Theodora, Tux, and the Mouse

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Animals and Nature Kingdoms, New Posts

 

How to Pretend You Are Mousing When You Aren’t.

Tuxedo Cat with Mouse.

 

Eventually, Theodora made a feline friend. We named him Tux because he was black and white and looked like he was wearing a tuxedo. Of the 15 cats who had been present when Theodora first arrived, only Theodora was still with us when Tux showed up. There were no male cats to fight with, so Tux hung around hoping for a handout.

Tux was a hobo, drifting from place to place, eating whatever he could catch or find, and not caring how clean he kept himself. This hardly sounds like the type of cat you would expect Theodora to befriend.  (If you don’t understand this reference, please read the other stories about Theodora, who had attended Oxford University in England.)

Susan, Theodora’s person, came for a visit and took pity on Tux, who was living outside our house hoping we would adopt him. She let him in through the kitchen window and gave Tux something to eat. That was all it took for Tux to decide that this was a good place to stay.

While visiting us, Susan took Tux to the vet for a check up, vaccinations, and neutering. Now that he had a home, Tux was expected to look and be respectable in every way.

Tux decided it was time to catch up on eating, and he began to grow quite large in girth. He had a large, wide, round head (Garfield like) with ears that were a bit flat and stuck out to the sides. His right ear looked like someone had chewed on it. His body soon filled out to match his large head, and he grew quite plump and hefty. I guess Theodora insisted that he wash, because he soon began to clean himself every day.

Early one morning, as I set the coffee to brew, I spied a field mouse walking on the kitchen counter. Now at this time, both Theodora and Tux were in the kitchen, lounging on the counter at the other end of the kitchen, completely ignoring the mouse.

“Well, you lazy fellows,” I remarked, partly annoyed, but mostly amused, “Obviously we feed you far too well. Here is a mouse, making itself quite at home, and here are both of you ignoring it. I think we will have to suspend feeding you until you rid the kitchen of this mouse.”

Two astonished pairs of eyes followed me as I said down at the table.

“No food until we catch the mouse?”

“Unheard of!”

“Mistreatment!!”

“Appalling!”

I’m sure both cats were fed their regular dinner that night. But the next morning, to my complete amazement, there was Tux, waddling his chubby self across the room, chasing the mouse.

Theodora, of course, didn’t catch mice. She was watching the chase from the counter, where I saw her surreptitiously giving Tux tips on which way the mouse had gone. She would lick a paw and then point it in the appropriate direction while pretending to wash her face.

Tux, who hadn’t hunted in some time, and whose girth was quite expanded, was struggling to keep up with the mouse. Then the mouse dashed behind the legs of an electric frying pan. Suddenly, everything on the counter flew into the air all at once as mouse and enormous cat went sailing through the air. The mouse ran out the window, or maybe it was the door, and peace and quiet returned.

Tux was immensely proud of himself for chasing the mouse away, and Theodora was proud that she had helped without actually chasing the mouse at all.

Tux came over and lay down on my feet and purred and purred, louder than ever.

Theodora pretended nothing had happened. How typical of Theodora!!

Theodora and the Space Ship

March 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Animals and Nature Kingdoms, New Posts

 

Maintaining Dignity Under Pressure

White British Shorthair

As I mentioned in my last post, Theodora was a British Shorthair cat whom I knew many years ago.   These are all true stories about her life and her teachings.

After living in the country for a few years, Theodora enjoyed taking walks in the fields that stretched far into the distance from our house. In August, when the grass was more than eight inches tall, Theodora would sniff the flowers, admire the butterflies, and pretend she was hunting field mice.

One bright, sunny day, my Arabian mare, Echo, and I went for a gallop through a field where we often played together. Echo loved to run, especially with me on her back. We would pretend we were a space ship, flying faster and faster past all the planets. We both thought this was an excellent game.

The field where we played was inhabited by many woodchucks, who made holes in the ground and burrowed beneath to build their homes. Whenever Echo and I rode there, we would make one trip around the fields just to check out where it was safe to run. If Echo were to step into a woodchuck hole at a gallop, she and I could be badly hurt.

Once we both knew where it was safe to run, we would set out on our expedition through the solar system. Echo’s long crystal and white mane would fly as she galloped, and I would call out the planets as we passed them – Mercury, Venus, Earth, asteroid belt, Mars, Jupiter, and so on, all the way to Pluto.

