We moved out of the townhouse in December 2015, into a house with a garden. Pringles was very skittish for the first few weeks in the new house, which was understandable, and all he wanted to do was get out into the garden so that he could hide underneath the house. We kept him locked inside for a week, just to be safe, we didn’t want him running away and we finally let him out for the first time a few days before Christmas.
The house has a rainwater tank (we aren’t connected to council water supply) and I was woken up early one morning, just before sunrise, during our first week in our ‘new’ house, with Pringles yowling “Mom, Mom!”. It’s his ‘rescue me’ meow that sounds exactly like a small child calling for mom. I went outside armed with a torch, as it was still dark, and a tumbler of water to find Pringles sitting up on top of the water tank and the other cat sitting on the ground at the base. Pringles saw me and suddenly got all brave because he now had backup, he leaped off the water tank and chased the other cat over the grass, down the garden, and over the back fence onto the golf course, before he came sauntering back as if to say “Did you see, Mom? Did you see? I chased him!” I haven’t seen that cat in our garden again, but its so funny how Catty needs backup before he gets all brave.
That summer was particularly warm and the cicadas were out in full-force, singing their deafening song and flying around all over the place. I was getting tired of catching all the cicadas that flew inside the house and putting them back out the window, only to have them fly back in again. Pringles was busy sunning himself in the bay window one morning, when a cicada flew in. He had no idea what it was and as usual, just ignored it. I had something in mind, so I called him and and used the words we’d trained him with to indicate that there was food or a snack. Well, he pounced on the cicada, played with it for a little while and then ate it. The next cicada that flew in didn’t stand a chance! As soon as he heard the flapping wings, he dashed across the room, pounced and ate it. He obviously likes the taste of cicada.
One year later, he actively hunts them in the garden, listening for the noise that they make before creeping up on them and either pouncing, or jumping up to knock it off a branch if it’s sitting in a bush. We no longer refer to them as cicadas, they’re now called “Catty snacks”. I don’t mind him eating a few of these insects, as there are thousands of them around in summer, and it’s not like he eats all that many in a day.
Not long after we moved into the house, Pringles decided that our garden wasn’t a big enough territory for him, and he took to roaming the neighbours gardens as well. He soon learned (by accident) that the neighbour on our right has a small dog. One morning, Pringles came leaping over the 6ft fence, as fast as he could go, with his tail all puffed up and eyes as big as saucers. The dog must have snuck up on him, even though they’ve told me that the dog is “cat-friendly”, and Pringles must have been caught unawares because usually he’ll stand up to a dog if he feels the dog is in ‘his’ territory.
Since then, he seems to only roam our garden and the neighbours garden on the left of us. Thankfully, the neighbours don’t mind my Catty going to visit and my “lion” can often be found lying in a sunny spot at the bottom of their garden, or ‘supervising’ the gardening and ‘overseeing’ other odd jobs.
Pringles loves attention and will often seek it out, especially if he hears voices out in the neighbour’s garden. There have been mornings when he’s been lying peacefully at my feet while I work, only to suddenly disappear out of the cat flap to go and see who’s in his extended territory (aka the neighbour’s garden). Often when I pop out out to run errands he’ll wait a few minutes before hopping over the low fence to go over for a cuddle, or to sit on the their windowsill and sun himself. He’s never done this with any of our other neighbours in the past, and we’ve never encouraged it, but he’s even followed a door-to-door salesman from our house to theirs, just like a dog. He’s definitely adopted our neighbours as part of his “family”, and least I know where to look for him if I can’t find him at home. I also know that there’s someone keeping an eye on him, especially if I’m out for the day, or if I’m busy with clients, and I don’t have to worry about him wandering off around the neighbourhood, as he tends to stay between these two gardens.
We do still lock him in at night, purely for my own peace-of-mind. We live on a busy road and I’d hate for him to be run over at night. It also stops other cats from coming into our house, and it protects the wild hedgehogs in our garden, and any other nocturnal creatures from being tormented at night.
Catty is very happy to finally have his own garden and is still very playful for his 10 years. We’d warned the neighbours that he is a “cat-burglar” (see part 2) and it was almost as if Pringles heard me. A few days later, he brought a rag in through the cat flap. I returned it next door and the following day, the rag was back. This backwards and forwards game with the cloth continued for a week, until it was knotted to the railing and my little rascal couldn’t pull it loose.
Winter arrived and we finally got to use our fireplace. This is the first time we’ve ever had a fireplace and Pringles had no idea what it was. It went from being something extremely scary (with him hiding under the bed), to it being tolerated from across the lounge, to becoming his best friend, and by the end of winter he couldn’t seem get close enough! On days when it’s not cold enough to light a fire, he now goes and sits in front of it, waiting for us to light it, giving us disgusted looks when he realizes that that’s not going to happen.
We recently went away for a week and a few days after we returned from our trip to Gisborne and Rotorua, Catty woke me up unexpectedly. He’d waited until hubby had literally just left for work at 6am, before waking me up with this deep, guttural “rowr, rowr, rowr.” Still half asleep, I wondered if the cat was meowing because he hadn’t been let out yet, and it was only when he made the deep-throated “rowr” noise again, that I realised it was an “I’ve brought you a present” rowr and not a “let me out” or “feed me” meow.
I turned the light on in the bedroom and there on the carpet was this large insect. At first I thought it was a huge spider and started to panic, but then I saw the feelers and realised what it was. For those of you who don’t know what a New Zealand Weta looks like, its sort of like a large cricket on steroids and about 6cm long (click on this link to read more about Weta). This was the first Weta I’ve seen up close and I just wanted to get it outside before the cat ate it, or it crawled into a cupboard, so I didn’t get a very good look at it. I’m not sure if it was a ground weta or a tree weta, I just grabbed a tissue, picked it up in and wanted to get it out of the window and into the garden as fast as possible, before I got a serious case of the heebie-jeebies!
Murphy’s Law, while I was carrying it from the passage into the lounge, to get it to a window the leads out to the garden, I dropped it! It was still fairly dark, so I fumbled around trying to find the right light switch for the room, hoping that I wouldn’t accidentally step on it in the process as I was barefoot, and once I got a light on, the weta had simply disappeared! Now, I knew that it was impossible for something as large as that weta to just simply vanish into thin air. I had dropped it mere seconds ago and it was in an open carpeted area. Where could it be? … After a few minutes of looking around, I glanced down at my leg, and there it was, clinging tightly onto the leg of my pyjama pants for dear life! Eeeek! And this thing just wouldn’t let go! Eventually I pulled quite firmly and the weta let go, and I was able to put it out onto the outside windowsill. The last I saw of it, it was happily crawling along the side of our house above the garden, fully intact and completely unharmed, as I’d manage to rescue it before Catty decided that he wanted the gift back.
I’ve learned over the years that when Catty brings me a gift, it’s usually caught and carried inside very gently and carefully, and is normally unharmed when he delivers it. If I’m going to rescue the ‘gift’, I have to move quickly, otherwise he changes his mind and either starts playing with it, which leads to his claws coming out, or he delivers a fatal nip that usually signifies that he’s going to eat it (and possibly leave a nice mess on the carpet).
Well, that’s all I have for now, but I’m sure there’ll be a part 5 coming up in a few years’ time, as Pringles is always up to no good and seems to love having these little “adventures”.