Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Of cats and dogs

We have a visiting cat. Apparently he started coming around while I was at Clarion South. He's a handsome fellow, with a black Batman's mask on a white face and beautifully balanced black and white markings over the rest of his body. The only thing that mars him is that the black patch under his chin extends on one side up to the corner of his mouth. We wondered for a while if he was a stray because he spends so much time in our yard but he has acquired a fancy red and white collar with Phoenix and a phone number written on it so apparently he has a home. He also has (although I'm betting his family doesn't know it) a number of other meal providers including my neighbours and, I'm sorry to say, us. This is because Virgo was convinced he was starving - and he certainly was skinny - so she felt obliged to feed him to protect the large number of honeyeaters, wattle birds, willy wagtails and doves we encourage around the garden.
And Phoenix is good. He creeps across the garden every centimetre saying "Excuse me. I don't mean to intrude but seeing I'm here I wouldn't say no to a snack." Then when a handful of cat biscuits are produced and consumed there is much rubbing around legs accompanied by plaintive little mews as if to say "Thank you so much. I really do love you. You can pick me up if you like." and, of course, Virgo does just that while Phoenix smooches and purrs.
All this is, of course, very disturbing to Jaz, because she's about the same size as the cat. She vacillates between "Gotta get rid of the cat. Let me at him." and "The cat's looking at me and I don't like it." which is usually followed by "I think I'll go back inside now."
Cadillac, on the other hand, is an inside cat and generally speaking not the heroic type. He usually runs for cover whenever he hears the door bell and doesn't emerge until the visitors have left. When Jaz first arrived Caddy was so horrified that he headed under my bed where he remained except terrified forays for food and to use his tray for over two months. Finally we lured him out with a pheromone diffuser which was almost as disturbing as him living under the bed. He just sat swaying in front of the diffuser, eyes glazed, while we gradually weaned him off it.
So it was something of a surprise yesterday when Cadillac, ensconced on his favourite chair under the family room table, decided enough was enough and started to growl at Phoenix. The growling grew louder and then he started hissing and spitting. This is not quite as brave as it sounds because he was hidden by the table cloth and peeping from under a lifted corner of it. Phoenix crouched outside the door and hissed back. This sent Caddy, fluffed up to twice his normal size, racing for cover under the dining room table at the other end of the house where he pretended it had never happened.
But today Cadillac defended his territory again from the same vantage point. This time he didn't run away. Maybe he has decided it's time to assert himself at last.

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