Tag Archives: Patio

Let Them Eat Snake!

Yesterday evening Chris comes shooting through the cat door from our screened-in patio. Puck came in close behind and they were both playing with something under our dining room table. Rose notice what it was and started yelling, “He’s got a snake! He’s got a snake! Get it! Get it out of the house!”

It was a small snake, perhaps nine or ten inches long, and it was on the ground trying to escape but Chris and Puck had it corralled. I tried to grab it, but I wanted to pick it up near the head so it wouldn’t bite me. That slight hesitation gave Chris enough time to pick it up and run with it. It then became a game of keep-away.

I quickly got tired of the game and picked up Chris, with the snake in his mouth, and carried him onto the patio. I then held him down near the outside door until he dropped the snake. When he did, I pushed the snake under the door to the outside. Done… at least that is what I thought.

As soon as I let Chris go he ran to the door, reached as far under it as he could, and pulled the snake back inside. Bad cat! I had to go through it again. This time I held Chris down until he dropped it and then left the snake alone and put Chris in the house. I then picked up the snake, which was no longer moving, and threw it outside. If Rose wasn’t there I might have just let him eat it so the lost life would not be wasted.

Later I wondered why he always has to bring his catch into the house. Rose said he is giving us a gift. I am well aware of cats bringing dead animals to their owners as gifts, but when they bring it in and then play keep-away, it is not a gift.

The Great Upheaval

Sixteen months after moving to Myrtle Beach, it was time to go back to Florida. Rose was asked to manage the property she left when she was an assistant manager. It was another promotion for her since the Florida property was more than double the size of the Myrtle Beach property. More importantly, we really wanted to go back to where we belonged.

Since Rose did not want to live on the property, we ended up renting a condo at the same complex that we used to own. We knew it was nice there and did not want any unpleasant surprises, since we couldn’t see the rentals first hand.

The big problem was that renting almost always means two pets. This place had a two pet rule in their bylaws. When we owned it was easier to sneak in a few extra cats, but as a renter, forget it. We decided we could get away with no more than three. That meant that two cats had to go. It was something I was not prepared to do and even tried to talk Rose into moving into one of her own apartments. At least I would have some pull with the landlord. Unfortunately, that did not work.

It was decided that Princess was an obvious choice because she didn’t like any of the other cats and absolutely despised Abbey. She would spend her days hiding under Rose’s dressing table and hiss and growl at Abbey when she came in the same room. Tony, the maintenance supervisor, took Princess for his little girls, who planned on spoiling her.

The next choice was difficult. Chris, we knew, could not be tolerated by anybody and would wind up back at the shelter so, in this case, being bad was good, for him anyway.

That left Tigger and the sister and brother, Abbey and Alex. It was not a matter of which one we cared about more, it was who we thought would be less affected by the separation. In this case, being good was bad. Alex turned out to be the better choice to stay behind because he wasn’t as needy. He also seemed to have become more of a loner as he aged. Don’t get me wrong, he was one of the friendliest cat I knew, he just was becoming less social with the other cats.

One of my last photos of Alex with Chris, of course, on top of him.

Alan, the maintenance technician, took Alex. It was nice to know our cats had someone to take care of them. I could not leave them in a cage at a shelter.

I brought Alex to Alan’s apartment a couple of days before we left and then went over a couple of times to visit him. He seemed happy there. I hated to leave him but that’s life sometimes.

I decided to plan the drive to Florida better than the drive to South Carolina. The first time we drove straight through and that was hard on the cats. This time I calculated the half-way point to be somewhere near the Florida border. I had checked hotels in Brunswick Georgia and Jacksonville Florida and found the ones near the expressway that took pets. This time we were going to leave later in the day and spend the night at a hotel.

Truck driver Rose with the cats.

On November 12, 2010, we spent all morning and part of the afternoon loading the rental truck. When that was done, we were left with the hard part, packing the cats. We had to put the cats between us on the front seat of the truck. In the large carrier, we put Tigger and Abbey because they get along well together. Chris went on top in the small carrier because we thought he would appreciate being able to look out the window.

The cats were pretty good for the most part and we made it to Jacksonville before stopping for the night. They were all happy to be out of their boxes, especially Chris, who had to investigate every nook and cranny of the hotel room.

The next day we drove the rest of the way to Dunedin. When we arrived we had two men come and help us unload the truck. That took many hours and the cats had to be shut up in the bathroom the entire time. I supposed after being in a truck all morning, it was a welcome respite.

Our new place had two levels and Chris shot up and down the stairs like an old pro. He would sometimes skip two or three stairs as he bounded down, usually hitting the ground floor and sliding into the bathroom door. Abbey, however, would come down very carefully, first the two front feet then the two rear feet, one step at a time.

Our new home with screen-less patio.

The biggest problem with our new home was that our patio was not screened nor could it be, so the cats had to stay inside. The other cats didn’t mind but poor Chris was like a bird with no wings.

The Great Escape

We discovered right away that Chris was not going to be content as an indoor cat. Not long after we brought him home, I opened the front door to come in and he raced onto the third floor breezeway. I wasn’t concerned at first because I assumed he was unfamiliar with stairs and his hesitation to go down confirmed that…or so I thought.

As soon as I tried to pick him up, he shot down the stairs, barely pausing on the second floor before racing to the ground. I set the groceries I was carrying in front of the door and gave chase. When I got to him investigating what was in the bushes, he saw me and ran off to the side of the building.

I was eventually able to catch him and struggled to carry him back upstairs. He was fine until I got halfway up the stairs and then he was determined to jump free.

We had a small patio that I had rigged with screening so the cats would not be able to jump down. It was a fairly long way down and I did not want any of them to get hurt. I also did not want to lose any of them. Shortly after Chris’s first foray outside, he was on the patio one morning while Rose and I were getting ready for work. Rose heard a cat crying outside in the distance and thought a cat was in distress. It was too far away to be any of our cats so I went outside to have a look.

When I got downstairs I saw a gold cat crying to get inside the apartment two floors below. There was a bowl of water next to him so obviously this cat belonged there, but I was amazed at how much he looked like Chris. As I got closer, I realized that it was Chris. How did he get outside and why was he desperate to get into the wrong apartment?

Later that day Rose talked to the woman who lived on the first floor and the pieces of the puzzle started to come together. I can only think of one way he could have escaped the patio. He must have squeezed his body, like a cockroach, through the impossibly small opening under the railing and then jumped to the ground. I only know this was possible because I saw him squeeze under our dresser the first day we got him. We had to pull a drawer out to get him out.

Chris on patio – notice the small opening under railing – Photo taken two days after we brought him home.

Once on the ground, and probably after a thorough investigation of the area, he must have assumed his home was on the first floor so he cried to come in. The women living there opened the door and Chris ran in like he owned the place. She said he ran around the living room in apparent distress. He was probably wondering how we changed the furniture so quick.

She opened a can of tuna for him, hoping that would calm him down, but he wasn’t interested. Eventually she put him outside with a bowl of water. That is where I found him.

He has since turned out to be a great lover of the outdoors which is a shame because he is an inside only cat. Occasionally he gets out but those are stories for another time.