Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear Fellow Felines:
I don’t know about you, but I for one am very sad to see the end of summer. I had so much fun at camp, going fishing with a few of my pals, hanging out at the pool and going to the zoo. Speaking of the zoo, I saw lions, tigers, bears, and a beautiful 13-year-old, 28-pound Ocelot. She sure is enjoying life in captivity. So now I’m wondering: is your most esteemed Tortie also living in captivity?
If my life over here at For the Love of Cats is a form of captivity, then I insist on living here for the remainder of my days. You can’t imagine how much love, respect, food, and lavish attention I get. And we all know how much I like being the center of attention – and getting my three squares a day! And best of all, my staff of eighty (the volunteers who help me run the joint) is always watching my back. Sometimes they are watching my back too diligently and I have a hard time stealing food from the kittens. On the subject of stealing food, I am so very proud of myself. I convinced the kittens in the shelter’s small romper room to spill their dry food bowl the other day; and boy, did I ever have a field day. But alas, I’m now paying the price for this escapade; my food allergies have kicked in and my tail is now naked. As our shelter founder Jan Rich put it, “Naomi is just way too smart for us poor ill equipped humans!”
But in all seriousness, there are many dangers to a free-range lifestyle. Take the front door. Did you know that the number one way cats get lost is by stealthily slipping through an open door? You know how it is; your staff throws a holiday party, or a party for absolutely no reason at all; lots of people are coming and going through the front door. After a soda water or three, people forget that we’re stalking them for that one sliver of opportunity to make a mad dash for it. And then opportunity presents itself and out we go; bye, bye kitty. I, for one, thought that when the guests started leaving, that meant I was also free to leave.
But do you know what really happens when you give your folks the slip? That’s right, they are paralyzed with fear. They get that sinking feeling that maybe one too many guests have left; and then it hits them: “Where’s Naomi?” Is she hiding under the guest room bed, in the darkest corner of the walk-in closet? Deep down, however, they know the truth: sweet Naomi has given them the slip. After a few days on the lam, I decide to put them out of their misery and come back home. Besides, I’m pretty hungry because I have no clue how to stalk and strike prey.
Once one of us wayward cats returns home, we decide to point out all of the other dangers we live with. Let’s say gramps is napping in that big, old, overstuffed recliner. He abruptly awakens in the middle of a fishing nightmare, you know, the one about the trophy sized grouper that got away; he snapsto startled attention, and slams the recliner shut and flies out of his chair. Meantime, poor little me is sound asleep under said recliner. I let out a hair-raising scream and limp away with a crushed leg and broken toes. Or how about this scenario. The visiting grandparents accidentally drop one of little Tommy’s attention deficit disorder pills on the floor. Then me, thinking it’s a special treat, pounce on it and wolf the pill down in one swallow as if it was my last meal. And guess what? It could very well have been my last meal, unless my human notices my stranger than usual behavior and whisks me off to the pet hospital.
Now this next one is sneaky: mom is sewing on buttons, darning socks, and knitting little Tommy yet another pair of socks (who needs wool socks in southwest Florida?). All kinds of dangerous, but yummy looking objects form a tempting puddle in front of grandma’s rocker: thread, pins, needles, buttons, even a couple of pieces of yarn. Oh, I almost forgot: there’s a trillion colorful beads on the floor too. The yarn and thread can suffocate me if swallowed, thus necessitating emergency surgery. As mom hears me gagging, she rocks forward to see what’s amiss and inadvertently crushes my toes. Ouch! The other craft supplies gracing the floor will cause me severe indigestion because they looked so mouth-wateringly tempting. So here we go again: your most esteemed Tortie (me, Naomi) is once again whisked off to the vet.
Then, yet another disaster strikes. Amidst all of the chaos, dad doesn’t double check the carrier door, it swings open, and I’m off to the races. Now a massive Naomi-hunt is launched, posters are distributed, vets and animal shelters are queried; even the police get involved. And from my hiding place, I can’t help thinking how dangerous it is living with humans. I ruminate on this fact for a couple of days, then make a nonchalant return home. I don’t get a lecture because it wasn’t my fault, but I sure get a great homecoming party. Now I know better and beg my humans to take better care of me, because living in their world is like camping in a mine field.
I don’t have a ton of space left here so let me give you a quick rundown on the other live-mines sprinkled about on the battlefield that is life with people. Avoid pool covers – I know you think cats can walk on water, but we really can’t; the loop cords on window blinds; plastic bags, please don’t eat these; nor should you ever go into an open refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher; and please avoid the clothes dryer, no matter how great you think that sauna will be for your stiff joints.
One last warning: humans rarely look down when they walk so you may get kicked or stepped on from time to time. A good hiss should remedy this problem.
So there you have it fellow felines: Naomi’s survival guide for living with humans.
Until next time,
Love, kisses, nips, and purrs!
Naomi is a 4 year old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com