Friday, February 4, 2011

Fur Farm Fun

Years ago, I didn't like the idea of having a pet too much, just because of the hair shedding, litterpan duty and care required while the peeps are on the road to somewhere. I was right, for those very practical reasons, but wrong. When we met, Nancy had an elegant female feline named Moonshadow, who changed that. She was a sealpoint Himalayan, sure of herself and proud of her breeding and looks. During my initial interview as a possible keeper (or not), Moonshadow changed everything by hopping up on my lap, settling in, and giving me some affectionate licks. What I didn't know until later was that Ms. Shadow was very good at sizing situations and people up, and if she hadn't cottoned to me that would have been that. I owed her, and tried to take good care of her for the rest of her years.
Of course, everyone's children and pets are above average, but, honestly, some really stand out in the crowd. And that's what ensnares you; the great ones have irresistible quirks, personalities, and antics that make you glad to see them everyday. Moonshadow would only go around the perimeter of a room, never crossing in the open. She would disappear for a day or two into places only she could find, like through an opening in the attic floor (you'd hear her above the living room ceiling). There is a canned food named "Variety Platter" which was her favorite -- and we still use that term for a buffet or spread of snacks.
Missing the animal presence after she died, Zach and Nancy came home with a little dwarf rabbit he named Fluffy, which had the same coloration Ms. Shadow did. Little did I know that years of multiple rabbit infestation in our home would follow. I learned not to feed them dandelions from the yard (I thought it was clever recycling); diarrhea was the unfortunate result. And eventually I realized that they were not as particular about litter as cats, and now use junk mail paper run through the shredder, which goes into the compost bin after B.B. Bunny, the last of the long line, has made his considerable contributions.
B.B., in his almost ten years of life, has never been to the vet since his, ah, gender was altered. We've never had rabbits or cats outdoors; it's easier and cheaper, but the worms, fleas, ticks and weather stress is too hard on them. It may cost more to do the right thing, but you can't throw away your responsibility.
She didn't live long enough (female rabbits regularly fall prey to cancer), but Floppy, an all-black mini-lop, was very intelligent and had a bad-girl attitude you couldn't resist. We took her on rides into town when we had the convertible, and I'd sit on a bench along the main street with her ("nice rabbit!"). In summer, we'd take her to a big hill which she loved to scamper up, resting on the top finally, quite proud of herself. When I spied grandchildren around, I'd take her over and the children really enjoyed it. She loved the attention and gave them kisses.
Floppy and I would watch The X-Files together every Sunday night. I swear she was paying close attention. When she was done with that, she'd lean over and give my right thigh a bite. Every pair of pants, shorts and pajamas from those years has multiple holes in the right leg.
We got back into the cat business when two stray kittens showed up out back, six years apart. Gilligan, the senior one, has the longest white whiskers I've ever seen; he's reserved, polite and very well-behaved.
Coal-black Blackberry, seven months old now, is another story. I've had to move all the plants to the top of the entertainment center, the only place he can't get to. Several have gone on to their ultimate reward, whatever that is, due to his uncurbed enthusiasm. The months before he was old enough to have the front claws removed were not pleasant for either Gilligan's nose or my arms and legs. I went through a lot of stain remover to get the blood out of clothes.
He's calming down, and last week came up with a new antic that is not destructive but, rather, charming. At bedtime he curls up on the top of my head and starts the purr machine. His higher body temperature, silky fur and cat music are very soothing. He earns his keep just for that.
I have the time now to keep up with the vacuuming and litter pan maintenance, so the four of us spend the day together, falling into a comfortable routine. When a new bag or box shows up, it's exciting and must always be investigated and sniffed (no, not by me; haven't gone that crazy yet). I have no idea how they know exactly when 4:30, dinnertime, is; but they do have everything figured out.
Past, future and present are all the same for them; they enjoy whatever comes their way; they know that watching birds and jumping to catch bugs is real good fun. B.B. never tires of the same fare every day -- having consumed about 3600 carrots in his lifetime, he always looks forward to today's. As Zach perceptively observed about little Fluffy, "You gotta be your own bunny."


  1. It is surprising what we give up for the love of a woman. Maybe that is our own bunny?