The Catt Box

'Rock'...

And my fond memories of him

 

 

Several years ago, in May 1998, I was sitting out on the front porch of the house and writing in one of my journals. My black cat 'Rock' was right under my bench....he was never far from me, when he was home. He was a great cat. And he preferred the great out-doors, as opposed to being an inside cat. He watched the roads and owned the neighborhood. Rock was definitely a 'man's cat'....

Rock was about eight years old at the time. He had never known 'wine, women, or song'....he was neutered. Rock was my very first surgery and I neutered him myself when I worked at the animal clinic...under the vet's supervision, of course. And I still have the little 'trophies' to this day. I wanted to neuter him before he began to spray and breed so, at seven months old, the impending problem was nipped in the bud. 

However, this did not take the fight out of Rock...there was nothing he wouldn't fight...and he would chase a  stray dog that wandered through the yard in a heartbeat. Rock was very muscular...built like a Pit Bull...and it was among the first things that people noticed about him....his size and his muscles.  Sad to say, July 1998 was the last time I ever saw him....a pack of stray dogs did him in. Don't even get me started on stray dogs...

Rock was a wonderful hunter....he would catch snakes and let them lay outside for a day or two and then he'd eat them. And he did eat his kill, always. We liked to call him 'the big game hunter'. And then there were the times he'd come home, usually at night, with 'live' animals. He'd have this special 'meow' that he would do when he wanted us to open the front door and see what he had. And right about the time you would open the door he'd bolt through with his 'live' prey and let it go into the house. 

Oh, the times we chased chipmunks, flying squirrels, baby bunnies, rats, and moles.....he seemed to really enjoy watching Les and I desperately trying to catch these terrified, and often angry, creatures.

On this particular day, in May 1998, I glanced over and saw the entrails of 'who-knows-what' lying on the door mat. I had no clue what he brought home and ate during the night. Rock was sleeping and I went into deep thought of what his nights might be like...or his days, or his thoughts. I had the music playing in the house and wondered if cats listened to it...I mean, I know they hear it, but do you think they mentally respond to it?....."oh, no...not that song again...." or are they really that indifferent to it?

Did Rock ever go down ol' memory lane and ponder on great fights he's been in, or how he out-smarted a rabbit? How about the one-who-got-away? Did he ever give another thought to the animals that slipped away?

Did Rock ever plan his hunting trips? There were times he stayed at home for days.....and never went outside. Then there were those times that he just had to get outside. Did he go out one day and happen onto a nest or something and plan to return? I wonder if he ever planned to go out hunting, saw another male cat instead, ended up in a fight, and then thought of how all of that just blew his plans to hunt. 

Did he ever try to catch an animal, totally miss it, and then get angry at himself for being clumsy? Did he sit somewhere and 'play it back' in his mind....realizing where he messed up.....thinking he was slow, or that he didn't put enough effort into it...examining what went wrong? Did he think about ways he could improve and then put that thought into action? Did he ever think...."Man, I'm good!" I mean, there has to be things they do to sharpen their hunting skills....that's why older cats are so much better at it.

Do you supposed that Rock ever found out about cat sex and wondered why he didn't do that? Maybe he thought that there was something wrong with them...'unnatural cat acts'....'freaks'....but did he feel left out?

Did Rock ever reflect on his little 'kitten-hood'....feel silly or stupid about his past? Did he even remember it? What did he think of other kittens when he saw them....did he think they were silly and had a lot of growing up to do? Was he ever amused at things? Do cats have a sense of humor? What is their equivalent of laughter, if they have one?...do they think anything is funny?

Late at night, for reasons we don't understand, Rock would go to my crochet basket and get large balls of yarn out, put them in his mouth, and carry them around from room to room...and he would be meowing the entire time...muffled meows through the yarn balls.....and he would insist on waking Les up while he did it....why? What on earth did this mean? How did he come up with this one?....What would make a cat decide that getting a yarn ball in his mouth and meowing through it would be a good idea?

And it just don't get any better than this....a long time ago we had cleaned the fireplace out, back when we had the farm....and we kept a huge copper pot beside the fireplace for the ashes. We could put a lot of ashes in it before having to empty it. Well, one night we had gone out and forgot to let Rock out....we didn't have his litter box prepared. When we got home we discovered that when Rock had to relieve himself, he went in the ash bucket. What a good boy! Now that's clever. And one other time, during a similar incident, Rock went over the drain in the bathtub. You gotta love a cat that will do that!

There were times, on occasion, when I would acquire stray kittens and have to find them homes. They were here on a temporary basis, but that didn't make Rock like them any better. He had no patience for kittens. However, if the kittens were here for more than a day or two, Rock would bring home his 'kill' and give it to the kittens. He didn't want them near him...and he did it reluctantly, but he did it...as though it were his duty. 

How did he know that it had to be done...that a mother cat would do this to introduce hunting to the young? And a mother cat will, at first, bring home a completely dead animal. The next time or so, she will bring home one that is 'half alive'....and give it to the kittens. It still had some 'play' in it and this is another teaching technique of mother cats. How did Rock know to do this....and do it just like a mother cat would? How did he know to take on the responsibility himself?.....didn't he think I was capable of going out and killing a mouse or a mole all by myself?

Yes, I do think of things like this when I'm watching my cats...even today. And even if you know the answers to some of these questions, don't tell me....I kinda like the mystery!

April 29, 2000 Copyright Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander