Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Winter preparations

Tatum and Ursula, as indoor cats were experiencing the oncoming fall in rather second-hand manner.  The windows upstairs in Ande’s room were open all the time and the air conditioner was off, and that was about as close as they came to the great outdoors.  Tatum loved to sit on the window sill and smell all the delicious smells that came in: grass, leaf mold, pine trees and occasionally the scent of cooking meat from the next door neighbor’s barbecue.  

Both cats liked to sit in windows and watch the activities of the birds, animals and insects that lived in or visited the back yard.  The front windows weren’t as interesting, as mostly it was just cars rushing by at very fast speeds.  Recently they both had observed squirrels rushing around the yard carrying nuts.  Neither cat had any idea where they were getting the nuts, as they hadn’t seen any nut trees in the yard.  They knew from conversations that there used to be a walnut tree over the back patio that dropped nuts on people’s heads and a black walnut tree over near the Jones’ house, but both of them had been cut down years ago, as they had been sickly.  

This morning Tatum got up the courage to ask a squirrel why he was running around with all these nuts.  “Winter, got to prepare for winter,” the squirrel replied.  “If I don’t have a supply of nuts and seeds cached away I might not make it through the winter.  And if my mate has pups I’ll need even more, as I’ll need to feed her and the babies when they are old enough.  Oh, I need a lot more nuts!”  The squirrel ran off, nut in mouth, and Tatum sat back to think.

Last fall and winter he’d been at the SPCA.  He hadn’t come to live here until winter was nearly over.  Were there things he as an indoor cat needed to do to prepare?  Tatum decided to ask Ursula.  

“Hmmm, I don’t know, Tatum.  Last fall I was a very little kitten.  I was only born in summer, you know.  At this time of year I was just getting used to eating squishy food and drank out of my bottle.  But, if the squirrels are preparing for winter, we’d probably better do the same.”  Ursula ran off with her usual enthusiasm to start her preparations, without knowing exactly what they should be.  

Tatum was more of a thoughtful cat.  He liked to have a plan, rather than just running off at the first enthusiasm.  His first thought was to do some internet research, but Ande was playing a Van Morrison marathon on the computer.  He loved the music, but wished she’d get off so he do some research.  He couldn’t even use his beloved Daddy’s computer, as the noisy girl was using that one to play games.  Bowing to the inevitable, Tatum sat and swayed gently to the music, laughing occasionally when Ande started bopping around in her seat.  

Ursula walked past him into the kitchen and returned in a minute with her cheeks puffed out.  She gestured with her head for Tatum to follow her.  She led him into the living room and under the couch.  Ursula carefully spit out the crunchy food she’d been holding in her mouth and proceeded to cover it with a sock that had been lost under the couch.  “This is it, Tatum.  We’ve got to make caches of food all around the house, so that in winter we’ll have enough food!”  Ursula was proud of her idea.  “There’s room under this sock for more, and we can put it behind the dressers and in the back of the closets.  I think we could even fill up the humans’ shoes with crunchy food.”  

Tatum wasn’t so sure of this idea.  “Ursula, the reason the squirrel needs to hide his nuts is because it might snow and he can’t get to the food on the ground.  I don’t think it’s going to snow in our house, do you?  Did it snow in here last winter?  When it rains it stays outside unless Ande’s left her window open, and even then just a little gets in.  Besides, don’t you think that the noisy girl will feed us, even if it does snow?”

Ursula had to think about this for a minute.  She’d started on a course of action, and didn’t want to back down, but had trouble coming up with reasons for a minute.  “Oh, what if it snows so bad that they can’t get out to buy us more crunchy food?  Then we’d be could starve!  We have to put caches aside for times like that.   And I’d appreciate you not calling my dear, sweet Pikachu ‘the noisy girl’.  She’s the best person in the world!  She feeds me and lets me sleep in her room and snuggles with me as much as I want.”

Tatum had his own opinion on that, although she was the only person he’d let pick him up, but that was just because it was the only time she wasn’t being noisy and bouncy.  And she knew how to carry him nicely and put him down as soon as she got him wherever he was supposed to be going.  For a snuggle, he preferred Ande, but still she didn’t compare with his beloved Daddy who loved him more than anything in the whole wide world.  

“I don’t know about you, Ursula, but even crunchy food gets stale when it’s left out too long.  I think if you want to hide food, we should hide a whole bag.  That way if they run out of food, we can just eat from the bag, like we do sometimes when a whole bag is left on the floor instead of being put in that darn plastic container.”  Tatum nodded to himself and decided to carry out the plan immediately.  He’d noticed last night when Ande had filled the crunchy food bowl that there were two bags in the container, and one hadn’t been opened.  This would be the time to take it and hide it.  

It took Tatum a while to pry off the lid of the container.  He had to wedge both the container and himself so that when he pushed on it neither slid away, but finally the lid popped off.  Tatum jumped up on a chair next to the container and with supercat strength lifted the bag out and dropped it on the floor.  He then dragged it into the living room and under the couch to the corner with the little table.  No one bothered to go back here.  The table was wedged between the television and the couch, and it probably could stay under there for years without being found.  

Meanwhile Ursula continued to make caches, as she still thought they’d need more food, and she claimed she didn’t mind stale food, although Tatum thought she did.  Personally he just thought she was stubborn.  

Eventually Ursula tired of the exertion and flopped down for a nap.  Tatum also decided sleep was a good idea, and went upstairs to sleep on the very soft bed.  He was sound asleep when he was awakened by a yell from downstairs.  “Who the heck filled up my shoes with cat food?  Pamela!!!!!”  Tatum sniggered and decided to go back to sleep.  Let the noisy girl, or Pikachu, or Pamela, whatever her name was, take the blame for this one.  He did hope, though that no one would notice the missing bag.   

Photo courtesy of Rob Baldwin -

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