If you were on the edge of your seat, I would like to begin this post by reassuring you: Yes, the new chicks have made it (so far). We even survived the uprising of the kitchen when one tough guy figured out how to get through a crack in the cage and subsequently informed his loyal followers. I opened the door and was bombarded by pooping, screaming, chicks.
We have to be careful that the feral cats don’t eat them for lunch (see below for more details on them), but aside from that it’s been smooth sailing. I’m glad I was able to calm your worries. The chicks are amusing, but there more animals around the property besides them, and it’s unfair that they have been in the limelight so much.
Son, not Sun
The first day I stayed at the house, I was greeted by a fat, lazy, slobbery white Labrador named Son. Son and I later developed a love-hate relationship, where I feel bad that no one cares about him but at the same time I can’t deny the fact that he is also very bothersome.
He has a habitual sad look in his eyes that is emphasized when he watches us eat dinner through the enormous glass doors that surround the kitchen. He is not allowed inside the house. First, because he pees everywhere, and second, because they view animals as unclean creatures that belong outside.
Unfortunately, he’s often the butt of the joke. For example, “Well, we bought Son to accompany the grandmother but look at how stupid he turned out. He’s not worth much.” And the minute I think, “No, he’s so much more than that!” I am convinced otherwise when he follows me when I try to do Zumba outside and he pounces on me and prevents any workout from taking place.
Once, I thought I outsmarted him. I took my yoga mat up to the roof and began Dustin’s 45 minute ButtKickin’ Power Yoga Flow (thanks for introducing it to me, sister). I was on my second downward dog when I was attacked by heaving panting and paws slapping my ass. You would have thought he was watching too much rap videos.
He steals anything from shoes, socks, to the girl’s school uniform if left unattended. You try to sneak outside to sit in the sun on the patio for a moment, and seconds after you close your eyes you are surprised by a long tongue caressing your legs.
Like I mentioned, very bothersome.
That Darn Cat?
That same day I arrived at the house, I was also greeted by what would become my greatest enemy of the house: a gang of feral cats. As I walked through the patio from the laundry room that connects to the garage to the main house, I was taken aback by the various pitches, lengths, and volumes of “meows” that vied for my attention. I counted 17 cats. SEVENTEEN. They come close, low to the ground, then pounce backwards as if they were in an action movie. They lurk above the patio on the flat roof and watch you like you’re about to throw the first punch. Sometimes they just lounge while banging their tail on the tiles and casually meow like you’re their waiter at the Ritz Carlton.
I said to the girl, “Wow, you have a lot of cats. Do you have names for all of them?” to which she quickly replied, spurting out several names like “princess,” “gypsy,” “furry” – which turned out to be complete lies. At the time, the fact that they were wild was an important detail I was unaware of.
One quickly figures out that said cats are not domesticated, and in fact, feral when an attempts to get close to them end up in a shrill winning that sounds like a baby being thrown out a window.
Daytime consists of being closed in by several cats, being literally catcalled, and watched by big brother feline. I recently tried to eat lunch outside. I was relishing my pasta and meat sauce when one cat approached. Then two, then three, then four. Soon at least 10 were circling the table, jumping on the chairs…taunting me relentlessly. I finally gave up and ran inside after beings scared shitless by long haired black cat hissing from three inches away from my right ear.
Nighttime, nonetheless, is a different story. Walk out of your room onto the patio and in the darkness see 20 pairs of glaring glow-in-the-dark eyes watching your every move. Trying to leave to go out (I hope I wasn’t going to Pacha), and being delayed twenty minutes by trying to help one of the long haired brown furred cats get its head out of a tin can it was stuck in. It had taken me a while to figure out what the banging sound near my car was. I found the light switch, turned it on, and wasn’t sure to laugh or feel bad for the little guy who was roaming around with an old canned corn on his head. Confusing me with another enemy trying to steal his food, the twenty minutes were occupied by his/her wails making me cringe and quick steps to the right, left, front and back. By the time I set him free my hand was bloody from the slice of the can. I might have even got bitten. The cat didn’t even say thank you. So ungrateful.
