Do moms develop ESP?

My mom Cathy says she can tell when I am Up To Something. She’ll hear a rustle or a crunch and she leaps up from her desk: “Gracie? What are you doing? Stop it! Now!!!”

Usually she’s right. I’m chewing up a delicious camera cord (my favorite) or a paper plate or a brush with a plastic handle.

But sometimes she’ll find Creampuff happily chewing away on her food. Creampuff can leap to the kitchen counter for casual between-meal snacks. She eats heartily and never gains an ounce. Ophelia, whose short fat legs won’t give her the momentum for a Big Leap Forward, eats only a few times a day and tips the scale at fifteen pounds.

I love it when that happens. A clear Not Guilty verdict for the dog.

Two cats, doing what they do best…

Okay, here are our two feline housemates. They’re engaged in their favorite activity: eating. Ophelia may be the champion but Creampuff isn’t exactly holding back. They’re both so absorbed in feeding their furry faces. They don’t even notice they’re co-existing peacefully, side by side.

My mom loves these scenes. “See?” she says. “Even full grown cats can learn to get along.”

Yeah, yeah…so what’s the big deal? Ophelia’s been here for over 2 years now. Nobody’s gotten killed. No blood has been shed. Occasionally we hear a yowl…very rarely these days. They’re settled.

But I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more photos of these cats. Ten years from now, we will see two senior cats, side by side, and my mom will be reaching for the camera. “Oh look, Gracie! They’re getting along!” she will exclaim. Picture #1000 ready to roll.

Good grief … all this fuss about a cat

Even my mom was surprised. She picked up the Week In Review Section of the New York Times to catch up on current events. Right on the front page of this section was a big story about a stray cat the author found in India. It’s the old story about a scraggly cat that recovered, with the help of a lot of love and good food.

Ophelia was a little scraggly when she came to live with us. She wasn’t exactly starving like that cat. She weighed fifteen pounds. She had an eye infection and she hated Creampuff. Now she’s got a healthy coat, she tolerates Creampuff and she still weighs fifteen pounds.

“The cat in the story liked to roam around,” my mom said. “That would never work here.”

We all feel sad about Creampuff sometimes. This ditzy calico loves the outdoors. With the right owner, she’d be an indoor/outdoor cat, my mom says. Alas, she’s destined to spend her life inside, as a city apartment cat. She seems happy. She purrs a lot.

And after all, what choices did she have? She wouldn’t have survived another month at that shelter. Let’s not go there.

But we’re still puzzled. How does a cat story merit all that space in a distinguished newspaper?

Sunny day with a cat

city dog and apartment cat enjoying sunFor once, Creampuff has the right idea. She’s snoozing in the sun. I’m sitting next to her so I can keep an eye on our ditziest housemate. We’re in Cathy’s office, trying to distract her from her work.

“Website makeover!” she mutters from time to time. “Hassle. Frustration.”

That’s where Creampuff and I get busy earning our food and treats. We lighten the mood. We give the mom perspective.

“Gracie, why are you lying in the sun?” my mom asks. “Dogs don’t tolerate heat well.”

True. Eventually I’ll move to my own bed and Creampuff will go off in search of new adventures. And in just a few minutes, I will nudge my mom with my cold nose, reminding her I need a walk. Her work can wait. I can’t.

Cats totally relaxing in their new home

Don’t they look like an old married couple? My mom says, “The cats are getting along much better since we moved. Everything was strange except…each other.”

Or else, I would add, they’re getting older and wiser. When a cat hisses, Cathy says, “Look, you either get along or you go back to the pound. You didn’t like the pound, did you? Both of you cats spent serious hard time in small cages. You really don’t want to go back there, do you?”

Nobody feels seriously threatened. We all know we’re not going anywhere. But somehow the cats pick up on Cathy’s energy and they seem to respect each other’s boundaries a little more.

The cats never go outside, except in their small crates on their way to the vet. So windows are a big deal to them, especially Creampuff.

Creampuff would have preferred to be an outdoor cat. The only problem was, nobody wanted a 2-year-old calico cat in Silver City, New Mexico. She had been in a cage for three months when Cathy came looking. Her calico cat Loretta had just died. (Loretta was named for the country music singer, Loretta Lynn, because she had whiny done-me-wrong yowl. I shudder when I think about it.)

The shelter staff persuaded Cathy to take Creampuff home. It was an easy sell. My mom usually takes the first dog or cat she sees at a shelter or (in my case) online. So Creampuff got a new home. Not perfect, but she’s alive and free to express her ditzy personality.

