My Father's Daughter

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Mousecapades (or The Mouse v. Heather, or Why I Wish My Husband Wasn’t On The Road)

Saturday night our male cat, Mason, emphatically demanded to be let back into the house. As he zipped past me I didn’t notice that he had something in his mouth. He was across the main floor and into the front entryway before I saw it — a mouse. Initially I thought it was dead and he was bringing it in to display his hunting prowess (boys are such braggarts). But when he put it down it squeaked and ran away. Dead mice don’t do that. Before I knew it, I was standing on my couch, my back against the wall. I should mention that Phil was on the road. I was alone. With the romping cat and his tiny prey.

Relevant background: My dear mother and dear sister are TERRIFIED of mice. I was in the kitchen with these strong women one day in my childhood when a squeak sent them into the hallway — literally dragging me with them. Turns out it was the new-to-us fridge we had just gotten, but before they accepted that answer they sent me – young, defenseless, little ole’ me – back into the kitchen to lift a garbage bag in the corner to ensure no rodents lurked beneath it. I have tried not to be so held by this same fear with only minimal success. I’m not as sensitive as my familial female examples are, but one thought of little feet crawling on me and I can get a good jolt of the willies too (in my defense I’ve tried to conquer this fear – I once tried to empty a mouse trap at my parents house but it freaked me right out).

Back to my exciting Saturday night (see, this is why you shouldn’t be home alone on a Saturday night – bad things happen). I was now faced with two options – rid my house of a live mouse (eek) or wait until my cat killed the cute little thing and then remove a dead mouse from my house (eww). Problems with option one were: I didn’t know how to capture a live mouse, I didn’t want to touch a live mouse, I didn’t want to be touched by a live mouse. Problems with option two were: I didn’t know if Mason would ever get around to killing it, I didn’t want to touch a dead mouse, I didn’t want it to die somewhere beyond my reach and/or sight. Then the mouse disappeared. Mason couldn’t find it. Now I had a mouse loose in my house (this story would be so much more dramatic if mouse and house didn’t rhyme in such a Seussian way). So, I did what any rationale grown woman home alone with a rodent running amok in her home would do – I called my Daddy. He suggested, quite calmly and unsympathetically, I thought, that I scoop the mouse up in the dustpan. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

While I was on the phone with my brilliant but bewildered-by-feminine-fear Father the mouse re-emerged and the chase was on again. Then he/she disappeared again. While our quarry was safely hidden I actually worked up the nerve to get off the couch and go into the entryway. Thankfully I’d been puttering about the house in clogs and they were with me – can you imagine barefeet or sandals in such a scenario – shudder! When the mouse came back out for more, I was ready – dustpan in hand, door slightly open. Mason and I cornered the poor thing and I was able to scoop it up. Now I had to get it out the door. Here is where it got a bit dicey – the mouse started crawling up the handle toward my hand. Thankfully I was able to reposition and keep a hold of the dustpan and keep the mouse IN the dustpan and get them both out the door (with only the very minimum of girlish squeals). My adventures were over. I had defeated the mouse. And maybe a little bit of fear.

My mother, sister and a female co-worker have all stated that they would not be able to do what I did. So I guess I am encouraged that my fear isn’t SO great as to be completely immobilizing. And I guess it is kind of interesting to experience that kind of fear – it is so visceral. I really don’t like being scared (HATE scary movies), but on the other hand, if I’m going to experience fear, I’d rather it be at the cold, icky little paws of an itty-bitty mouse than a number of other scenarios I can imagine (great, now I’m going to be paranoid about being home alone without Phil – mouse-catcher and defender).

My only big question about all of this is: How was Mason able to meow at the door if he had a mouse in his mouth?



Feeding the cats

Every morning I feed my cats a generous spoonful of canned cat food. They have dry food throughout the day and they aren’t starving, but the canned, “wet” food is treated with a certain glee. Usually around 4:00 or 4:30am, Mason gets restless and wanders around meowing for his daily treat. When I finally give in because I have to pee anyway, or Phil’s alarm has gone off and I’m up for the day anyway, the kittens run to the kitchen. When I open the fridge to retrieve a can they both try to climb in and I have to push them out with my foot (while accusing them of trying to be “cool cats”). I can’t seem to get it through their little heads (cats being deaf to any and all reason) that getting into the fridge is counterproductive to their ultimate goal – the food. I don’t know if they are convinced there must be something better in the fridge, if they are momentarily distracted (“oh, look, shelves to climb on”), or if they think that it would be more expedient to climb to the top shelf and rip into the can themselves. Once I’ve fed them, they attack their food like Survivors who’ve won an elaborate meal in this weeks Thursday night challenge. But, then, EVERY MORNING, Mason doesn’t finish his bowl. He seems to be content to have a few bites and then he walks away (Annie, on the other hand, will sometimes eat so much so fast that she throws up).

