Jake, the black and white cat, was a little late this morning; he waited until 5:15 AM to awaken us by scratching at our bedroom door and suggest that we might let him out. Carol obliged. 30 minutes later Bailey, the pure black cat, began meowing to announce that he, now, would like to go out. My turn; I got up, opened the main door. As Bailey shot out, Jake shot back in and jumped up on the kitchen sink unit looking expectantly at me. He wanted a drink of water so I obligingly started running a slow stream of water from which he could lap.
It is proving to be an interesting exercise looking after a house with a mixture of two dogs, both female, and three cats, all male. We are no strangers to pets so naturally knew that there were clear differences between the two species but didn’t realize how sharp the contrasts were until observing the two in close proximity.
The three cats are all individuals with different habits. Jake gets our attention by a gentle scratching at the bedroom door. Bailey gets our attention by meowing. Chester, the ginger cat, thus far hasn’t seemed to find it necessary to get our attention at all, though he certainly does attract it when he decides that the time is right for him to start humping one of the cushions on the sofa. Yikes! Jake drinks water from a running tap, Chester drinks milk having stood in a particular spot to signal that he wants some. Bailey drinks water from the dogs’ bowl by dipping in one paw and licking it. Jake won’t eat while either or both of the other two are eating; he dines alone.
The two dogs, golden retrievers called Sherry and Chandon, are entirely different. They always do things as a pair. One dog can’t move and appear to be getting something without the other one fearing that she’s missing out and trying to muscle in on the act. Indeed, a human can’t move without the dogs thinking it must be for their benefit. We were given a timetable by which to feed them. They seem more or less to understand the timetable with their excitement building almost to fever pitch as the clock ticks around, though this doesn’t stop them trying to grab more food in between times. This remains true even if they were actually fed a mere 10 minutes earlier. No matter, someone’s moving so it must be our food time. The humans are sitting at the table, maybe they’ll feed us too. The dogs give the impression that, if one were to put down unlimited quantities of food, they’d keep eating until they exploded. “I’ve had enough” is not a phrase that has a dog equivalent. Without the strict feeding regime, the dogs would overeat and stuff themselves stupid. There’s nothing delicate or appreciative in the way they eat, either. Everything, no matter what it might be, is greedily wolfed down so fast that it stands not a chance of touching the sides. Taste buds, if dogs have any, are a complete waste of canine evolution. Darwin would be turning in his grave.
The cats are essentially aloof and independent, giving the impression that it is they who are gracing you with their presence rather than you looking after them. We were told that the cats would tell us what they want and when. It’s absolutely true. It’s taken us a little while to get used to their language but it’s working. They nudge us, metaphorically speaking, when they want food or a drink and they stop when they’ve had sufficient. Put too much food down for the cats and it gets left. That is, anything inaccessible by the dogs gets left. Any remains accessible by the dogs last as long as it takes one or both of them to cover the ground and vacuum it up. Any tidbit out of the ordinary, the lungs out of a rabbit for example, gets thoroughly investigated by the cats prior to being eaten. First it is sniffed thoroughly, then it might be licked for a minute or two. Only if they decide it is befitting their standards do they consume it. Should they decide it is not to their taste, they leave it and walk away. Attempting to retrieve a morsel rejected by a cat is likely to place one in danger of losing one’s hand to a rapidly advancing, salivating dog or two. When the cats decide to eat, they do so delicately, eating only what they like and only as much as they need and taking their time over it. In short, they are much more self-controlled and refined.
Our pet care instructions seemed a little unfair at first: the cats get what they want whenever they want and the dogs are strictly controlled. I get it now, though; it’s entirely necessary.
It was raining and quite cold today. Just the right kind of weather for a warming dinner of rabbit in almond sauce. Hence the rabbit lungs for Bailey, which he eventually decided were good enough for him to eat.