No, I am not speaking about exercises for cats, but the exercises we do because of the cats. Years ago we started with one cat, Nala, a female torti-tiger cat who had come from a home with a kitten and a dog, neither of which she got on with. She spent most of her life hiding down in the basement, nervous and scared.
So when we took brought her home, she slowly acclimated to the house and our routines. She was happy, healthy, and best of all; comfortable. A year or two went by, and I happened to read online about one shelter’s “desperate house cats.” These were cats that had been in the shelter for six months or more, and badly needed homes.
There was a picture of all the volunteers, each holding a “desperate house cat.” One all-black cat caught my eye. In the picture, he was looking straight at the camera as if to say, “you’re the one; please come get me!”
So I took my best friend with me, and I brought Pookie home. Surprisingly, he and Nala got along quite well. It wasn’t long before the Crankee Yankee and I started feeding the stray cats we saw every day. During the winter time, we put up shelters for them all, and fed them daily.
As winter turned to spring, we noticed that our “frequent fliers,” a stout long-haired black and white “tuxedo” cat, and a large orange tiger cat, showed no signs of having homes. Eventually Plumpy and Tinker became part of our family.
My parents had a cat named Bailey (the only beige cat I’ve ever seen), and I promised them that we would take him when the time came. Mom died December 16, 2015, and Dad took over Bailey’s care. Two years later, he could no longer take care of Bailey, so we took him home with us. Just a few months later, Dad moved in with us. He died peacefully on April 22, 2017.
So where does the cat exercise come into play? Here’s how it goes: we feed them at certain times and they are used to the routine. (In fact they start giving us dirty looks when feeding time starts to come round.) Each cat has their own bowl, and they know which bowl is which.
Since we know the cats and their habits so well, we are aware of the ones who gobble up their own food, and try to eat the other cats’ leftovers. So that means we are up and down, checking on who ate what and when. If one cat is playfully chasing another, and the chasee is not in the mood to play, we break it up. If one cat wants to sleep where another cat is already sleeping, we get him interested in something else.
Bailey loves the sound of his own voice, and has decided that while we are all sound asleep, it’s the perfect time to start howling for no good reason. Seriously, there is never anything wrong, he just loves the sound of his own voice. So that means one of us has to get out of bed, bleary-eyed, and tell him to shut it.
Pookie had a nocturnal habit on a semi-regular basis: he locates a catnip mouse, carries it to his favorite corner, and then meows about it. He won’t stop until I get up, pat him on the head and tell him what a mighty hunter he is. (Seriously—he won’t lay off until I tell him this.)
And so it goes. Sometimes, not often, we actually get to sleep through the night. More often, we don’t. Cats being crepuscular (meaning ‘active at night’), they realy enjoy these nighttime pranks. We’ve gotten so used to it by now that we actually can get up, do what the cats want us to do, and then drop back into bed and fall asleep.
Let’s just say that they are giving us an active retirement….