Sunday, December 1, 2013

December, and Outdoor Cats

Happy December! Christmas trees and lights are already appearing in windows and yards, and our three Advent calendars are on display in the living room, awaiting their first cat attack.

Tomorrow through Thursday, I will be decorating wreaths with the Garden Club of the Back Bay, as I do every year. This always puts me in the Christmas mood, while wrecking my hands and making me secretly a nervous wreck that I won't do a good-enough job. The proceeds from our hundreds of gorgeous, put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame creations goes toward caring for the neighborhood's trees and other projects. I will be posting photos of my wreaths here, mainly as a record. Before I began taking pictures, I'd come home at night unable to remember a single wreath I'd decorated before the last one — five or more wreaths and hours of effort would have vanished in the dusty attic that is my brain. I guess that's what happens when you're "in the zone," or "using the right side of your brain." Whatever. It's annoying, when you snap out of it, so I document everything now.

In the meantime, here are some gorgeous outdoor cats that we've met in the past week. This big gray and white one lives in Belmont. We saw him, called to him, and he came trotting across the road, meowing, to rub against us. Picking him up was no problem. The tag on his collar said he is Gribonville, or something close to that. I think it is a French name; his owner has a French name, too. He looks very French to me, with his long, distinguished nose:

I think he and Possum would get along smashingly.
I didn't detect any foreign accent when he meowed.

I'm always astonished to find that people let their cats outside, forgetting that I did this until I moved to Back Bay from a woodsy suburb and lost my first kitten named Harris on Exeter Street. I just feel that we all should have evolved as cat owners over the past 30+ years since then. We now have studies that prove that outdoor cats don't live the longer, healthier lives that indoor cats do. We have vets and shelters that advocate for keeping cats safe inside. We have more cars and at least as many crazies in our neighborhoods. And more and more of us are learning that it's not that hard to make our cats' indoor environment stimulating enough — with cat (or dog) companions, regular playtime, high perches, changes of toys, cat grass, and so on — so they never miss being outside.

I'm always most amazed that people let really friendly cats go out. M. Gribonville seemed ready to move in with us soon as we met each other. I'd be terrified my cat would end up going home in a car with some admiring stranger. (That's what happened to my kitten all those years ago on Exeter Street, or so I heard months afterward. I had already learned the hard way. At least I learned.)

The two cats below were both in the yard of a Somerville house and were much cagier. They wouldn't come near us, although this Maine Coon type was happy to strut, preen, chatter, and tease us from a safe distance:

Her companion was less of a show-off but just as much of a knockout, in a Possum-y way:

I dream of having a little courtyard surrounded by high brick walls or a little garden with a very tall fence that's set deep into the ground, so our cats can go out safely with us, to sleep in the sun or catch bugs. Maybe 2014 will be the year (since 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 were not). I know for sure that I will never let one of my cats out to wander the streets, no matter where we live.


  1. I'm terribly afraid Monsieur Gribonville (with his long, Possum-like nose) would absolutely have needed to come home with me. The only thing that would have stopped me is that he appears very well cared for (extremely clean, brushed, no "goopy eyes", had a collar & tags). In fact, as clean as he looked, I might have considered contacting his owner, just to make sure he hadn't escaped and gone walk-about without permission.

  2. We used to live in the top floor of a house and had a full roof deck that our cats patrolled for invaders. They loved it although I was less thrilled when they brought their playmates inside (particularly the bat and the whatever it was bug that seemed as big as their heads).


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