Tonight the cats are quiet. One of the members of our little community has passed away.  Our young Maine Coon, the little princess, had developed a problem with her lungs and her condition deteriorated quickly.   Her people were with her when she went to sleep.

The Little Princess

The Oak Court Cats knew that she was having problems and were very quiet today.  Before Little Princess left the house the others were sitting on the bed, all watching the door to the room where she was.

Earlier today she took a stroll out into the back yard, spending an hour out in the grass.  It’s as if she knew she was going to leave and wanted to take just one more walk.

The little princess was young, just about 3 and a half years old but had a good life.  The last year she spent here was a great year.  She had been an indoor cat until we first took her out into the yard last summer and let her roam.  She’d spend hours out there with the others, chasing bees, butterflys and the occasional bird who flew too low.  She’d sit under the tree as the squirrels ran around  and, frequently, right up to her.  She accepted them as members of the community and never gave chase.

Cold nights would find her buried deep under a blanket; warm nights would find her sleeping on the floor in the living room or back in one of the bedroom windows.

She wasn’t a lap cat but would settle down next to someone on the couch, just close enough to allow that person to stroke her fur, scratch her ears and her chin.  I don’t think she ever bit or clawed me, even at play.  Yes, she was a good cat and she’ll be missed.

Her brother, Fatty, is asleep on the bed tonight.  He has been very quiet tonight; I believe he knows she’s gone.  This is the first night in his life she hasn’t been near him; makes us all sad here on the Court.  Somehow he’ll get used to life without his partner, it’ll take some time but he’ll come out ok.  After all, he has his family here, on Oak Court.

So good night Little Princess, we’ll miss you.

We’ve had visits from the other furry inhabitants of the Court recently, the squirrels.  There are a number of  squirrels

One of the Oak Court Squirrels

that live in the pines around the court; probably more than the dozen we’ve been able to identify.   The cats are not too concerned about the squirrels, it seems.  One would think felines would attack (or at least chase) the varmints out of the yard.  The Oak Court Cats don’t chase them off; they don’t defend their territory at all.  They just sit there as the squirrels scamper around the yard.

I tried to figure this strange behavior out, googled a number of sites, asked my vet as well.  At one point I even contacted the county agricultural office to see if they could explain this behavior and was not able to get an answer.  On more than one occasion I was told “Cats chase squirrels”.    But they don’t.  At least here they don’t.

Now, the squirrels come here for a reason.  Peanuts.  We will occasionally toss them a peanut.  Now don’t go wild and call someone and complain; we toss out roasted but not salted peanuts only.  Don’t want to be accused of causing high blood pressure amongst the squirrel population.

This has gone on for a few years now and the cats get along with the squirrels; there’s been no attacks that we know about.

Lately we’ve noticed the squirrels have become a bit more aggressive.  2 of their community have been seen sneaking into the house, searching for the peanut stash.  One of them, probably the ring leader, actually climbed up on the sofa. (One of the cats was there and didn’t move at all). Others have taken to standing on the picnic table staring at the back door, sometimes standing on the back step, watching us as we walk around the kitchen.

I’ve been in the garage doing the laundry and have experienced that  feeling you get when you know you’re being watched.  Yes, a squirrel was be up in the rafters staring down at me.

Scene of the attack

It was inevitable, at some point they would attack the house and find the peanut stash.  A week ago they made their way in and found the peanut bucket.  I arrived home from work that evening to find the remains of a 2 pound bag of unsalted roasted peanuts scattered across the kitchen floor and a trail leading out the back  door.

You can’t seem them in the picture, the Oak Court Cats.  They were not there, anywhere.  As far as I know they helped the squirrels to the peanut stash, probably held the cat door open so they could come in  and make off with the nuts.

We’re a little more careful after this assault. The peanut stash is now kept behind a closed pantry door. We try to chase the squirrels away from the back when we see them begin to congregate.

Will this work? probably not.  The Oak Court Cats probably don’t see the squirrels as a threat.  After all, as one of the cat’s tried to explain, they eat peanuts and we don’t.

Nite.

It’s Labor Day on the Court. For the human inhabitants of the court, this is a day to sleep in, mow the lawn, go for a picnic or engage in some other family related activity.  For the cats, however, it’s not a regular day.  The Oak Court Cats are used to having people around for 2 days then the next 5 are quiet as we are off to work and school.  While I don’t think they can count the days, they are very much into the routines of our lives.

They appear to coordinate their morning schedule with my alarm clock and will be sitting patiently in the kitchen, waiting for breakfast, at 5:00 every morning.  They know that another round of wet food hits the bowls at 6:00 in the evening; several of the chowder will be sitting around the corners of the kitchen awaiting the splat sound when the Ocean White Fish and Tuna hit the bowl.  They are familiar with bed time, most of them going to their regular spots around 10:30, when the rest of the occupants of the house start to settle in for the night.  It’s all about routines.

