The Adventures of my FurKid – part 4

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 4

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.

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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 (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, jumped off the water tank and chased the other cat over the grass, down the garden and over the fence onto the golf course before he came sauntering back as if to say “Did you see, Mom? 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.

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That summer was particularly warm and the cicadas were out in full-force, signing their deafening song and flying around all over the place. I was getting tired of catching the cicadas that flew inside the house and putting them back out the window. 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 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 then in the garden, listening for the noise they make, 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”.

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Not long after we moved in, 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 one neighbour has a small dog. One morning, he 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 (they’ve told me he’s “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 other side. 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.

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Pringles loves attention and will often seek it out, especially if he hears voices out in the garden. There have been mornings when he’s been lying peacefully at my feet while I work, only to suddenly disappear out the cat flap to go and see who’s in his extended territory (the neighbours garden). Often when I pop out out to run errands he’ll wait a few minutes before hopping the fence to go for a cuddle or to sit on the neighbours windowsill. He’s never done this with any of our other neighbours in the past (we’ve never encouraged it) and he’s even followed a door-to-door salesman from our house to theirs, just like a dog!

At least I know where to look for him if I can’t find him at home and I know that there’s often someone keeping an eye on him, if I’m out for the day. I don’t have to worry about him wandering off around the neighbourhood, as he tends to stay between the 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 protects the wild hedgehogs in our garden (and any other nocturnal creatures).

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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 next day, it was back. This backwards and forwards game with the cloth continued for a week, until it was knotted to the railing and the little rascal couldn’t pull it loose.

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Winter arrived and we 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 extremely scary (with him hiding under the bed), to being tolerated from across the lounge, to becoming his best friend!  By the end of winter he could seem get close enough.  He’d also sit in front of it and wait for us to light it, giving us disgusted looks on nights when it wasn’t cold enough for a fire!

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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 meow 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 Weta. 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, it 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 treeweta weta, I just grabbed a tissue, picked it up in and wanted to get it out the window 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 step on it in the process (I was barefoot) and once I got a light on, the weta had simply disappeared! Now, I knew that it wasn’t possible, for something as large as a weta to just 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 at my leg and there it was, clinging onto my pyjama pants! Eeeek! And this thing just wouldn’t let go! Eventually I pulled quite firmly and the weta let go and out onto the outside windowsill it went. The last I saw of it, it was crawling along the side of our house above the garden, fully intact and unharmed as I’d manage to rescue it before Catty decided that he wanted the gift back to play with or eat as a snack!

I’ve learned over the years that when Catty brings me a gift, it’s usually caught and carried inside very carefully and is 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 fateful bite that usually signifies that he’s going to eat it and leave a mess on the carpet.

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Christmas Eve … he’s eager to open his presents!

I’m sure there’ll be a part 5 in a year or two’s time, as Pringles is always up to no good and seems to love having these little adventures.

The Adventures of my FurKid – part 2

The words “Cat burglar” definitely come to mind when I think about another phase that he went through.  It started off with him bringing home dried leaves and palm fronds (our neighbour saw this and asked if he was nesting!).  This soon became rags or items of laundry that had been dropped in the garden or had blown off the washline.  Then one night he brought home a pair of little boy’s shorts.  There was only one family in the block with a little boy under the age of two, so I was able to return them the next day.

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The following week, it was a pair of brand new, clean, Woolworths ladies panties (boyshort style).  I had no idea who they belonged to, so I hung them up on the communal washing line, hoping that the owner would claim them.  The next night, another pair of the same brand new, clean, Woolworths boyshorts (same size but different pattern from the previous night).  These went into a plastic bag as the other pair was still hanging on the line outside.  When he appeared the next evening carrying a third pair of these brand new undies (yet another pair, same size, different pattern), I knew I had to do something.  Showing him the offending item and telling him he was a ‘bad cat’ was not working.

