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Another Day in the Country

It’s a cat’s tale!

© Another Day in the Country

I hear the marble hit the floor with a brittle click, then roll coolly across the tile. Skeeter is bored again. She’s in the equivalent of her owner’s stage of life retirement, and she has time on her hands. 

Her days are very predictable — one long, uninterrupted stretch of eating, sleeping, yawning and relieving herself. Sometimes she asks to be let out to stare through the glass windows on the back porch at the endless brown, or white, hopefully green, landscape. I know the feeling!

A marble game sits on an end table by the couch. Originally there were 32 marbles lined up on the board. Now there are nine. The rest have been purposefully rolled off onto the floor to provide a moment’s diversion, a short game, a fleeting memory of a hunt, the catch, a playful swat.

Let the prey think they have a chance at freedom, escape! And then there’s another pounce and a fur paw connects with glass and sets the marble skittering across the floor again. This game continues until the marble is exhausted and runs under the couch.

Skeeter feigns disinterest and retreats to her post on the back of the couch, where an indent has formed in the pillows by hours accommodating the weight and shape of her body. This is HER spot! Hers and hers alone! The lady of the house has decreed this by putting down a soft rug, “Here and nowhere else,” she admonishes, sternly, hoping — half believing — that the cat knows better than to trespass elsewhere.

But kitty has managed to claim several spots as her own, as cats will do. She has the rocker in the guest room, made enticing by a yellow throw. There’s a brown pillow in another room that mostly guests inhabit that sometimes gets used for ambiance in the living room. There’s a hideaway under the bed and a soft office chair in the art room that’s often available, made doubly enticing by an elevated cushion.

There is what her mistress calls the “California chair” in the front room. It has a small blanket tossed over the back for guest cats, mainly Tig, my sister’s pet, who comes over much too often, Skeeter thinks.

“I’ve never liked her,” Skeeter announces, with a twitch of her tail. “And she only comes when she wants something. She’s either cold, hungry, or lonely. And, she’s spelled trouble from the very start! What can you expect from a stray? I won’t tolerate it!”

Skeeter’s cat eyes are fiercely cold and dark. She jumps up on the visitor’s spot and rubs her scent languidly across it, kneading the fabric, and jumps down, disdainfully.

This cat knows she is getting older. She’s put on weight. Jess claims she waddles when she walks, which is a very disquieting notion.

“Don’t we all?” Skeeter purrs, because she truly loves Jess best and refuses to be offended by her jokes.

It took a while for her to adjust to a newfangled scientific diet a couple of years ago, but her health improved.

“What more could one ask?” Skeeter wonders, and admits it’s better than trips to the vet, which she abhors!

This food is for mature cats and has no enticing dyes, hard-to-digest filler, or fancy shapes.

“It’s okay,” Skeeter admits before asking to be let out on the back porch.

There’s a stray yellow tomcat that sniffs and sprays his way around our yard, and Skeeter looks carefully out the window to see whether he’s anywhere near. When she sees him, her whiskers twitch, her eyes are fierce, and a low growl emanates from her belly.

“How dare you,” the sound says. 

Sure enough, he’s there, at the edge of the lawn, where it meets the hayfield. At the growl he turns to look in her direction. There’s an intensely disdainful expression on Skeeter’s face.

“Trash! Ugly, scraggly, disgusting, disruptive piece of fur!”

She knows that fool tomcat is so brazen as to sleep on the front porch swing if he thinks no one is around.

“How dare you!” Then she turns her face slightly, “I’m sure he has fleas.”

The old tom lowers his head and moves out of sight. Skeeter turns to see whether I am looking.

“Do you see? Well, then do something!”

She looks away to her other patrol duties: counting the number of birds at the feeder, and scanning the sky for hawks. Is there a dog loose? Are the chickens out?

This cat has lived all of her life in the country and she knows from years of experience what it takes to survive.

You can’t change everything to suit your needs. One has to adapt to what is, like a neighbor cat multiplying endlessly. There’s only so much room and a limited amount of food available. We have to lock the screen door now so that strays don’t come in and help themselves to our food. Can you believe it?

She’s had her share of painful confrontations, wounds, and near scrapes, and has decided to become pretty much an indoor cat these days. When she feels feisty, like her old self, she pushes open the front screen door on her own and clears the porch of move-ins, who run off into the bushes. 

And now Skeeter’s ready for a snooze. She jumps easily to her spot on the back of the couch, lowers her chin, closes her eyes in contentment, and begins to purr.

“It’s just another day in the country; all in a day’s work.” 

Last modified Aug. 5, 2020

 

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