Now, before you judge my cats too harshly, has there ever been a time where you got in your own way? Have you ever derailed, or held up your ultimate goal because you thought you saw something better, or you were distracted (“oh, look, something shiny”), or you thought you knew a faster way? Or, have you ever gotten what you wanted and then realized it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and not finished it? Cats behave out of instinct — they have no other motives, they are incapable of understanding consequences, they don’t categorize behaviour as “good” or “bad”. What’s your excuse?

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New things

Big changes in the McGrath household — in fact the house isn’t even the same. Phil and I moved into a new apartment this past weekend, AND got a new kitten. It was a busy weekend, and is busy still. But such a good busy. I like having a lot to do otherwise I do nothing at all. I’m a bit of an all or nothing kind of gal. I think we are going to really like our new place. I just love it! It’s the upper floor of an old, old house and it has (as my Mom said) a lot of character. Of course I’m going to want to paint and I’m very impatient to get everything done and bee-yoo-ti-ful.

Our kitten is a hoot. He’s very playful and fun — and whiney. His name is Mason (after Bill Mason). We are enjoying him and he seems to like his new place and family. Here’s the pic of him that was on the Cambridge Humane Sociey Website:

That’s all — just an update on life!

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Not another cat blog!

I remember the days when I scoffed at those who went on and on about their pets, who put up pictures of them — IN FRAMES, who thought their pet, and their pet alone, was the cat’s meow (ouch, waaay too obvious). Now I tell Keillor stories… If I ever have kids I may find out that I don’t know everything about raising them either….

This morning at 5:00 a.m., after he’d pushed Keillor off my chest for the third time, Phil mumbled, “Needy”. My response was, “Everyone is needy, she’s just cat enough to admit it”. Now isn’t that profound?

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Why I’m up at 5:00 a.m.

My cat loves to cuddle – and like all cats, she prefers to do things on her time-schedule, thank you very much, and not that of a humans. So somewhere around 4:00 in the morning, my amorous cat lets me know of her intentions by purring loudly, while standing on top of me, and licking my face. You try to sleep with a 20lb cat standing on your chest, licking your lips.

Quite often after we’ve “cuddled” I can’t get back to sleep (residual guilt over kissing a cat?). Then my mind turns. Sometimes I worry, but more often I write things in my head, or come up with ideas, usually of a creative (and totally useless) nature. I’m brilliant at 4:30 a.m. Of course, most things, on examination in the light aren’t really that brilliant at all. (My philosophical mind that thinks in metaphor, would draw some comparison to spiritual darkness and light here, but it’s just too early for that kind of silly talk.)

So this is why I’m up to greet the day, though I will be waiting for a long time for it to reciprocate, and why I’ll, again, be falling asleep on the couch at 9:00 tonight.


Keillor’s troubles

Our cat Keillor (yep, it’s official, Phil signed the adoption papers just last week, and Keillor has even chosen to take Phil’s last name) had a disturbing trip to the vet yesterday. She’s been having some problems over the past week (let’s just say you wouldn’t want her to sit on your lap after she’s been to the litter box…). We were worried because in addition to having a perpetually dirty bum she was behaving strangely. I was already having visions of sending her off to Steve’s Clinic for Pet Euthanasia. Thankfully, she merely has an infection because she is (as the vet put it), “not agile enough” to clean herself properly. Translation, she is too chubby to reach her bum (I feel better now about the fact that she licks me…)

To correct this problem Keillor has antiobiotics to take, which Phil has successfully been administering (in addition to being a very good house husband, he’s now becoming a very wonderful pet nurse). The vet shaved her bottom (she’s very embarrassed about it, don’t tease her), and we will now have to clean her butt everyday ourselves. Yep, we have to wipe our cat’s bum for her. We bought baby wipes yesterday.

Get well soon cards can be sent to Keillor McGrath c/o Phil and Heather, 5A-69 Brooklyne Road, Cambridge, ON N1R 1C6.