Meow my cat is acting strangely lately. She’s at least 20 years old because that’s the time she has lived with me here on Nanoose Bay in Lantzville on Vancouver Island. She was already an adult cat when she stopped by the kitchen door one day 20 years ago and caught a rat. A feral cat, she must have liked our company because she stayed.
I have had cougars for companions but not domestic cats. We welcomed her but it was obvious somebody didn’t. She had only half a tail yet she wasn’t a Manx cat. Somebody had chopped off half her tail. She learned to enjoy caresses but beware if you stroked her back end or what was left of her tail. Spits and snarls were instantaneous. And boy, could she bite!
I live alone and spend most of my time sitting at a computer (a habit I am determined soon to forsake) and Meow until recently has shared her days and nights with me lying on my desk and trying to sleep on my fingers as I type. She doesn’t realize I need my hands for writing. I’ll blame her for me not finishing my 20th book (about human relations this time and set in Egypt).
Meow used to sleep in my bed, purring on the pillow and kneading her fingers into my face. But recently she prefers spending nights in the nearby bathroom sink! In the morning, her bed becomes a bowl when I turn on the tap. Then we go to the kitchen for breakfast. She doesn’t recognize the kitchen chairs. Instead, she and her four feet literally shares my table to eat with me then she pads across the counters and (eek!) onto the stove. That has been the routine. She is the boss.
But lately, Meow has been disappearing for days at a time. I wasn’t particularly worried as cats sleep a lot and I can usually find her by meowing my way through the shrubs and bushes of my seaside garden till she appears. I pick her up, she purrs and we cuddle.
But she doesn’t spend any time inside the house. And for long periods of time she is not visible in the garden. Perhaps because earlier this summer, one of the nesting backyard eagles swooped down from the nest and tried to carry her off in its talons as food for its eaglet. I had to treat the bloody cut and sore on her back and side of her face.
But I found her hiding places. First under the trees amid the dense ivy growing up behind the neighbour’s garage, then when she had trampled several paths and sleeping places there, she did the same amid the reeds and rushes under the willow tree. She stayed there night and day, only coming out for the familiar bowl of food at mealtime or when I carried her purring into my arms for a cuddle and scratch.
At first I thought she was choosing these cool shady hiding places to escape the day’s surprising heat this summer or even to avoid another possible attack by eagles and vultures, but no, she stays hidden amid the tall grass and rushes even when fall is now bringing cooler weather. She only creeps out of her hidey holes to eat or drink. I carry her into the kitchen but immediately I put her down on the floor, she will scamper outside and sit on the backyard table which is where I now feed her. For much of the day and all of the night she stays hidden in long grass and rushes. What is happening? Is she going to die? She still comes for food.
Like Tom my cougar, Meow is the child I never had.