Creampuff wouldn’t last long on the outside. I’ve been there and I know. My mom says Creampuff once caught a mouse in her New Mexico house. But I suspect that mouse was even ditzier than Creampuff herself. Even my mom says, “We were the only house in the neighborhood with cats. So any mouse who ended up there wasn’t very bright.”

I rest my case. And these cats are resting as comfortably as any cats in Seattle, or maybe the world.

Ouch…we all go to the vet

City dog weighing in at the veterinarian's office “This week is going to be hellish,” my mom said. “So we might as well do everything we all dread.” So she decided to take our feline housemates to get their teeth cleaned. And since I am getting better, we decided I’d get a rabies shot update too.

As usual, I had a good time at the vet’s office. While we were waiting our turn, several other owners commented on what a great dog I am. “So beautiful,” they said. “So well-behaved.” Chloe the receptionist came over to give me a quick massage and tell me , “Gracie, you are such a wonderful dog.”

My mom put me on the scale. I’m down a few pounds. Well, no wonder. If you had to eat that awful bland diet, you’d be a poster child for weight loss too.

Creampuff’s anesthesiaq-free dentistry went swiftly. Ophelia of course was the Drama Queen of the day. She yowled all the way in the cab and made her feelings known in the reception room. Then the vet discovered she has a cavity so she has to come back and get anesthetized. Dr. Clare drew blood while Ophelia loudly proclaimed that she was on her last paws and not long for this world.

Luckily we had no trouble getting cabs each way. My mom gave the drivers big tips. She was so grateful that they took the whole family.

As soon as we got home, Ophelia headed under my mom’s bed. I must admit I couldn’t resist teasing her a litlte. She was waddling around anxiously, as if to say, “Don’t make me do that again!”

“For wahat I pay in vet bills,” the mom said, “I could have a long vacation on a Caribbean beach.”

As Tony Soprano would say, “Fuhgeddaboutit.” Cathy hates beaches. She’s an urban person. She’s happy in Seattle. She needs us.

But just in case, I’m on good behavior the rest of the day….well at leaset an hour.

So what’s the big deal…

Of course I sleep. Dogs sleep most of the time. So do cats.

What’s unusual, my mom says, is that dogs and cats rarely sleep together. she keeps taking pictures of me with Ophelia on our own special corner of the couch.

This time I got to the couch first and Ophelia went into the dominant sleeping position that only a cat can take.

“What’s wrong with your dog bed?” my mom asks. “It’s nice and fuzzy and you would have room to stretch out.”

“Who cares?” I say. “The important thing is that Ophelia’s getting way too confident in this household. She’s the most recent acquisition. She started out as a timid, fearful feline and now…she’s taken over.”

Alas, my mom is the kind of person who roots for the underdog. She’s thrilled to see Ophelia making such great progress. She’d like to see Ophelia and Creampuff getting along, instead of this triangle where both cats adore the dog.

Well, what’s not to love? Total strangers come up to say, “Aww….what a cute dog.” Even a cat can recognize an adorable housemate when she sees one.

Meanwhile, back to the nap.

Cat holding position

dog and catHere’s Ophelia firmly holding on to her spot on the couch.

She got here first and notice how she’s expanded to take up the whole space. Not hard to do when you’re a queen-sized feline. Notice how there’s no way I can possibly squeeze in.

Cats control their world even when they’re asleep…or pretending. Ophelia’s got one eye squinting out at us.

My mom doesn’t really care who’s on the couch as long as somebody joins her. She says, “I pay all this money for crunchies. The least I can expect is some company while I work.”

And she’s happy to see Ophelia emerge from her hiding places and join the family. She will never forget how Ophelia arrived as a timid stray cat who promptly stopped eating and got sick with liver disease.

Ophelia’s left her past behind. Better than some humans, my mom says. She’s totally at home, as you can see. And I don’t think she belongs in the “finicky eater” department anymore. My mom just put out an SOS call to the vet, asking how much to feed Ophelia every day. I suggested we send Ophelia out to catch some mice in the park but nobody paid any attention.

Now here’s a cat who knows her place

Strange to think that our ditzy Creampuff is the only family member who knows her place.

Creampuff recognizes a cat cushion when she sees one. My mom bought this cushion years ago. She can’t even remember when she got it but she thinks it’s from one of those “cats only” stores. Might have been the one in Tennessee when she was on a business trip. She really liked that store in Green Hllls mall and she went there when she attended conferences in Nashville.

Now of course it’s faded and worn but Creampuff still likes it. Thank goodness! One less contender for my favorite spot on the crowded couch.