The Chronicles of Mingo

Watch Out, World, Mingo’s Out

I let Mingo go outside from pure self-defense. He’s pushing 12 lbs. in weight, he has an endless supply of energy, curiosity, and limited common sense. He’s like a four-year-old. (This might be a libel on four-year-olds. If so, my apologies.)

In the last few days, he’s climbed inside the dishwasher twice, attempted to climb inside a hot oven, and persists in trying to crawl into plastic bags. Back in the fall, I’d had to ask the contractors not to leave plastic drop cloths around since he would roll up in them like a furry burrito and I was worried he’d smother. All those old dry cleaner bags with dire warns of Death By Suffocation— I used to think they were funny. I emptied a plastic bag of broccoli, turned away for one minute, turned back, and the empty bag was full of Ming. He’s all over the countertop when I’m in the kitchen so either I keep an eye on him every bloody goddamn minute or lock him away in the back room. He really wants to stick his nose into a lit burner (what is that funny blue flame?), plus he doesn’t have any awareness of where his tail is and drapes it negligently over the stove, the chopping board, and plates. I’m now accustomed to washing dishes with Ming head-down in the sink. He simply sticks his head under the water faucet, no problem, although he’s not fond of being squirted with the water pistol and hides when he sees it. (Watching him attempt to hide behind the coffee pot is very funny, because in common with Rainy he thinks if he can’t see me I can’t see him. So the coffee pot is surrounded by fur, but he’s invisible.)

What really tipped the scales was his constant harassment of the other cats. They are trying to nap, because old, and Ming is pushing them out of their beds. I know he’s trying to play, or play/fight, and they do cooperate a bit, but it was turning into constant battles and now Mingo is using his increasing weight to push them around.

So I let him outside and I have to tell you: this is one happy cat. So far he’s sticking around the deck and smelling every bush, leaf, and twig. Under the deck is Rainy’s favorite hangout when she’s out, and Ming loves it under there. Lots of dark nooks to explore.

I live in a very remote area; there is little traffic, and my entire yard is fenced. I’m sure if Ming decides to go outside the yard he can achieve this — there’s no way I can make the yard into a total cat enclosure. And I don’t have a cat door because I don’t let any cat roam at night. But I let him out for a few hours yesterday, checking on him frequently, and again this morning. He appears when I call his name; he doesn’t exactly come to me because that’s demeaning for a cat. I dragged him inside after lunch (Nooooooo, put me DOWN!) and he’s passed out at the top of the cat scratching post. He’s actually tired out. I didn’t think that was possible.


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.