Somewhere out there was a poor woman missing 3 pairs of brand new underwear, quite possibly from inside her locked apartment!  I could only imagine what would go through her mind when she realized they were missing!  So at 7pm, out I went, armed with the latest pair of undies and my ‘not-so-innocent’ Catty happily trotting along behind me (it was almost as if he was interested to see if I could solve this one).  I knocked on every door that had an open window or open door where he could have gained access and asked if the underwear belonged to anyone in that apartment, explaining the situation and that this was now the 3rd pair!  Obviously, this brought forth many chuckles, but did not solve the problem.  No one admitted to owning the underwear!

I began to wonder where in the neighbourhood he was getting them from and how far he was roaming.  It must have been a very funny sight to see – a cat trotting down the sidewalk with a pair of panties dangling from his mouth!  Over the next two nights, two more pairs of brand new boyshorts appeared.  Whoever this lady was, she was now missing 5 pairs of brand new underwear!  If it was me, I’d be seriously worried about my underwear going missing from inside my house, with no clue as to how someone had gotten in or how it had gone missing!  I kept the plastic bag of brand new underwear for two weeks, just in case I found the owner.  I never did, and it was eventually added to a load of second-hand clothing that was donated.

As I mentioned earlier, my Catty is a hunter and he will hunt anything that moves … grasshoppers, lizards, butterflies, birds and even your feet (if he’s in the mood)! Being on the rather “festively plump” side, more often than not, it’ll be a near miss when it comes to stalking birds, but he has managed to catch a few. Usually he’ll bring them to us very gently, as unharmed ‘gifts’, and we’re able to rescue them and set them free. But there was one occasion when I woke up one morning to find our lounge looking like a murder scene … there was a large pool of blood on the carpet and feathers everywhere! He’d managed to catch a pigeon during the night and had decided that this one was not going to be a gift – he was going to eat it! Having to clean bird blood out of a cream coloured carpet at 6am (before going to work) was not my idea of fun and Pringles knew he was in trouble! He made himself very scarce and went off to to hide in the garden.

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Four years after we’d first got Pringles, we ended up installing a cat flap in our front door.  He’d always used a kitchen window to get in an out of but after an attempted break-in at 2am one morning, the cat flap became a necessity.  We hadn’t even had the flap for a week, when we were rudely awoken at 5am with very loud meowing and yowling.  Thinking that there was a cat fight going on in our lounge, we padded through the house (with my heart pounding in my chest), only to find Catty lying outside on the doormat with his front paw trapped in cat flap!  He’d been playing with it.  Swatting at the flap as if it were a toy and had gotten his paw well and truly wedged between the flap and the frame!  His paw was upturned and the flap had become wedged in between the paw pads.  How we eventually got it free, I have no idea!  Unfortunately, he did not learn his lesson and this happened again about a month later, also in the early hours of the morning!

I’ll never forget the afternoon that I thought my cat was going to die … I came home from work to find him playing with something in the garden. Thinking that it was just an insect of some sort, I left him alone, as he often supplemented his diet by eating insects and lizards. The next thing I know, he’s shaking his front paw frantically and there’s this long, thin, green thing hanging off it. A snake!

I ran down the stairs and onto the grass to go rescue my Catty (completely ignoring my absolute fear of snakes). Meanwhile he was rather irritated that this thing had bitten him and proceeded to pounce on its body with his other front paw. By the time I reached him, he’d bitten the snake a few times and had broken its neck. With my heart pounding, I picked up my cat, leaving the snake on the grass and ran upstairs with him in my arms, tears streaming down my face, shouting for my hubby and crying “My Catty’s been bitten by a snake! He’s going to die!”.

I was asked what kind of snake it was, and if I was sure it was dead and that it hadn’t already slithered off … How would I know? To me, a snake is a snake and in my mind, they’re all poisonous, horrible things that I prefer to stay away from. I wasn’t going to hang around to see if it was really and truly dead. I was more worried about getting Catty to the Vet!

Hubby went off to investigate, with Catty and I trailing sheepishly behind. It turns out it was only a harmless bush snake (not poisonous), and yes, it was dead!

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In July 2013, we moved halfway around the world and I chose to take my Catty with me.  Many people told me that I was crazy.  Yes, it was expensive, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave my FurKid behind.

