Do Not Read This If You Are Fond Of Mice

Yes indeedy, Mingo is now the Great Hunter. Mercifully he is not bringing his prey back to the lair, i.e. my living room or worse, my closet. He passed me on the deck at a fast trot with a tiny foot and a bit of tail hanging from his mouth. It was either a mouse or a lizard but I did not investigate.

Unfortunately, Squeaky DID try to bring the prey back to the lair and I stopped him just in time, took it away from him, and gave it a funeral. The corpse was long dead and (sorry) eviscerated, and I suspect it was Ming’s leavings. Squeaky was extremely bereft and howled for his mousie for half an hour. I hardened my heart.

Mice are only cute to people who have never had an infestation of mice in the house, so I’m not too fussed. Nor do I worry about the lizards. Part of me wishes the damn banana slugs would move fast enough to interest Ming, but the saner part of me thinks about a slime-covered Ming and shudders. Getting bits of twig, seeds, and weeds out of his fur is hard enough. I’m not sure how I’d handle slime.

Everyone says “What a beautiful cat!” but getting repeat volunteers to restrain him while I comb the trash and mats out of his fur is another thing entirely. Once is generally more than enough, because his fur is very thick, his skin is loose, and he’s extremely strong. He’s able to twist around and bite hard, all the while making the pitiful chirps and tiny mewps of a tortured kitten. Nerves of steel and good gloves required. Actually, nerves of steel and gloves of steel would be best.

Pre-Mingo, I was toying with the idea of a bird feeder on the deck. I’m so happy I never followed through. With all the cat activity the local birds have declared the yard a plague zone which is sad but safe. A crow or two stop by to make rude comments from upper branches — Ming hasn’t take to tree climbing, probably because the redwoods and firs are so damn big and vertical and the branches don’t start until twenty feet off the ground. Or at least, he hasn’t taken to tree climbing YET.

I keep Ming in the house after dark. I get him inside by running the can opener. He’s nice and exhausted from a hard day of patrolling the yard. I feed him, he naps, and when he wakes he’s reasonably civilized and hardly bites anyone at all. When he wants something he leaps on my chest (whether or not it is occupied by another cat) and gazes deeply into my eyes. The photo below is not enlarged or cropped. I wedged the iPhone between my chin and Ming and pressed the button.


Mingo and the Decline In My Living Standards

Mingo’s 9 months old and he weighs 12 lbs. He’s the same weight as Squeaky, but a completely different silhouette. Squeaky is rounded and, well, cat-shaped. Ming is rectangular, like a furry shoebox. With an 18 inch tail.

Since he’s been spending most of his days outside, at his own request, life for me and Rainy has calmed down. We can take a nap without being harassed by a bored Ming trying to dig us out from under the quilt. (He doesn’t want to join us, he wants us to entertain him. I’m relatively polite; Rainy snarls.)

Life for Squeaky has changed too, or rather Squeaky has changed. Ming goes out, so Squeaky — for the first time in 15 years — demands to go outside too. Of course, once he is out he has no idea what to do once he’s there, so he howls to get back in. Then he realizes he’s in and Mingo is out, so he howls to go back out. This gets old, and the old person in charge of the door yells at him.

I don’t have a cat door currently. I’m still trying to keep track of who’s in and who’s out. Plus I’m attempting to cat-proof the yard so Mingo and Squeaky stay inside the fence. This is a joke. The fence is 5 feet high. Ming is a climber and eventually it will occur to him to simply go over it. As several people have pointed out, they make cat-proof fencing, but as I am still in the swamp of house remodeling and I spent far too much money last year on boring fence repair, I’m resisting paying for this.

Besides, after yesterday I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t work. Ming found a hole in the old section of wire fencing and was bouncing around the driveway. I corralled him and devoted an hour to patching the hole with chicken wire. When I let him out again he bee-lined back to the hole and ran smack into the chicken wire. I expected him to turn away. Instead, he tried to get through again. When he couldn’t, he stared at it in outrage. Then he tried to BITE HIS WAY THROUGH THE CHICKEN WIRE. This cat is awe-inspiring, and that’s not a compliment. He’s awe-inspiring in same way other catastrophes of nature inspire awe: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes.

My living standards have dropped. Ming sheds hair in drifts, sort of instant dust bunnies (cat bunnies?)  and I refuse to vacuum this house every day. I’ve become accustomed to batting Ming’s tail away from my toothbrush, the sinks, and any food I try to prepare. He loves brussels sprouts and sticks his nose under the knife when I’m using the cutting board, so I give him a bit to chew on. Sometime this past year I lost the rule of “no cats on the countertop or the table”, also, “no giving cats human food”. It’s now second nature to check on his whereabouts before turning my back on a plate of food, and he’s really fast.

I keep all the cats in at night because of predators. After he eats, Ming has this habit of jumping on my chest, staring into my eyes, and pressing his paws against my throat. It would be endearing, except I suspect he’s checking the location of my jugular vein in case he feels peckish.