We were touring the planets one day at a gallop when I spied a blob of white in the tall grass straight ahead of us. “Oh, my,” I thought to myself. “It’s Theodora. I’m sure she’s never seen anything as big as a horse running right at her. If she bolts for the house, Echo will spook sideways and could end up in a woodchuck hole.”

I had to think quickly because Echo wasn’t in the mood to slow down.

“Theodora,” I shouted. Theodora looked up, her eyes growing bigger like daisies opening in the sunshine. I could see Echo and myself through her eyes, a huge white monster – possibly an alien from outer space – coming straight at her and making thundering sounds mixed with a human voice.

“Stand still, Theodora!” I shouted.

Theodora was so surprised, she turned to stone. She didn’t even flick her tail as Echo and I whisked past her.  Only her head turned to follow us in total amazement.

As soon as we were able to stop, I looked back to see what Theodora was doing. She was making a mad dash across the field, through the trees, and up the hill to the house.

Of course, once she had safely arrived, she never let on that she had seen a ship from outer space.   Where her dignity was concerned, Theodora was a master at keeping secrets.  She would never tell the other cats she had seen a space ship or a monster, or that she had been frightened.  Theodora took a bath and washed it all away.

Theodora Comes to America

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Animals and Nature Kingdoms, New Posts

 

Theodora – Gift of God

British Shorthair

This is the true story of a very remarkable feline named Theodora.

Theodora was a white cat with a pink nose and pink inside her ears.  She kept herself fastidiously clean, so her white fur sparkled in the sunshine.  She was born in Oxford, England, where she attended University.

There she found Susan, an American student, and decided that Susan needed a cat. Susan agreed.  Susan was so grateful that she named the cat Theodora, which means, “gift of God”.  Maybe it was her name that gave Theodora such a high opinion of herself.

When Susan left England to visit Spain, she took Theodora with her.  This meant that Theodora was unable to return to her native country without enduring 6 months of quarantine.  This is the law in England.  So when Susan returned to Oxford, she sent Theodora to live with her parents in the United States.

That’s where I met Theodora.  I was living with Georgia and Loring in Loring’s old family summer home.  We had 15 cats, but Theodora was the only one who was snow white.  Ours was a large farm kitchen with counters along three of the walls and lots of cabinets above and below them.

Lounging on all the counters were cats in varying sizes, shapes, colors, and positions.  All appeared to have no doubt about their right to their particular bit of space.  There were two yellow tigers, two calicos, one black and white, two black tigers, three cats with white, black, and brown spots, one all black cat, two grays with white feet, and one orange and black cat.  And then there was Theodora, pure, pure white without a single hair of any other color.

Now, Theodora thought she was better than the other cats.  “After all,” she thought.  “I’ve attended University.  These other cats are just a bunch of country bumpkins.”  So it wasn’t surprising to see her snubbing the country kitties.

For their part, the other cats ignored Theodora.  They thought she was a prissy snob who didn’t understand the basics of life in the country.  Theodora eventually redeemed herself in the eyes of her feline companions because she was very good at climbing trees and being able to get down again.  Country cats are expected to be good mousers and to climb trees.

If Theodora wasn’t going to hunt, at least she could climb.  She was so good at climbing that she could make it to the rooftop to admire the moon.  The moon looked as white and as clean as Theodora, so I’m sure she admired it.  To come down from the rooftop, Theodora would sneak into a second story dormer window and use the stairs when no one else was looking.  The other cats thought she came down the tree instead of down the stairs and they were very impressed.

While in the kitchen, Theodora did not hesitate to demand her fair share of attention and treats from the humans.  She could jump from the counters to the table in the middle of the kitchen.  It didn’t matter what was on the table.  It could be nearly empty except for a vase of flowers, or it could be set for a meal and full of dishes of food.

Theodora would leap across the room, thus avoiding the attention of any dogs that might be present, land smartly on the table, and send anything in the way flying.  Then she would come right up to her chosen human and demand to be petted by rubbing her head against your hand or fork.  If you pushed her away and said, “Not now, Theodora,” she would sit right down next to your plate and wash her face.  “Your loss,” she would say.

Theodora didn’t care what others thought of her.  She liked and accepted herself.  If you were too busy to admire her now, you would admire her later.  If you didn’t give her a snack now, she would persuade you to give her one later.  Theodora had complete conviction, total faith in herself.

Theodora lived to be a very old cat.  She continued all her life to appreciate herself and to teach others that recognizing your own self-worth and believing in yourself is more important than what others think of you.  This is still a good lesson for people to learn, and I thank Theodora for teaching it to me.