Déjà vu All Over Again…Almost!

BonnieDéjà vu All Over Again…Almost!

James R. Aist

If you have cats, you know that they are consummate creatures of habit. And it is often said that they usually forget things after a few weeks. Well, this true story may well be proof positive of those two kitty characteristics.

It all happened on Snyder Hill, just a little southeast of Ithaca, in upstate New York, about 15 years ago. We had two cats, Bonnie and Clyde, but we had to let Clyde “go” because he became mean and unruly. That left just Bonnie, whose personality blossomed after Clyde’s departure, especially her assertiveness. And it was a good thing, too.

One hot summer evening (yes, it does occasionally get hot in upstate New York, believe it or not), Bonnie and I were in the living room when we heard a neighborhood cat let out a menacing verbalization that can best be described as a long-drawn-out, blood-curdling “scrowl.” When this announcement was repeated, it became obvious to both of us that this intruder was approaching the living room window, which was open, with only the window screen between us and him. So, Bonnie took it upon herself to fend off this intruder at all costs, and she began to answer his threats in like manner. As he got closer and closer to the window from the outside, so, too, did Bonnie get closer and closer to it from the inside. Now, both of these ferocious beasts were exchanging the most insidious of threatening insults with seriously hurtful intentions. Suddenly, Bonnie jumped up onto the back of the couch with her face just inches away from the screen. I knew that something violent was about to come down, so I summoned my wife, Janet, to come quickly, so she wouldn’t miss out on the ensuing encounter.

Just as Janet entered the room, the intruder leapt onto the screen with a fierce scream and a menacing glare on his face. In a split second, Bonnie joined him on the screen in like manner. I am constrained to relate exactly the “words” that were rapidly exchanged between the two cats suspended in this pose for a few moments, but suffice it to say that there was no love lost between challenger and defender. Then, realizing that there was no way that he was going to get at Bonnie with the screen separating the two of them, the would-be intruder gingerly relinquished his grip on the screen, dropped to the ground…kerplunk, and slinked away into the night. Convinced that she had won the day, Bonnie then abandoned the screen and returned to her place in the living room, as proud as a peacock. And we, too, were quite impressed and proud of our vicious little attack cat.

But, that’s not the end of the story, not by a long shot. Fast forward a few months. It’s now Fall, the nights are cold, the screen was up and the glass sash was in its lowered position. The evening began innocently enough, but we were in for some exceptional entertainment. Bonnie and I were, once again, in the living room when we heard the same neighborhood cat let out a menacing verbalization that can best be described as a long-drawn-out, blood-curdling “scrowl.” When this announcement was repeated, it became obvious to both of us that this intruder was, once again, approaching the living room window, which was now closed, with only the window glass between us and him. So, again, Bonnie took it upon herself to fend off this intruder at all costs, and she began to answer his threats. As he got closer and closer to the window from the outside, so, too, did Bonnie get closer and closer to it from the inside. Now, both of these ferocious beasts were exchanging the most insidious of threatening insults with seriously hurtful intentions. By this time, I was already saying to myself, “No-no-no, surely he wouldn’t, not with the glass in place now. I don’t know if I can survive the intensity of the ensuing laughter if he were to do that again.” But, just in case, I beckoned Janet into the living room once again, so she wouldn’t miss out on the fun. Anticipating what might be coming, we were already about to burst out in laughter when, low and behold, it happened.

Bonnie jumped up onto the back of the couch with her face just inches away from the glass. As anticipated, the would-be intruder leapt onto the glass with a fierce scream and a menacing glare on his face. In a split second, Bonnie joined him on the glass in like manner. I am constrained to relate exactly the “words” that were rapidly exchanged between the two cats suspended in this pose for a split second, but that pose didn’t last long. Like Wiley Coyote who, chasing feverishly after the Road Runner, failed to make the turn just before the cliff and was briefly suspended in mid-air before crashing to the ground…kuh-thump, so, too, these valiant feline warriors seemed suspended in time for a brief moment before the reality of gravity set in, and, bug-eyed and terrified, they came crashing (more precisely, sliding rapidly) down. At this point we were so consumed by uncontrollable laughter that we had zero concern for Bonnie’s well being following her fall. But, not to worry, we finally regained our composure to find that the couch was soft and had afforded her a perfect landing place. I can’t say that the other cat fared as well, though.

And that was the last we heard from this unwelcome, wannabe intruder. I guess his memory must have lasted more than a few weeks that time!

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The Cat in the Bag

English: Young Maine Coon cat in paper bagThe Cat in the Bag

James R. Aist

Cats can be not only good little buddies, but also good entertainment. That is, if you pay attention and take time to interact with them. This funny story took place because I paid attention and took a moment to interact with our cat, Clyde, at just the right time.

We were living in a small, two-story frame house on Snyder Hill, just outside of Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY. One lazy Saturday afternoon, shortly after we had returned from shopping and were unloading our shopping bags in the appropriate rooms, I lingered for a moment, in the small upstairs bedroom at the end of the hallway, to put away some of the spoils of our shopping spree. Then I heard behind me the familiar sound of “someone” rattling a paper shopping bag that, innocently, I had left on the floor. So, I turned to see exactly what I expected to see: Clyde was in the bag poking and scratching mischievously at the sides, just to hear the mysterious noise it made when he struck it.

Now, this happened not to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill paper grocery bag; this one had those paper loops at the top which served as handles for ease of toting. Ignoring the handles for the moment, I began to playfully poke and scratch at the bag from the outside, also mischievously, to see if I could spook the cat and get in on the fun. Well, it wasn’t long before Clyde became so spooked by (what must have seemed to him as) the bag poking and scratching back, that he panicked and burst suddenly out of the bag at breakneck speed in order to escape the “bag monster” within. Problem was, he was ignoring the handles on the bag as much as I was. Until, that is, it became evident that in exiting the bag in a panic, he had accidentally put his head through one of the handles and was dragging the bag ever so close behind him. When he heard the noise of the bag behind him, he looked back in full stride to see what was making the noise and saw that the bag was actually chasing him! This discovery put a sudden look of terror on his face, and he kicked it into high gear. I had no idea he could even run that fast.

By this time I was beginning to laugh uncontrollably, as compassion for my little buddy had not yet kicked in. Out the doorway and down the hallway he bolted, with the ensnared bag keeping pace with every leap and bound he made. Just then (after I had had my jollies, that is) my heart became flooded with compassion, and I ran after him to free him of the “bag monster.” Of course, this just added to his panic attack, because now he had both a “bag monster” and a “giant monster” chasing him! So, he went into overdrive. Turning the corner, he raced down the stairs at lightning speed, banged into the closet door at the bottom, turned left and began making circles through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the living room again, etc. I was hopelessly chasing behind him, desperately trying to grasp the bag from behind and set him free (By the way, have you ever chased behind a paper bag moving at ~ 10 MPH, stooping forward every second or two to grasp the bottom of the bag with one hand, while laughing uncontrollably? I think not. Well, I can assure you, it’s no easy task!).

Fortunately, Clyde began to tire out, and I was finally able to get control of the bag, and, with expert precision, extract his head from the handle. Now, I’m sure he was thankful later that I had rescued him from the “bag monster”, but his immediate reaction was to run from both the bag and me as fast as he could go, the little ingrate!

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