Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The world according to Phoebe and Monica

A few months after my house was built and I was living here, it occurred to me that my cats "own" this house more than I do. Really, they spend way more time here than either my husband or I. We are both gone for a good part of most days, but they are here 24/7.

I am one of those owners who keeps my cats indoors. I know this is controversial, but they do say that indoor cats live longer than outdoor ones. Also, we do live on a very busy street and our neighbors have dogs. The most outdoors we want them to have is on our screened porch, where they are seen in the picture, plotting their escape. Monica (she is the bigger, lighter colored one) is secretly quite content with this arrangement. The few times she has gotten the notion to go out the front door, she has never wandered far. And she puts up no fight when we pick her up and scold her. Phoebe is a different story.

Phoebe is always plotting her next escape attempt. (Sometimes we find scraps of paper with elaborate diagrams of the house with telltale catfood crumbs attached.) The two of them were rescued as kittens from a life of homelessness, but Phoebe has never forgotten those wild days of her youth. She thinks that she knows the ways of the world and can take care of herself. Anyway, from time to time Phoebe does manage to get outside and it is always a prolonged, laborious process to get her back inside. She is very skilled at maintaining a distance of about 10 feet while slowly exploring all of the yard and occasionally venturing close to the fence with the gaping hole in it.

But we know that she really doesn't want all that freedom. How do we know this? From two different incidents. The first one happened almost two years ago. We let the cats on the screened porch not realizing that the door wasn't latched. After a while, we discovered Monica meowing and glancing worriedly at her sister in the neighbor's yard. Phoebe had climbed the chainlink fence and was now panicking, unable to figure out how to get back. Denis eventually had to climb over and lift her back over. She was very grateful at the time. The second incident occurred this past summer. Phoebe got out and played her usual game of "catch me if you can". But this time she actually did go through the hole in the neighbor's fence to do some exploring. She was gone for about 5 minutes and then came racing back through the fence and hid under a bush. We may never know what trauma occurred out there and she's not talking. Unfortunately, we are pretty sure that she will not remember that she really wants to stay inside.

1 comment:

mom said...

hDear Tracy: this is your Mom, and I loved the story of Monica and Phoebe, my grandkitties. You forgot to mention how we all have to crack open the door as we are trying to enter, to see if Phoebe is waiting for "her chance" to scoot out.