Look What the Cat Dragged In

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“What is going on?”  Garfield freezes and looks at me from the far end of the living room.  It’s early evening.  He is in mid-stride, and has just come in for the night of his own accord without me calling.  Something feels off.  This is not normal.

“I’m thinking,” responds the Bearded One, who studies his cards across from me at the kitchen table and assumes I am talking to him.  We are playing ritual evening card games.

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“Garfield just came in,” I say and put my cards down.  I get up and close the front door.

“Hm.”  The Bearded One never looks up from his puzzling hand of cards.

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It’s just 7pm, but it’s dark and rainy.  Of course that is why the cat came in so early, I think.  I sit back down, pick up my cards, and look into the living room.  Garfield is gone.

“Any day now, Honey Darlin’,” I say to the Bearded One who is taking too long to play.  This faux grumpiness does nothing to hurry him along, of course.  This time of year is all about slowing down some.  And being indoors more.  And being nice.

I cross and uncross my legs, which are tired from harvesting raised straw bed potatoes.

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My fingernails, which I examine at length, are stained yellow from the wet leather gardening gloves.

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The table and kitchen counters are cluttered with seed jars from my seed collecting operation,

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bowls of apples and pears and zucchini, and a pile of peach leathers I just took from the dehydrator.  It’s over.  The harvest is over.  Settle down, I tell myself.  Shift gears.  Be sweet.

Finally the Bearded One discards and I immediately draw a card and am studying my options when — THUNK!

The Bearded One looks beyond me to the living room and says, “What is the cat doing?”

“Sounds like he’s in the bathroom,” I say.  Garfield sometimes explores the lower bathroom cabinet, and he’s adjusting to autumn, too.

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We continue to play.  The Bearded One with an ice pack on his sore lower back, me feeling like the hens that are molting — prickly feathers sticking out, bald spots, ragged and not laying.  We raced for days to beat the weather and are beat up.

WHOMP!  WHOMP!

“What in the Sam Hill?” I snap and turn around.  I don’t see Garfield, but there are several more whomps and I get up.

It’s dark and I’m tiptoeing in my socks and calling the cat when I see his cute little face under the stairs where Ruby’s hidey-hole bed used to be, behind the little liquor cabinet I moved from the kitchen.

“You silly kitty,” I say.  “What are –”

And then I see the foot-long rat tail and the rat ears and waves of horror roll across my every nerve-ending, sparking a soul fibrillation and forcing a ghastly, unworldly shriek, “YEEEE-IKES!!”  I run into the kitchen.

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I can handle spiders, no problem.  But rats, especially big forest rats that grow fat in the aviary and move about on rafters in the barn, these are the creatures of my nightmares.  This one is quite a fine trophy for Garfield, but he has never before brought one into the house.

The Bearded One pulls out the cabinet and reports that the rat, and it is indeed a big rat, is dead.  “Garfield’s eating the head,” he says, completely nonplussed.

Was the rat dead or alive when Garfield brought it in?  We ponder this briefly — surely it was dead — but mainly I want it out of the house, and I want to be the one to do it.  I’m not so afraid of dead rats, and it’s my rat somehow.  “Out of my way, Sweetie,” I say, with love.  “I’ve got it.”

I grab one of my yellow rubber dishwashing gloves, and stand before Garfield.  “Thank you very much,” I say as I take the headless corpse and march out the door and into the dark, wet, cold night.  I look into the even darker forest, which is solid black under the full harvest moon.

“Ah-woooooooooo!” I howl.  I throw the rat as far as I can, deep into the woods.  I hear it fall into the leaves.  Whew.  It’s over.

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Autumn has arrived.  Time for me to come indoors.  I think we’ll start shutting that front door from now on.

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30 responses to “Look What the Cat Dragged In

  1. Wish I could have a seat and play a hand, I would promise not to talk. 🙂

  2. In country living, cats and dogs are not merely pets, but necessary security precautions. How come the Bearded One does not draw the beard on himself?

