards them.

Our little problem cat Sylvester disappeared for three or four days a couple of weeks ago, before the gray cat showed up. Ann said he was up at her house. Leah eventually found him between Ann’s house and her next-door neighbor’s house. She brought him home, and he seemed to settle back into whatever kind of routine he has.

This is the gray cat on our front porch.

This is a terrible phone photo taken at night through the glass of the storm door. This cat looks a lot like Chloe, down to white socks but this one’s socks are longer, more like knee length rather than lower calf like Chloe’s. The odd boxes are foam insulation panels we put around the front porch cat houses to shield the opening from wind and rain.

We don’t know whether the new cats are male or female, but I am beginning to suspect that at least the gray cat is male because Sylvester has started spraying. I saw Smokey and the gray cat in a feline standoff in our driveway Tuesday evening. When the gray cat ran away (white socks flashing as he retreated), Sylvester came up and sprayed where the cat had been. We saw Sylvester spraying Ann’s neighbor’s shrubs Wednesday night when we went looking for him.

This is not a good development. We had problems with Sylvester spraying in the house last year. Our vet diagnosed a urinary problem. This time I’m afraid it’s a sociological problem. He has shown some signs recently of discomfort, which may be a reoccurrence of the urinary problem or something unrelated. Whatever it might be, I hope it doesn’t extend into the house.

The Mysterious Basement

Smokey and Chloe have discovered the basement door. We don’t really know why they are so interested, but they are. I have observed that if there is a door with a cat on one side, that cat wants to get to the other side, and so it is with the basement door. They passed the door many times before it became such an attraction. They must have seen me going down one day and realized that it was a door to a mysterious place that was not on the same side of the door as they were.

Here’s Smokey considering.

The brown thing at the bottom of the door is there to keep drafts from blowing under the door.

The door does not open, so Smokey tries to open it himself.

A while back Leah said we should let him go down into the basement, and I couldn’t see any reason not to. So we started letting him and Chloe go down there when they wanted.

Our basement is currently a confused jumble of furniture, tools, insulation packs and boxes with unknown contents. It’s hard to get around down there. Just the kind of place cats might like to explore.

I went down one day a week or so ago and found that at least one cat was doing more than exploring. Some cat whose name is probably Smokey decided that the basement was a bathroom.

So the cats have been banned from the basement. Now Smokey passes the door and looks longingly at the door handle, remembering better days.

Smokey knows that the door handle has something to do with a door opening. We use levers rather than knobs. In the old house Sylvester learned to open doors with levers. Back when Leah kept Smokey and Sylvester overnight in the room we used as an office, I had to change the door lever to a knob to keep him from escaping. We had a basement with two separate levels accessed through doors that faced each other at the bottom of the stairs. I had to bungee the levers together to keep him out.

At this point we are fortunate that Smokey has not learned the trick of opening doors, and that Sylvester has not recognized the basement door as something he might want to open.

Oh, so this is what cats are supposed to be like

Hannah and John, the couple who sat for our animals when we went to Asheville in December, invited us over to meet their cats. When we opened the door, Leah was in cat heaven. The cats didn’t run away and hide.

Well, one cat was already hiding, but they say she always hides during the day, and one cat was willing to be social but you had to come to her. But that left five cats who came out to greet us and get some petting.

Four are half-grown kittens and one is a huge adult male. These cats are so socialized that they let John pick them up and handle them like stuffed animals. He cradled one lying on its back in his arms. This is so unlike our cats that they almost seem like a different species. Not one of our cats, even Smokey, who loves to be petted, could be handled like that. The other three of ours would probably shred our arms if we tried to cradle one like John did.

Hannah and John were petsitting a chihuahua (They have had him for about a year — that’s a long petsit, but apparently he will soon go back to his owner.) He’s about the same size as the kittens. They get along pretty well.

I’m looking almost straight down here. The gray kitten has leapt right on top of the dog. They played for a while.

The big male didn’t play, but he wasn’t bothered by all the kitten business going on around him.

Leah enjoyed the visit so much that I had to drag her out by the arm. Almost. She really misses having a cat that acts like a pet. It’s much easier for me to understand cat people when I see cats that act like these did. I think I could get used to one of these.

I have encouraged her to get a real cat, but she doesn’t want to do it until our current crop moves on to greener pastures. That may be a while.

Dusty sleeps over

Leah has been wanting Dusty to come inside like Chloe, Sylvester and Smokey for a long time. She has brought him in occasionally but he cries so pitifully that Leah always lets him go back outside. Saturday night she decided to try again. This is where he ended up.


He spent most of the night there at the foot of the bed with his mama, on Leah’s side, of course. He got up very early and wanted out, but while he was inside, he seemed not exactly happy but at least not exactly frantic to get out. He didn’t wander too much before he settled down, and he didn’t cry. He wasn’t sure he wanted me in the same bed but didn’t object too much as long as I kept to my own side.

On Sunday night Leah brought him in again. This time he did not like it. He wandered around meowing and craning his neck like he was trying to see over a fence. He went to the front door and stared out, then wandered a little more, and then back to the door. Leah finally gave up and let him out.

It’s not too bad for him outside. We have four cat houses on the front porch, two with soft bedding, and two with heated pads. He stays in the unheated houses most of the time. It hasn’t been particularly cold this fall, so I think he can be comfortable there. Since he won’t get in the heated houses (he got used to the other houses before we got the heated ones), we’re going to put the heating pads in the other houses.

The wind has been very strong all day Monday ahead of a cold front and Dusty is nowhere to be found. He’s probably hiding in the woods because the wind scares him. The cold front is supposed to bring some fairly heavy rain later tonight. We’re hoping he gets back on the porch before the rain arrives.