Friday, October 12, 2012

My Cat Fix While I Was Away

So, I've often noticed when with my father-in-law that he's developed baby radar: he loves spending time with his great-grandchildren so much that he immediately notices any baby or toddler in any restaurant or public place he enters. I even got to see him do a I've-got-more-great-grandchildren-than-you contest with another senior citizen he ran into (he won, ten to seven -- but only by including his youngest son's son's soon-to-be-born little girl)

With me, it's cats. I love petting and playing with other people's cats when I visit their home, like to notice cats watching out windows taking in the world when I'm on a walk, and volunteer once a week at an adoption room for a no-kill shelter (Purrfect Pals, centered up in Arlington) -- letting the cats out of their cages to wander freely in a glass-walled room while I clean up their dirt boxes, give them fresh food and water, and "socialize' them (pet them, play with them, sometimes walk them on a leash). With the result that I find myself on the look-out for cats when I'm away from home.

During our two weeks in England in September, I saw four cats:
--one self-satisified sitting in the garden behind our hotel (Celtic House, not far from Russell Sq). Only saw this one when I was looking down from a third story window (second floor they wd call it), but clearly at ease in its own surroundings.
--one friendly but self-possessed little striped brown stripling at Lacock, a Cotswold village that looks exactly as it looked several centuries ago. This one we came across just outside the churchyard; it let me pet it, then let me know when it'd had enough.
--one yellow cat, lean and furtive, that slipped by us, pressing itself against the buildings on a street in a bad neighborhood we were walking through when we got off-track on our way to a tube station. Clearly trying to avoid being noticed, and aside from myself, successfully. Someone opened the door to an apartment building on her way out, and it dashed inside. Looked like this one has a hard life but knows how best to cope; hope it has somewhere it can get enough to eat and a safe place to sleep.
--finally, a neighborhood cat (longhair, grey and fluffy I think) we saw making its rounds the last night we were in Bath, walking some unfamiliar streets on the west edge of town looking for a laundromat (with the help of some friendly local folks, we did, but it had already closed. Que sera.

And during our week in Milwaukee (The Ambassador), Delavan (Lake Lawn Lodge), and Harvard (Ravenstone Castle), I saw two:
--Sir Peter, a large brown striped cat who reigns at Ravenstone Castle, the B&B we stayed in on the outskirts of Harvard (he was shy about approaching us but friendly when petted, and appreciated the catnip teabag I'd brought along as an offering to him.
--an orange and white cat, prowling the neighborhood in Harvard nr my father-in-law's apt: didn't want to be approached by strangers (e.g., me) but didn't flee panic-strickened; just removed itself when I moved towards it and went back to what it'd been doing (looking for mice in the tall grass, I think) as soon as I withdrew.

And then back home again to our own three: Rigby and Hastur and Feanor, who are emphatic that we're not to go away and leave them again for a while.

--John R.

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