Free Range Cats - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
I’m sure people are outraged by this, but we let our cats roam free. In Vermont that meant lots of sappy pine needle encrusted dreadlocks. It also meant catamounts. In the 18 years I lived in Vermont with between 1 and 4 cats we lost 2 full cats and one cat tail to predators. If we consider the tail .20 of a cat we can calculate a rate of .12 cats/year. Which if you have an overweight cat might be a very good thing. I joke. There are risks to outdoor cats, cars, critters and here in Denver, evil utility workers. The other morning I saw a gas line maintenance crew approach my cat who thought she was invisible in our garden. He took two steps into our flower bed and leaned down to pet her. From my vantage place across the street at the beginning of my walk I called out “she bites.” But before he acknowledged me she had bitten him. So he kicked her. Her biting has been around since kittenhood, and I have never had another cat that bit, even in play. This one bites as a warning and it is really more than a nip than a bite, she has never left a mark. It is surprising though, because most cats react to a gentle pet on the head with a purr or an escape. Assuming you don’t touch its ears which might merit a full shaking off of your offensive hand. She does none of those, grabbing those friendly fingers with her teeth and nipping. I have wondered if this habit should make us keep her inside. I wonder about spreading a fear of cats to the neighborhood kids. Now I also wonder about spreading a fear of utility workers to the neighborhood cats. Which might serve them well. We talked about it at family meeting and no one seemed on board. They enjoy it when she comes to the tennis court, romps around the field and climbs trees with them. I can only assume from the time she spends at our door begging to go out each day that she would agree with the males of our household. So the only effort I made to controlling her outdoor habits was keeping her in around school pick up and drop up. We live on the same corner as the school and it gets crowded with kids and cars at 8am and 3pm. The rest of the time our neighborhood is empty. This afternoon didn’t go as planned. Leo, who stayed home sick today, followed me out to the adirondack chairs in our shaded front lawn. He carried and ice water for us to share as well as some huge rainbow knitted scarf that he uses sometimes as a whip and sometimes as adornment. His hands were full and thus the front door was open. When the school bell rang we went to cross the street and the cat came with us. I picked her up ...
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