    • Garfield is a great mouser, J.K. He’s little, but quick and a great climber. Good question about the beard. He won’t say when I ask him, stubborn artist type that he is. Some day I’m going to find a picture from when he was mushing in Alaska and had a beard just like yours. I swear it went to his waist. When I find it, I’m sending it to you. 🙂

  3. What in the Sam Hill? Enjoyed it.

  4. You are so calm, cool, and collected during Life Events. Good ol’ Garfield, just cleaning up the farmlet from interlopers. Bothered much by raccoons?

    • Ha! Oh, to be calm and cool! Unfortunately, these have never been me. And yes, raccoons come and go. Garfield is in at night for that reason. When the raccoons get too thick i.e. looking in the windows at night, we set traps on the deck and relocate them across Highway 16.

  5. “…me, feeling like the hens that are molting…” Love it!

  6. Don’t you love the absolute solidity and “tell-it-like-it-is” ness of men? You are doing your best to mellow out, calm yourself into cooler weather…not spike their coffee with drugs, and they up and “tell-it-like-it-is” when you are trying to negotiate what “it is” into something that isn’t going to result in mad pandamonium…sigh…MEN! I don’t have too much of a problem with rats as a rule. My son had a pet rat and my youngest daughter has one now. No problems as a rule… but…when cats bring them inside and release them, terrified and scampering up anything close I get the heebie jeebies…”I AM CLOSE CAT!”. Love the aWOOOOO! It puts a voice to the release of that headless rat nicely. Maybe you just fed an own? Who knows, you might be an owl saviour and not even know it :). Love todays slow passage to winter. Love your harvest and your mind. Love you Christi 🙂 Hugs to E.P. by the way (if he has recovered from the Rohypnol you slipped into his coffee to get a moments peace 😉 ) By the way “the hens moulting” was pure genius girl! LOVE it 🙂

    • So true, Fran, about our Beloveds’ clarity and keen perception of what is…when we are walking the tightrope of seasonal change! And yes, it’s the “scampering up anything close” — like my leg!!!! — that gives me the screaming meemees. I do hope an owl ate the rat, and thanks for all your loving kudos. I feel the love. 🙂 Time to put a fire in our woodstove and think of Brunhilda….

      • Brunhilda is crackling contentedly, not willing to give her up just yet and lucky we didn’t as today is cold, grey and wet outside and she is the only thing lulling Earl into behaviour. Without her dulcet heat wafting in his direction he would be hunting out “interesting things to do” and that usually involves Earls mouth making contact with things that it shouldn’t…perpetual terrible 2’s in this house ;). Hugs and wafting warm thoughts to you and the E.P. 🙂 Oh…and don’t forget Garfield! Could you give that gorgeous ginger mog a big snoodle for me please? 🙂

      • I gave Garfield (or Gaston, as he is also called — all cats have at least 2 names, right?) a kiss and “snoodle” for you. And I turned on the heat this morning!

      • 🙂 Just got a comment from a blogger that I follow in New South Wales (further up north in mainland Australia) and she said that they were expecting 38C yesterday!!! It’s only September and they are getting hot summer temperatures…I dread to think of what the coming summer is going to bring :(. Cheers for snoodling Gaston, he suits his Francophile name to a tee 🙂 Very elegant and all he needs is a tiny little ginger mustachio and he would be set 😉

  7. oops…”fed an owl!” 😉

  8. I’m with you – live rats – no way! It’s ‘scream and whimper’ territory …. Dead rats? I’m your man! I also hurl them – in my case off into the bush. I used to do that with dead ‘possums too…. which was probably why the rats grew so big and strong …… I have several great stories [great now that there is a long amount of time between the events and the retellings] of cats and rats and mice and beds and dish washers and Sunday morning fire places on birthdays …… Maybe I should write a post.