So today I upset a few of them when I was digging around in the front closet for the flag.  I had help moving things around, lots of help.  Mid-morning I started cleaning out the vegetable garden.  Another questionable activity.  Didn’t I know this is their special place, where they spend hot afternoons sleeping in the shade of the tomato plants?  The Big Guy sat in the corner of the plot staring at me for an hour as I ‘clear cut’ the veggie forest.  I’m sure he’ll find some way to demonstrate his displeasure;  I must remember to check my shoes for hairballs before I put them on tomorrow morning.  I’ve disrupted their routine.

The Court’s quiet again; the peregrine falcons have moved on.  Most of the squirrels have returned although I’m pretty sure we lost a few of them to the falcons.   There is a new cat on the block; he’s shown some interest in the Court Cats, coming around this side of the court a few times to introduce himself.  Wonder when he’ll start coming in the cat door for a quick lunch with the rest of the cats?

Little girl stops to pay her respects to the flag.

Tomorrow it’s back to the routine where people run around for a bit, getting ready for work and school.  At 7:30 the house gets very quiet, as the people leave, and the cats settle down for the day.  Not sure what they do all day but it probably entails a lot of sleeping.  They’ll rest until 4:00 when people return and the house is active again.

The cat’s will go out on patrol a few times during the day.  With the trash pickup tomorrow I suspect they’ll want to get out early to investigate the various trash cans out on the street before the trucks come down the street. I don’t think they’ll hang around when the trucks show up however; they’ll probably be hiding behind the front curtains, waiting for them to leave.

Anyway, it’s almost time for their evening snack (another routine they’ve come to expect).

Nite

It’s already the 2nd week of August on the Court.  The cats are doing well.

The temperature has been running a few degrees cooler than normal.  The nights have been in the mid-50s and the days rarely over 82.  The Maine Coons have lost a lot of their heavy coats; Blutto looks to be half the cat he was back in January.

Missey isn’t a fan of the cool nights and spends her days sitting in a sunny window.  She celebrated her 13th birthday 2 weeks ago (I served up a dish of her favorite wet food for the occasion).  According to a chart that I found on the wiki, her age, in human years, is about 70. On the Court she is the Alpha; none of the other cats will cross her path nor will they disturb her when she sleeps.   Age has it’s privileges.

The sibling cats are doing well; the female spend her days outside.  Her territory covers includes our house as well as the neighbor’s houses on both sides.  She patrols from sunrise to sunset; coming in only to eat and drink.  Her brother, on the other hand, goes out into the back yard but doesn’t leave the back yard at all.

And Precious, her territory covers the entire court.  Of all the Oak Court Cats, she has the largest territory.  As the prominent hunter on the Court, she covers the most ground.

This summer we have some guests. A trio of Peregrine Falcons has settled into the tall pines up at the end of the block.  There’s a small park with a number of older pines and the 3 birds can be seen roosting on the higher branches or flying around the neighborhood.  The squirrels in our yard tend to be more cautious these days (Not sure but I think the squirrel population had been reduced a bit). More of them are coming into the back of the house when looking for handouts.  they used to stand on the picnic table and wait for someone to toss some peanuts out.  Now they come inside the back door, where the birds can’t see them and wait for peanuts.

Blutto sits on the sidewalk, in plain view, and stares at the birds as they fly around the back; it’s as if he’s telling them that this is his territory and they need to move on.  At his size and strength I would imaging it would be a good battle should one of the birds come down for a closer look.  Hopefully they won’t and life will go on.

Anyway, it’s late and the cats are settling in for the night.  I’ll post this and call it a day myself.

I work for a large telecommunications company and spend my days in a cubicle.  Today, however, I’m at home. The  office is moving and I’ve been asked to work remotely while they handle the logistics.  So I get to spend the day working at home under the watchful eye of the Oak Court Cats.

Instead of getting up at 5:20 I slept in until 6:20 (not having a commute and being able to have breakfast at the keyboard saves me an hour).  The cats made it clear that my extra hour in the sack was unacceptable and several of them came up on the bed to voice their displeasure.    Once up, fed them and went about my morning stretching and regular routines.  This was judged to be acceptable by the cats.

They were not at all happy when I set up the company laptop on the desk; after all this was where they would camp out in the morning (it sits int he southern facing window and gets a good amount of sun).  I’d work for a few minutes and one of them would climb up on the desk and attempt to push something out of the way. This went on for half an hour;  I gave up and moved to another location.

At one point I went to the kitchen for a 2nd cup of coffee; clearly not acceptable as my walking through the room disturbed the queen who had been sleeping on the floor, in front of the counter where the coffee maker resides.  No coffee for me.

