While I am not in the habit of adding either at random, we’ve gained five cats at our place since the summer of 2013 (3 of them intentionally, 2 by accident) and all of them are still alive and as normal as cats ever get. Phoenix has come to terms with all of them in his own special bitey way. I suspect a couple of them may attend therapy for malinois-induced neurosis but on the surface they appear to be your average Iowa barn cats.
Cat number seven arrived earlier this month.
In case you’re counting, I didn’t skip cat number six. She is Winnie The Cat and she was here before Phoenix. Technically, she was here before Jamie, if that gives you an idea of how insanely old she is. She was actually cat number one. Cats number two through six – Siren, Gryphon, Weezel (intentional), Wild and Bonus (accidental) - came in 2013. 2014 was relatively peaceful, if you don’t count Banner’s arrival, which lit off all sorts of fireworks until Phoenix decided he wuuuuuved his little bob-tailed bro.
And that brings us to cat number seven.I’m not averse to having multiple outdoor cats. We have a big farm. There’s plenty of room for everyone. There are plenty of mice for everyone. There’s plenty of room around the communal food bowl, too. The price of eating out of the communal bowl is a round trip to the vet. That entitles the recipient to sit on the patio, two squares a day and free run of the farm without being molested by the dogs. Unless, of course, the cat wants to be molested and then it can just roll over and stick its paws in the air and let the dogs sniff and poke. This happens frequently.
That’s where Phoenix and I see things a little differently.
With a malinois, there are no shades of gray. It’s either black or it’s white. In this case, it’s both.
Cat number seven, hereafter known as Freeloader, is black and white. He showed up earlier this month. He keeps a low profile but has figured out the morning and evening feeding times. He’s not a touchy-feely sort of cat but he talks to me a lot.
Phoenix does not approve. Freeloader is not one of “his” cats. He has not cleared whatever passes for a background check in Phoenix’s world. Therefore he does not belong. He should leave. He should leave now.Phoenix, barking hysterically: Insurgent! Intruder! Battle stations! Scramble the fighters! This is not a drill!
Me: What? What! It’s a cat! Freddie Krueger is not on the back porch!
Phoenix: Yes! Cat! Not my cat! Strange cat! Who’s Freddie Krueger?Me: Will you relax? It can stay.
Phoenix: No! Strange cat! Not okay! Must leave! I will make it leave!
Banner: New kitty? Where? Want it!
Freeloader: Holy crap. This place has good chow but the natives are a little over the top.Phoenix: I will give you the malinois death stare. You want to run so I can chase you. You want to run now. Run. Now. RUN! Why aren’t you running?
Banner bouncing enthusiastically: Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!Me: Freeloader, here’s the deal. You’re welcome to stay. There are two house rules. Number one, once you’re settled in, you win an overnight trip to the vet. Number two, don’t run from the dogs. Ever. It's better that way. Trust me.
Freeloader: Are you crazy, woman? I’m not going anywhere near those dogs. The big one drools when he looks at me and the little one looks insane. Why does it keep bouncing up and down like that? Is something wrong with it?Me: I don’t have time to explain. Phoenix, put your teeth back in your mouth and quit staring at the cat. It makes him uncomfortable. Banner, stop acting like a rabbit on crack.
Phoenix: He started it.
Banner: Like the kitty! Pretty kitty! Want to sniff it!
Me: He doesn’t want to sniff you, I’m pretty sure of that.
Freeloader: This place is an asylum. Can I get my meal to go?
Phoenix: BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!Me: What is it now?
Phoenix: I thought I saw Freddie Krueger.