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Meet the Critters Part 1: The Queenie

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A long, long time ago, I posted about the first four-legged creature to join our farm. It's about time that all the more recent additions got a proper introduction, I think.

In all honesty, I think that before Shiloh even arrived, the first critters to move in were the MICE! Having our trailer sitting here, unskirted, and with plenty of places that you could see daylight from inside that weren't windows, was pretty much the equivalent of an open invitation to the little rodents. Actually, it was less like a civilized invitation to an afternoon tea party, and more like a Vegas Casino, with big neon flashing arrows saying, "C'mon in! The food's in here!"

So, despite the fact that my allergic-to-cats husband had once promised that we would NEVER have a cat indoors, the little mouse droppings in all the wrong places soon persuaded him to allow me to go pick up some freebies.

The first one to come home was Sumi. "Sumi" is Japanese for "psycho cat with severe antisocial tendencies."

She came from a single male owner who was renovating his house, and seemed concerned that the noise was bothering her. Also, it wouldn't be long before his floor was ripped up, and he thought she might run away. This maybe should have been my first clue that what we were getting wasn't exactly the ideal "lap cat" I was looking for. However, he seemed to think she was a good mouser, and that was all I really cared about at the moment.

Of course, as I was picking her up (and it's not like she was right in town, or anything--it was a bit of a drive to get there), he mentions that she doesn't really like new people, and that it takes her about six months to get used to new cats. Hmm. Well, since she was already in the van, I felt somewhat committed, so she came home anyway.

Sumi has got to have more psychological problems than any other cat I've ever known, and given the fact that most cats tend to be a little psychotic, this is really saying something. When we got her home, she disappeared under our reclining couch. Then she didn't come out. At all. For two days. Finally, after deciding that this was ridiculous, Amanda M. and I hauled her out forcibly and put her in the cat litter box. Apparently, she had been holding it for two days! (Thank goodness that there were no messes anywhere.) Then she promptly went looking for another place to hide.

Thanks to the kittens that we brought home the day after Sumi (more about them tomorrow), who were very social and preferred the active, "living-room" end of the house, it wasn't long before Sumi decided that her preferred hiding spot was under our bed. This annoyed Jason because of his allergies. This annoyed me, because I much prefer sleeping with my bedroom door closed, but if we did that, she would wake us up meowing at ungodly hours, regardless of which side of the door she had been on when we retired.

Her encounters with the kittens were brief, hiss-and-run affairs, and we saw very little of her at all until they were moved permanently outside. Sumi was so reclusive, in fact, that nearly two weeks after we got her, she went streaking by Jabin up the hall towards our bedroom (her only speeds are "full out run" or "full stop"), and he exclaimed, "What was that?!" Because of this, she has been nicknamed "The Invisible Cat."

The first photo was taken September 4, not long after we got her. Here, she has decided to hide between the washing machine and the wall, behind the bathroom door. She would also hide in the pantry (until I got the door re-hung after painting) and behind the pressure tank, until our water actually got fixed and she decided it was way too noisy and busy in the bathroom from then on.

Sumi has gradually warmed up to us (at a pace akin to how a captive would acclimate to living with cannibals). She has bonded to me the most, and will often come out in the evening, after the kids are in bed and I am usually employed doing something that gives me lap, and she will sit with me. When she wants affection, she is actually somewhat demanding, like she craves it and is afraid of it at the same time. Unfortunately, she kneads. With claws. That gets her tossed off my lap immediately.

She is getting better, though. She also spends a fair amount of time out here during the day, now. This photo, taken last week, shows one of her favourite spots to sit: by the front door, at the entrance to the hallway. She can survey the kitchen, dining room and living room activities from this spot, but if anyone makes the slightest move in her direction, she can immediately bolt back up the hallway to the safety of her den under our bed.

She is quite pretty, with unusual eyes--mostly gold, but with a ring of green around the pupil. However, this particular look is "We are NOT amused." The cause of her consternation will be the subject of Part Three.

For a while, I had all but decided to take her back once her previous owner's renovations were at a point that would allow it. However, as she has thawed, I am now worried that she would re-experience all the moving stress she finally seems to be letting go of, even if I took her back to her previous owner. Plus, there is evidence that she may have been responsible for the deaths of two mice. If there were more, no evidence was left. Also, mousey activity in general seems to be down, of late, so she might actually be serving her purpose.

Anyway, the jury's still out.

Tomorrow's episode: The Kittens

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  1. Mouse patrol!! Good job, Sumi!
    And....she IS very pretty!

  2. Beautiful cat! Our old cat behaved much the same when we first got him. The previous owners had named him Owen, at first we called him Psycho. He would timidly lay across the entrance of the hallway, hissing/growling/scratching at any passersby. At one point Sarah came to me in tears, "Mommyyyyy, the cat won't let me go to the bathroom..." He's much better now, brings us all sorts of "gifts"; in the summer live or dead small animals, in the winter, socks, toques, stray mitts or whatever he can find from the basement. We love him and I think he tolerates us.


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