The Chronicles of Mingo

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.

Mary Holland

Mary Holland writes alternative-world fantasy for grown-ups. Her books include Matcher Rules, The Bone Road, and The Dog of Pel. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with three cats and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife.

2 thoughts on “Mingo and the Decline In My Living Standards”

    • Thanks for the kind words. He’s really a no-good-deed-goes-unpunished sort of rescue kitten. But he does keep me amused.

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