I decide to go to the bedroom and use the writing table.  It’s not near a window so they shouldn’t complain about taking up a sunny window sill.  They follow me into the bedroom and assume positions around the room; some on the bed, others on top of dressers and closets.  Presently three of them are sleeping while the Predator stares down at me from the closet.  Seems they are taking turns monitoring my activities. Are they checking in with my boss?  Are they corporate stool pigeons, planted here to ensure that I worked the entire 8 hour day without taking time off to pick up a non-corporate task?

This is going to be a long day.  I’m already fighting to stay awake, a difficult task.  There must be some research somewhere that supports my theory that snoring cats will suborn any attempts to concentrate on anything other than sleeping.

Somehow I’ll make it, maybe that 4th or 5th coffee will keep me awake.  Maybe I should see if there are any of those 5-hour energy drinks in the fridge…

Later

The Oak Court Cats are not happy these days.  We’re experiencing our regular winter now (lots of cold days and plenty of rain).  This curtails the outside activity somewhat as the cats are not too fond of walking through cold, wet grass.

Normally the Big Guy heads out at 5:30 for an hour.  He patrols the neighborhood, checking to see if anything has changed overnight. Normally the neighborhood is unchanged and he’s back by 6:30. On Tuesday’s, however, he is quite busy examining the trash cans that are out at the curb; he makes it back around 7:30.

The others start to go out around 8:30 and spend the rest of the daylight hours either in the house (sleeping) or out in the yard, patrolling.

With the rain, there are changes. The Big Guy doesn’t head out at 5:30; he sits on the back steps and stares, forlornly, at the back yard.  No reason to go out there as the grass is wet and very cold.  He’ll come back in the house, have a bite to eat and occasionally drift out the back to see if the rain has stopped.

The others go out to the back step and settle down for a while, occasionally taking short walks down the sidewalk and quickly returning when they realize they’re getting wet. They then go in and find a quiet, warm spot, bathe and take a nap.

After a week of this tempers flare and they’ll occasionally swat each other.  The predator will sit on top of a cabinet or dresser and hiss at anyone who comes near.  Missey stalks through the house hissing at everyone else.  The cats, normally used to sleeping through the night are awake at all hours.  They start digging into the flower pots, pushing papers off the desk and, when they’ve run through the list of annoying practices one of them will toss a hairball.

They all slink off into different parts of the house at this point.  I’ll stand there and ask who the guilty party is.  I really think they understand me, or at least understand that after I see the mess they hear the loud voice then they get a dab of the petromalt on their paws. (Petromalt helps them pass the hairball normally). Needless to say they are not fans of the treatment.

Today, however, the Oak Court Cats were happy as we had sunshine.  It was still cold (the high was 56) but they were out in the yard all day.  There were squirrels to chase, bugs to swat at and birds to stalk.  The cats came in for meals then went right back out. They didn’t take time out for naps but were busy all day.

They came in around sunset,  had dinner followed by a good bath.  Right now I hear the Big Guy’s gentle snoring as he sleeps under the desk.  The predator  slipped under the blankets earlier and hasn’t stirred for a few hours.   The others are all sleeping in different places, exhausted by the day’s activities.

Tomorrow’s another day on the court and, hopefully, it will be sunny.  Big Guy will be out at 5:30  and by noon all the cats should be out in the yard sleeping in t he sun.  Hope the weather holds for a few days; nothing worse than depressed cats in the winter time.

Nite.

It’s mid January on the Court and it seems the cats are confused.  We’ve been experiencing warm weather with the temperature running 10 or more degrees above the usual 53 degree day time high.  When I say they seem to be confused, I mean they are starting to shed some of the winter fur.  This usually comes in March, 2 months from now.  Usually at this time of year they rarely go out and sleep most of the day.  This month they have been spending most of the day outside, coming in to for a quick meal and heading back out; behavior more typical spring time behavior.

The Big Guy has started to loose some of the golden mane he grew for the winter.  It’s still quite full but he’s lost some of the fur on the bottom of his neck.  The young female coon has lost some of hers, as well.  While these two have left a few clumps of fur on the carpet (and anywhere else they happen to be), the real problem is with the other Maine Coon.  He’s started to leave piles of fur everywhere.  We’re not talking about a few hairs here and there; we’re talking about clumps of fur.  I’ve probably vacuumed up enough fur in the last week to spin yarn for a sweater, a XXL cable knit sweater.

Because it’s warm out, the Oak Court Cats are spending more time outside.  There seems to be a direct relationship between the amount of time spent outside and the amount of food consumed.  As they’re more active, they are eating more.  I’ve been putting out 2 to 3 of the 5.5 ounce cans a day along with a pound of crunchie munchies.  A month ago the five of them last maybe half that much.

We’re watching the weather forecast closely as the warm weather is not going to last; we’ll be cold pretty quick and the cats will not be ready for it. They’ll be camped out around the heater again.   While I enjoy sharing my house with the cats, I’m not looking forward to the cold again and having to share my blanket with them again.