(It’s a common scene to come home or conversely wake up to garbage strewn out in the garage or on the patio. Feral cats have to eat something…)
I can’t even imagine the personalities David Sedaris could create with their audacious personalities.
Deep into the night is even scarier. Often I’m woken up by the same shrill baby sound, and when fear descends on me I am again reminded of the jungle that is my casa de campo. Sometimes different bands of wild cats have territorial battles on my roof. It sounds like a WWE match happened live above my head. Either big steroid-filled men, or wolves throwing each other on the ground. I wonder if they finish off the carcasses before daylight.
In the Time of Luna and Russell
The cats in our house weren’t always feral, however. For a short six weeks the mother toyed with the idea of having domesticated cats live with the girl. Animals bring her happiness and purpose, so the mom believed it would help her low self-esteem.
One day in November, the cousin brought two adorable gray and white striped kittens home. They were just bigger than my hand. The girl was delighted. She named them Luna and Russell. I was about to ask her why when she beat me to it: “Don’t ask me why, Allison, because I don’t know.”
At first it was all fun and games. They were cute. They were clumsy. Their meows were soft and precious reminders that the world is a beautiful place. They were learning what life was, they were excited by everything, and the cuddled with you whenever you wanted (my allergies prevented me from indulging in this).
After three short weeks, I began to daydream and entertain myself with fantasies of getting rid of them…. If you catch my drift. The honeymoon stage sure ended quickly.
Imagine that having Luna and Russell in your presence was like having Son interrupt your yoga session with ass slaps every day, all day.
“You’re late for work? Don’t care. I’ll make your journey with hot tea impossible by stepping on your toes and making you trip and spill it all over you.”
“Oh, you want to have a private English class in the kitchen? I’ll make sure to run in as soon as the door opens and shit all over your whiteboard.”
“What? You don’t love the smell of our feces all over your things? Gosh, you can’t appreciate the vanguard these days.”
“You like to sleep at night? I’m going to make that impossible by scratching at your wooden door until 6am and meowing until you give me food or let me make a beeline for your bed.”
“Did you want that food you just made and placed on the counter? Because if you don’t mind I’ll jump on the island and begin to lick your toast and jam. No, calm down, Allison. Just a taste.”
And many more. I was done. I didn’t think they were cute. I despised their privilege and attention.
Once they got big enough, they joined the rest of the association of wild cast. But we always knew they were different. They were once house cats. They came from luxury; these feral cats could never understand what it was like. The brother and sister duo mostly stuck to themselves, climbing trees with their growing claws, hopping like bunnies through the tall grass, watching the girl and I play basketball or tennis. You understand, civilized activities.
Lucky for me, I got home from school one day and realized I wasn’t being bothered. I knew something was up. I asked the mom, “And the annoying little twats?”
They had been taken to “another home.” She begged me to lie to the little girl and say they joined the rest of the band of wild cats who had migrated to the neighbor’s house. They found out she was giving away spoiled paella. While it took her a few days to find out, and subsequently a few weeks to recover from the emotional damage, they are now a distant memory. Once and while she’ll make references to the happier times…back when they were balls of fluff and not raging maniacs.
Wait, There’s More
The most entertaining part about living in the house, aside from the grandmother, are the many precocious creatures who inhabit, or rather, invade it. And Son and those cats aren’t the only ones.
The nighttime is also filled with the cawing of a bird similar to that in the movie Up, and often I am confused as to whether or not sirens are sounding, someone is breaking into the house, or if it’s just that same bird again.
Then there are the frogs. The frogs weren’t such a problem until the weather started getting warmer and they started the mating process. Behind the main house there is a small retention pond, where over the course of the last month has gone from empty to completely taken over by an estimated 30-40 frogs. Jumping on each other, splashing, and producing minnows like there’s no tomorrow.
Living the same lifestyles as those damn cats, the frogs have a pretty hectic daytime schedule. But my god, they are also busy at night. Their ribbits are so deep it sounds like it’s magnified like a David Guetta show at Pacha.
Wait, you thought roosters only crowed at dawn? THINK AGAIN. They crow all damn night.
That is considering, however, that in my typical sleepy state every small noise feels much louder than it actually is. One might consider this entire post an over-dramatic fabrication of an insignificant detail.
But alas, this is my life now.