Tuesday, June 26, 2007

“I am a Lineman for the Kitty…”

My dog saw it first—a cat sitting on top of the utility pole just outside my home. The cat sat calmly atop the pole, while my dog jumped up periodically in enthusiasm, if to no avail. I called off said dog and tried to coax down the cat, a grey, short-haired cat I’d never seen before—also to no avail.

I can, at least, see WHY the cat climbed the pole. This was the traditional post of a red-winged blackbird, a clear and welcome target. Every morning I’d walk out to his incessant “Chit! Chit! Chit!” call. Over time, I realized that he was the look-out (and what better place?), warning that I was in the vicinity, even tracking me as I worked about the place. One day, as I got too close to a nest 100 feet away, this guy smoothly but swiftly glided down just two feet over the nest, let out a single, soft, musical note—and the female took off immediately. Beautiful teamwork. Once I realized that, I fretted for a nest another year when the male disappeared, fate unknown. Sure enough—a week later the nest had been overturned, no sign of its former contents.

Anyway, the feline pole sitter remained, and eventually I called my vet’s office for advice. They had no ideas other than the ones I’d already tried, and suggested a wildlife nuisance expert. I called. He listened patiently. “OK, look,” he started, in a very nice voice, “I don’t mean this harshly. I have four cats myself.” I listened. “You just don’t find cat skeletons in trees. We get calls like this all the time. Chances are, we’d climb one side of the pole, and the cat would run down the other. When it’s hungry, it will finally come down. It got up there; it can find it’s way down—probably when things quiet down.” Reluctantly, I had to agree. I’d just wait.

My dog certainly wasn’t helping, spending the bulk of her time guarding the pole, intently watching the aerialist intruder (“and I want you more than need you…”). The cat certainly had things to do, other than occasionally changing from sitting to lying atop its perch. After all, my cats LOVE watching birds from their vantage point inside my windows, so just imagine from the top of the utility pole! And not just red-winged blackbirds—robins, sparrows, finches, and much more so frequent that vicinity that every morning at 5 a.m. brings a cacophony so raucous that sleeping in can, at best, mean rolling over and going back to sleep, even over the purr of the air conditioner and fan. A cat’s dream (“I hear you singing on the wires…”). Indoors, I’ve seen cats sit for several hours, calmly waiting out a mouse. Or perhaps the cat was just practicing Zen, but “Zen for Cats” is essentially meant to be funny, and I find cats don’t really get humor. Additionally, as one cartoon depicted with a cat sleeping on a poor reader’s open newspaper, “cats don’t read, and they don’t want you to read either.”

I called my dog, and she happily bounded in to dinner, her shift over, oblivious that we didn’t have a night shift. She curled up at my feet as I worked. I looked out the window. Cat. When I finally went to bed, late that night, I looked out—dark shape atop the utility pole. So it continued, me anxious, dog watching, cat unmoved (“I know I need a small vacation…”). At least it didn’t look like rain. I started to feel the strain.

On the morning of the third day, I looked out, and the cat was gone. I rushed outside for evidence of what happened, but found nothing. No sign of egress, descension, ascension, recinsion, or any other kind of cension. No tracks, no fur, no claw marks, no carcass, no skeleton, no nothing.

I guess you just need to know…

…which cats are linemen…

Dunno. But I’m still on the line. Another overload.


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