Later

It’s winter on the Court and the cats have adjusted to the cold weather.  The court is in the San Francisco Bay Area so our winter isn’t as bad as winter in Buffalo or Montreal.  For us a nightly low of 35 is miserable and a day time high of 55 is just about as uncomfortable as we want to be.  Winter discomfort  is relative to where you live.

The cats are as affected by the cold as we are.  Missey just doesn’t like to leave the bedroom during the morning hours; here she can crawl under the blanket and stay warm.  Ok, she’s getting on in years and, as an indoor cat, she doesn’t grow the thicker winter  fur anymore.  Precious the Predator doesn’t develop a thicker coat either and will spend her days under the same blanket as Missey.  I believe she left a wake up call for April 1.

The maine coons, however, seem to thrive in the cold.  The Big Guy’s mane is gold with black

The Big Guy's mane

stripes and is probably an inch longer than the rest of his fur.  It is also much softer than his regular fur, as well.  One of the other coons, a female, also has developed a mane this year.  She spend a few hours a day outside in the yard in the cold air and her coat is much thicker than it was in October.  The Big Guy spend quite a bit of his day outside and depends on the extra fur for warmth.  Come April, when he starts to shed, the house will be covered with hair.  I may just chase him around with a shopvac for a day or so to get most of the shedding over with.

The court cats spend their evenings on or under the bed covers, occasionally strolling about the house searching for something to ‘investigate’, like a shopping bag or a newspaper. Yeah, newspaper.  Seems they have taken to shredding it while tossing the pages around the living room.  Last week they went through the entire Sunday paper, including advertising supplements, in about an hour.

I’m looking forward to the warm days when I can toss them outside when the get the kitty-crazies again.  Until them I’ll put up with indoor games.

Later

It’s Christmas on the Court and the Cats are celebrating.

The pile of presents around the tree kept them pretty busy for the last few days.  Different scents from different packages have distracted them from their “normal” activities (sleeping, looking out the windows, eating and more sleeping).  The big guy takes an occasional pass at the pile of goodies, hoping to find a stray cat treat tucked into the corner of a present.  Sorry, I didn’t bury any treats, that’s Easter he’s thinking about.

Santa brought the cats a pound of catnip (that will keep them happy for a while). They also got a bag of those little toy mice to play with.  Precious snorts and walk away from the gift; she’d rather have a real one.

The newest members of the community have been staring at the tree for 2 weeks now.  Seems they have only recently been introduced to the outdoors and are still  not sure about the tree-in-the-house thing.  The others are used to the annual living room forest and are no longer interested in climbing the branches.

Missey, the senior member of the community, is not all impressed with the Christmas Morning bustle when we people tear off wrapping paper and leave a pile of gift-debris on the floor.  the others carefully inspect the paper pile, curiously sniffing each and every piece of paper, ribbon or box.  Missey watches the proceedings from the back of the sofa, sneaking the occasional glance out of the corner of her eye.

The people in the hose had a fine dinner; the cats shared a few cans of a ‘wet’ canned  food, the one with the pampered and finicky  white fluff ball in the ads.  (Ok, the Oak Court Cats have long been fans of  Friskies “Classic Pate Seafood” varieties).  It’s getting late now and the cats have started to settle in for the evening.  Missey is curled up on my pillow; Precious the Predator  is up on top of the cabinet.  The Big Guy is making himself comfortable on my grand daughter’s bed.  The new guys (brother and sister Maine Coons) are still prowling but are making their way to the back of the sofa where they can watch out the front window until they drift off to sleep.

So, the cats made it through Christmas; hope you had a good day as well.

Nite.

I left a note (last week) concerning the fate of the 2 “visitor cats”.  After  weeks of phone calls, e-mails and visits it was clear the cats didn’t have much of a future if they went back to the rescue center.  At 3 years old, the chances of being adopted are not all that good.  Unfortunately people like the kitties but don’t seem to be interested in them when they are older.

I asked the Oak Court Cats if they would accept the visitors as residents here on the Court.  I’m not sure what they really felt but the 3 of them stared back at me as if they understood what I was talking about.  I explained the problem and the alternatives the pair faced.  The Court Cats continued to stare at me, as if they comprehended.

Finally I finished and waited.

I don’t how they really felt, we never figured out the whole human/cat language thing.  The visitors, however, have a new home.  We (the people on the Court) decided to take them in.  They’ll learn the ways of the Court, learn how to go in and out the cat door, how to wake the old man up in the morning when there isn’t any crunchie-munchie mix in the bowl and, most importantly, they’ll learn not to chase the squirrels in the yard.

I’ll post a few pictures of the pride next week, trying to figure out how to get all  of to sit still long enough for a group photo.

Later.