Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Five ~ dogs or cats or what?

Jan @ RevGalBlogPals wrote:  "In my experience in the United States, people are either 'Dog People' or 'Cat People.'  As the graph above illustrates, not everyone is limited to those types of animals.  So I am wondering about pets and experiences with them."

1.  Are you a DOG or a CAT person?  Or OTHER?
I have had a number of pets turtles, puppies, fish, kitties, salamander, and a hamster named Herman, for example but the ones I have bonded with have mostly been cats.  Kiki Cat, who came to live with me in 2001, was the most loving pet I ever had.  So I guess I'd call myself a "cat person" because I had a very special "person cat" until she died last year.
2.  Who were the pets of your childhood, and what were they like?
When I was nine years old, a neighborhood boy and I were splashing in rainy puddles when a bedraggled kitten found us.  My mother said it looked like a drowned rat (well, mouse the kitten was very small), and Micky's mother wouldn't let him bring it into their house.  After due consideration, Mother decided to let me keep the kitten.  I named her Duchess, and she slipped right into our family like she had always belonged there and grew to be very regal indeed, a beautiful soft gray cat with white paws and a white spot below her chin that seemed to swing back and forth like a dog's tag when she walked.  Duchess had her first litter of kittens in the drawer on top of my socks and underwear it must have been the softest place available to her at the time.  When I was in high school, we rode the regular city buses to school and home again in the afternoon, yet Duchess was always at the bus stop to meet me.  How did she know which of the buses that ran every 20-30 minutes all day would be the one I rode?  I don't know, but her internal clock was set and there she was, waiting to walk home with me.  She was a special cat.
3.  What pets do you have now?
Because my roommate's cat Sammy will turn 18 tomorrow, I have not brought another cat into our home.  I'm afraid it would bother her too much, even though she pined for Kiki when she died last summer.  Sammy is skittish and doesn't like being petted unless she rubs against my leg first, and then I'm allowed only a short touch before she runs away.  She has become friendlier since Kiki died, however, and now comes to tell me "meow" when she wants food or somebody to clean her litter box.  That's real progress for a cat who was tossed out in a parking lot where my roommate worked Sammy didn't even know how to eat yet.  Donna had to mother her by giving her a bottle and later teaching her how to eat solid foods.
4.  Have you ever had any unusual pets in your household or visit your home?
It's been too long for me to remember the details about how and why we got a golden hamster, but I do remember Herman. He wiggled and squirmed and turned in our hands so much that one of my children said, "Herman, the Squirmin' German!" All three roared with laughter, and that strange moniker became his name. Since I was the one who spent the most time with him feeding him, cleaning his cage, giving him water, and trying to find him when he escaped he became plain ole Herman to me. Herman had a small wire cage with a rattling metal wheel that he would run in, frantically, rapidly, daily, hourly it seemed. The bottom of his cage was covered with cedar shavings, under which a hamster could sleep all covered and snug.

I don't have any photos of Herman, but this one from Wikipedia looks a lot like him.  He was a smart little fellow who knew if he tried long enough and hard enough, he could open the door of his cage. He would wiggle and squirm and chew and bite: ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chunk, ch-ch-ch-ch-chatter, ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chuck-chunk. And POP after awhile that door would open! He especially liked the corner behind the four-drawer file cabinet, though I can't imagine how he knew it was heavy and hard to move. Poke along the side with a broom handle, and he'd run behind. Poke behind the file cabinet, and he'd run to the side. Poke and prod long enough and Herman would make a mad dash to the sofa and climb inside from underneath. He had probably made the hole in the cloth as his escape hatch. Sometimes we could see him moving along inside the material, safe from us humans who really did NOT want to cut up the sofa and make him run for the other end. Eventually he would emerge, hours or days later, and someone would grab him. Sometimes he would choose to run around the cushions, and all it would take to catch him was a still hand waiting along his path. Soon he would dash right into the hand and be caught. And poor ole Herman went back to work: ch-ch-ch-ch-chuck-chunk, ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chu-chuck, ch-ch-chat-ch-ch-ch-thunk-ch-ch.

We had Herman during the time I was deciding whether I really wanted a divorce, a time when I often felt frustrated and overwhelmed. There came a day when I was sitting in the kitchen floor, leaned back against the cabinets, with one of the children saying something like, "It'll be okay, Mom." I was thinking about a husband, not a hamster, but I heard a suspicious sound: scritch-scratch-skitch. I shushed my child and said, "Listen!" Scratch-skritch-scrunch-scratch. Slowly, quietly, I leaned toward the corner cabinets and the sound was even plainer. Scritch-scratch. Uh-huh, in case you were wondering, Herman had been AWOL from his cage for several days. Scritchity-scritch-scratch.

I felt under the edge of the cabinet doors. A hole! There was an unseen opening in the corner where the cabinet makers had not entirely made everything fit together; after all, who would ever know, right? Who is likely to get down in the corner under a three- to four-inch toe-inset to check? A six-inch hamster, that's who! Slowly I opened the corner cabinet and reached around to discover a space between the dishwasher and the cabinet shelves. And there was Herman, who had happily settled in by bringing shreds of this and that to furnish his new home.

For an animal I never bonded with, Herman and I have a lot of history together. One night I was sitting in the den after everyone else had gone to bed. As usual Herman was fighting his cage door: ch-ch-chuck-ch-ch-ch-chunk-thunk. I was about as down as I'd been that summer, knowing that I had to leave that marriage, and there's that hamster, chewing like crazy on his cage door. Finally, I said softly to him, "What's your problem, Herman? We feed you, we exercise you, we give you plenty of water and sawdust and everything else you need. Why are you fighting so hard to get out?"

He kept trying to escape, ch-ch-chewing, ch-ch-ch-ch-chucking. And suddenly it hit me. Yes, it sounds like a cliche, but I was struck by the thought: We are just alike! I, too, have food and clothes and everything I need. I, too, am unhappy in my cage. Herman, I understand. I took him out of his cage and held him, though he still wanted to get away to some place nice, like that little cubbyhole in the kitchen.

Herman didn't have the option of divorcing me or leaving town or leaving his cage, for that matter. But I got him a big glass aquarium filled with cedar chips and more space to run. Umm, it didn't have a door, and the top had to be covered, but Herman had more room. And he never, ever (as far as I know) experienced anything like this:

Hamster Wheel Gone Wrong
If the video quits working, watch it on YouTube.

5.  What have you learned from your pets?  Give one recent example, if possible.
I've  learned they are a lot like people.  My Kiki cat could be quite adept at lying for a good cause, but sometimes we had to laugh at her.  When my roommate Donna would come home from work, Kiki would tell her she had not had her afternoon treats yet ... and Donna’s cat Sammy would come running to sit on the piano hoping Kiki could convince the human that they were poor, pitiful, starving kitties who never got their treats on time.  The only trouble with their scheme was that I was usually right there in the room.  Donna would look at me and say to Kiki, "But you already HAD your treats."  Kiki, the more talkative of the two, said plaintively, "Maiow mew mew."  Donna said, "Yes, you did."  Kiki replied, "Meow miahow mew!"  Donna says again, "Yes, you DID."  Kiki, "Meow miaow MEOW, myou."  They never seemed to notice that humans communicate with each other as well as with them.   Finally, Kiki would give up and plop in the floor with her back to Donna, and Sammy would sigh.
BONUS:  Pictures or anything else related to animals you love.
I think this post probably has enough photos along with that video to count as a bonus.

1 comment:

Helen's Book Blog said...

My best childhood pet was Marbles, the world's best cat. And we had a Norweigen Elk Hound named Sean. I am definitely a better pet owner now than I was then!