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Sunday, February 23, 2014

We were away and the cats did play.

Most parents, upon their return from vacation, look for signs that the kids had a party. In our case, the party animals were the cats. Actual felines. We have two self-proclaimed housecats (we didn’t invite them; they just moved in) and two barn cats that are quite feral but reserve the right to come in and eat / sleep / poop in the nice litter box anytime they want.  If you suspect the barn cats have entered the house, you cannot close the door to the basement. Otherwise you will be cutting off their access to food, water and, more importantly, toilet facilities. Denying them this access can have disastrous results. My daughter and her husband were watching the house in our absence and I don’t expect them to go hunting for feral cats every time they want to leave so I told them to just leave the basement door open. So the cats had full run of the house. For a week.
When I returned, here is what I saw. A fine cloud of white fur had settled on every flat surface of the house, including the hardwood floor, kitchen table and countertops, couch cushions and throw pillows. The dog’s blanket, once blue and orange, was also coated in fluffy white, leading me to believe this was the bed of choice for the felines last week.
The bread bag featured small bite marks that had no doubt been made by sharp little cat teeth. The butter (left out on the counter for some reason) had paw marks, scratchy tongue tracks and cat hair in it. After throwing these things in the garbage I continued my inspection.
Having played surrogate mama to thirty-seven kittens several seasons ago, (when I was taming them for adoption) Sheila the diminutive housecat likes to continue in this role by carrying small kitten-sized toys around in her mouth.  She goes digging in the toy box downstairs and pulls out anything that is about the size of a small kitten. Then she tucks them in strange places around the house. It’s quite endearing, really. After our vacation, nearly every wrinkle in the dog bed contained a small plush toy. They were also deposited on stairs, behind the toilet, on kitchen chairs and there was even a small purple elephant in the bowl of water at the feeding station. I guess she thought it might be thirsty. She does this often. Then she drags the wet toy around the house, leaving puddles on the hardwood floor for me to slip in.
I also found puddles of water around each of the toilets – obviously another favourite place to play on a long winter afternoon.
I guess the red feathers that I bought at the Third World Bazaar look a little too much like a bird because they had been tackled, plucked and left to die on the floor. The bird-watching station on the windowsill next to the outdoor feeder was obviously a popular spot as my candles and other knick-knacks had been pushed aside to make room for someone who left large tufts of fur behind.
Probably the cats’ favourite spot to play in the house is the carpeted staircase. I think they imagine they are ancient warrior cats, defending the plateau of their people as they race up and down the steps, digging their claws into the rug as they go. After a week of this unsupervised play (I usually cut it off after round one as it can be quite destructive), the carpet now has some frayed, loose edges and there is white fur in the creases that even the vacuum cleaner cannot reach. Sigh.
Thank goodness I had the foresight to close all the bedroom doors before I left. I can just imagine what my bed would look like if the cat brigade had had their way with it.
The cats certainly appear to have had a good time with the house all to themselves for a week. But all good things come to an end and it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The moment I opened the sliding door to the back porch, out they all went. And I haven’t seen them since. I guess they have a slight case of kitty cabin fever.

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