Friday, December 30, 2011

The Seasonal Cat

For 8 months out of the year, I'm only on feeding terms with one of my cats. Magic is more than happy to let me scratch his back for a few seconds in return for his breakfast and supper, but getting him to spend any more time with me during the warmer months is almost impossible. He hangs out under the porch and sleeps in the bushes under the dining room window. He takes naps on the seat of one of the porch chairs and goes off alone on frequent hunting trips, returning occasionally with a mouse or swallow.

The other two house-dwelling cats have an uneasy truce with him. There is much hissing and growling through the office window whenever Callie or Orion spots Magic lounging on the deck or in his chair. When the cats do have one of their infrequent meet-ups outside, they spit and swipe at one another, though thankfully there hasn't been any out-and-out combat.

Magic is, of course, neutered. And as the house sits about 1/4 of a mile off the quiet country road I'm not worried about him getting anywhere near traffic. Besides, he's pretty much spooked by anything that moves, so I trust him not to try to make friends with hungry coyotes. It's not that he can't come in -- I have two doggie doors, one of which is open 24/7. No, he just prefers to keep to himself and live up to the stereotype of the totally aloof cat for those 8 long months.

Once the temperature starts dipping below freezing, though, Summer Magic disappears and Winter Magic arrives to take his place. Winter Magic is a house cat who can't be enticed outside even on mild winter days. Winter Magic does his best to avoid Callie and Orion the first week or so after he moves in, during which time there is much hissing and spitting and swipe-taking that happens neither outside nor through the window. While they never fully accept one another, Callie and Orion eventually and grudgingly come to tolerate the interloper.

For his part, Winter Magic naps in one of the spare rooms upstairs and takes his meals downstairs in the dining room. He meows pathetically in the kitchen for me to hurry up while I'm preparing his royal feasts and demands I lift him up to the window sill where he can gnosh without being challenged by the other cats.

Winter Magic even plays. His favorite game is dunking the plastic ring off a milk jug into the water bowl, retrieving it out of the water, then starting all over. Most wonderfully, Winter Magic at night snuggles up in bed and snoozes away with the rest of us, purring in my arms.

Who is this Winter Cat and where does he come from? Selfishly, I wish he would stay and not, like Frosty, come spring simply melt away.

Do any of you have a seasonal friend?


lexcade said...

Aww, what a cutie pie! We never really had many seasonal animals. Any that took up residence at the Peace household tended to stick around. We became the dumping ground for unwanted pups lol. Wouldn't trade any of them for the world.

Jo-Ann said...

Woah! Magic's got it figured out, hasn't he? He's the tough wild beast over summer, and the pampered puss during winter. I'm surprised the other two haven't seen the merit of such a scheme and copied him!

My cats would love to indulge their tiger fantasies, as they desperately try to spend summer nights outdoors, but as the local by-laws mandate cats being shut indoors between 6PM and 6AM, we have to outsmart them and lock them up as soon as they've come in for chow (whch means only feeding them once daily, in the evening - cruel us).

One wily puss sometimes magages to stay out - I think she sometimes catches her own dinner and therefore doesn't have to come home for a feed. She might end up on the wrong end of the ranger's net.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@lexcade: I have an ornery goat that strayed up that I sometimes think about trading for far less than the world. Then she looks at me with that "Who, me?" expression and sun and moon couldn't part me from her. So, yeah, I know what you mean!

@Jo: I can totally see a curfew for pets in a populated area. And indoor cats, especially those that live in more populated areas, DO live longer on average. It's win-win for people and pets, even if the beasties don't quite see it that way from their perspective.

In the neighboring city there are leash laws for dogs but no real restrictions on cats. Can the rangers there really enforce the curfew? It seems the feral cats in our cities here can't be wrangled. I suppose, though, the pet cats would be easier to catch, which would seem to put them at a severe disadvantage.

I'm thrilled my other two cats, who were once ferals, have elected to stay indoors 99% of the time. I think they're happy to put their tiger days behind them :o)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Magic is lovely. My mini horse Comet (read his story on my blog) loved coming in to the house any time any season.
My dogs were indoor babies, my cats stayed out except my Salem, who resembles your Magic, would sneak in at night and sneak out in the morning before Sugar Bear, the Dobie was awake and on cat duty.
The cat's had their own beautful heated home but Salem preferred the house.

I so agree with leash laws, curfews and so on to keep animals safe.

Lex: Would love to know how your story ended up and get caught up on it and other projects you've got on the go. Is there a website I can cruise?

Jo-Ann: I've read feral cats have caused havoc with wildlife down under. Is the situation getting better? Big job to try and contain/control.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Lex, found your blogs.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Pheonix,
Hope you have great things in store for 2012.

I sincerely hope you and ornery goat can work out your clearly dysfunctional relationship and that ornery goat quits running off and you can establish once and for all you will not be butted or bullied anymore. I am experienced in goat interventions, if you need one we can set it up. Goat interventions are very emotional and difficult but if you can be strong through it, well, maybe we can turn this goat around.

Dial GOAT-INTERVENS, toll free.

Have a great day!

Jo-Ann said...

@ Wilkins - short answer, no the feral problem is still a big one. I can give you the longer version of this personally, if you like. It's a subject I feel passionate about...

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey Jo-An.
Would love to hear the longer version.I'm all for animals but poor Aus is suffering from introduced species. Would love to hear your side. Here or on my blog or your blog. Cane toads, cats, rabbits, camels,and how the poor dingo is nearly extinct.Let me know where I can read it from your prospective.

Fortunately no one seems to have brought introduced species to Canada.

During the flood here aparently 13 green African mambas were released. Scary stuff.

Feel free to enlighten me. I saw on tv feral cats in Aus. were given shots etc. but not neutered endangering the koalas and so forth. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

You can email me at I invite you to send me your thoughts on the feral cat problem and hope you'll let me post it on my rather obscure blog.

I'd love to get an Aus perspective on this situation. If I can help I will.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Jo: Happy to cross-post your thoughts here as well! Awareness in multiple places (and with multiple search engine hits) is all good. Maybe we can do a "paws across the world" day and all post the same message simultaneously.

Mac: Hah! on the goat intervention. I do think I have the issue narrowed down to a hormonal one. Lucy tends to be more butt-ery when she's in heat or lactating (she tends to go into false pregnancy mode a lot). So, basically, PMS of a capricornian kind.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love black cats. Have one stretched out on my legs right now. Since we have the enclosed dog run and taught the cats how to use the dog door, they do spend quite a bit of time outside. My little black girl, Maya, loves climbing the walls out there. She also climbs the center post holding up the middle of the roof.

We do have the one feral who is spayed - finally. Took us over a year to catch her. She is starting to trust me, but won't let me too near. She knows this neighborhood very well and goes to ground somewhere at night, but I'm not sure where. I think she stays in our backyard sometimes, but that's chancy as the one dog chases her whenever he sees her.

Invasive species are a huge issue. We all have a very large problem with the ocean species. Tankers take on ballast in one ocean and dump it in another. Not easily seen, but it's there.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

A goat with PMS!

And apologize for using your blog for my selfish ends.I'd love to read Jo-An's article/perspective on this problem. Posting it here will likely obtain better exposure. I wonder if there is a viable solution.

karen said...

Loved this story! And great pix, too.

vkw said...

I love this story and have thought about it quite often since you first posted it. I think a measure of any good story is how long it sticks with you.

Cats are a special sort of independence and personality - Magic certainly has both characteristics in place.