He went through a lot with this move.  He was put into a cattery for a month before we flew so that they could do all the vaccinations, inoculations and paperwork required.  I also didn’t want him to be around while we packed up the flat, as I was trying to reduce his stress levels as much as possible.  He flew on a different airline to us (via Sydney, which made his flight shorter) and was placed in quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the new country.  When we finally went to collect him, I hadn’t seen him for 6 weeks!

We arrived at the quarantine facility and they took me through to see him.  I called his name and got no response.  Not even an ear twitch of recognition.  I was hurt!  Had my Catty forgotten me already or was this payback for all that he’d been through?  The reason soon revealed itself … it was mid-winter and the quarantine facility had spoilt him by putting an electric blanket inside his bed!  He was so nice and warm in his cosy little bed that he didn’t want to come home.

We stayed with my hubby’s aunt and uncle for the first few weeks after we arrived and kept Catty locked inside ‘our’ bedroom, just in case he decided to make a run for it.  On this particular morning, we happened to pop out for groceries and left the bedroom window cracked open to let some fresh air in.  I had done this before, as the windows are quite stiff and very hard to push open.

I forgot to mention the open window (the bedroom door was kept closed) and unknowingly, the house was vacuumed while we were out.  Catty is absolutely petrified of vacuum cleaners!  The way he reacts, you’d swear it was out to eat him!  Well, he heard the noise and in a frantic panic, with super-catty strength, he managed to push the stiff window open and out into the wild he went.  We arrived home and he was gone!  My heart sank.  To bring him all this way, only to have him disappear without a trace.  Thankfully he hadn’t gone far and was hiding underneath the house.  It took a while, but my hubby eventually coaxed him out and we locked him back inside the house.  The silly sausage!

We’d been here about a month when we finally found a townhouse to rent and promptly packed up the car with our borrowed linen, luggage and the cat (the container with our household goods was still in transit), so we were able to fit everything into the car and could do the move in one trip.  It was about a 20km drive, so off we went.  After having recently flown for hours in a noisy aeroplane, being inside the cat carrier again must have stressed Pringles out immensely, as not even 3kms down the road, he “dropped one” (thankfully I had put newspaper down in his carrier)!  It was a cold, grey, rainy day and we ended up having to drive the next 17kms (gagging on the smell) with our windows rolled down to try and get rid of the awful stench.  At the time, it was not at all funny, but thankfully we can laugh about it now.

After that little incident, we were hoping that our first night in our new home would be unadventurous, but that was wishful thinking!  This was another strange house, with strange smells (there had been another cat living here before) and Pringles kept scratching at the doors and windows trying to get out.

In desperation, we ended up putting him in the laundry room with his food, water and litter box, as it was the only downstairs room with a tiled floor and far enough away from our bedroom so that we could try to get some sleep.

A loud bang abruptly woke us up at 5am the next morning.  Catty had been trying to escape and was jumping up and hanging onto the door handle in an attempt to try open the laundry room door.  I went downstairs to see what all the noise was, only to find that he had managed to slide the barrel bolt across, effectively locking himself inside!  Instant panic!  How was I going to get in there to get him out?

The door handle unscrews, but you need to be able to access both sides to do this and there were no visible screws on the outside.  We remembered that there was set of louvre windows on the side of the laundry room and thankfully we’d left the top set open so that he’d have a bit of fresh air.  There we were, at 5.30am, standing on a chair and reaching in to try and slide the louvres out of the frames so that we could get to the handles on the lower ones to open them and do the same.  Once these had been removed, there was a gap big enough for hubby to climb though and unlock the door.  Needless to say, he wasn’t very impressed with the cat!

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Pringles, Catty, Sprinkles, Orange Cat, Sausage, Thundercat (we have wooden floors and he loves the sound his paws make when goes tearing down the staircase, especially at night!), whatever his current nickname may be, he drives us nuts, has us in fits of laughter and can be extremely entertaining.  I cannot imagine our lives without my FurKid and I’m really glad that I chose to bring him with.  I’m sure these frustrating and entertaining adventures will continue in the years to come and when they do, I’ll write part 3.