    Poor Garfield though, he was probably working his way down to the tasty innards and you tossed away his dinner……

    • Oooo, I’d love to read your cat/rat stories, Pauline! Perhaps an interesting collage…

      And Garfield didn’t pout over the rat; he knew he was lucky to get the head before I confiscated it. 🙂

  9. Here:
    Our private courtyard brick floor looks like a murder scene.
    Two large blood smears and splatters of blood everywhere.
    Our guess: the two great horned owls that live across the road caught something on our property during the night. We have heard them hooting this month.
    Then yesterday a HUGE Harris Hawk decided to fly into our oasis and perch on the back of one of our guest lounge chairs. Very rare kind of perch for a Harris Hawk. They like to be high and almighty – on the phone lines and in our tall Aleppo Pines.
    So he could have been the predator.
    And three days ago, I was gifted, on the laundry room courtyard doormat, the remains of a dead mammal of some kind, by – hopefully – our bobcat…whom we haven’t seen for awhile. My heart leapt with hope!
    Last night we heard footfalls padding across our roof.
    I have been asking the Universe for months to bring the bobcats back.

    So now I must confess that I don’t mind the killing as long as its done outside!
    Your heathen friend…who adores PD James and Agatha Christi and Tony Hillerman

    PS The photo of Garfield in ‘sweet innocence’ pose & the drawings – especially Garfield in the cupboard, your long AH-woooo & the castle fortress bolt across the door – made my day!

    • How amazing if it was your bobcat leaving you a gift of mammal tidbits! I believe it’s possible, since I’ve known cats (Garfield) who do that. Imagining a bobcat doing it is something else, though. Garfield truly did pose for that picture! I took several, and he just stayed there and didn’t move. I guess he was perfecting his innocent look. 🙂 The B.O. says thanks for the drawing kudos. Love to you and Den and all the wild critters at the Azure Gate.

  10. Resident chat, Maya, is missing 3 of her 4 fangs (canine teeth?). As a result, most of the gifts she brings into the house are still alive, and able, with some encouragement, to return to the outdoors from whence they came. And so far, they are small. You picked up a headless rat with rubber gloves? Baller, sistah!

    • Garfield is missing one of his fangs! I never considered that as the handicap that it must be….hmm. He manages to kill most of the time, though. After he’s played with the mouse or mole for awhile, of course. I not only picked up the headless rat with my yellow rubber gloves, I carried it and felt its weight. I was only able to throw it about 20 feet, though. Throwing is not my forte. 🙂

  11. You both are in fine form – well, all three I should say! My aunt’s cat used to bring them maimed birds, still with a hope of survival. I adore this time of year! Crisp, cool mornings, warm afternoons, the colors, harvest. I have a counter full of tomatoes and zucchinis. I plan on drying the tomatoes and freezing the zucchinis (for breads and fritters). How do you process yours and what do you make?

    • Hi, Kelly! Thanks for commenting, and joining in the autumn celebration. 🙂 Tomatoes = dehydrate and put in olive oil and basil for sun-dried tomatoes. One year I made spaghetti sauce and canned it, but neither the B.O. nor I are big tomato fans, so I’m not doing that this year. Weird, I know. Zucchini = muffins and bread, and I’m going to freeze some this year, too. In the past I dehydrated it and used it in soups, etc. But I still have some from last year! We also feed zucchini to the chickens, splitting it lenthwise and they peck out the soft inside. 🙂

  12. Gorgeous photo of Garfield. I had a grey female tabby long ago and she used to “gift” me live foot long black lizards/skinks that made me shriek like the girl I am 😀 😀 😀 and of course they would be bought into the house. At other times, she bought me half chewed ones and would deposit them on my foot for me to chew!!!!!! Must have been a mothering thing by her. I called her Cheetah as she had these glorious spots on her tummy. I don’t care for rats in my house, nor bats even though I wish them no harm. Maybe BO’s lack of a beard in his drawing was to show his Poker face? 😀

    • We have a hen named Cheetah! It’s a great name. Garfield has no spots on his tummy, but he is pound-for-pound the fiercest kitty on our road!!! We had a bat in our house last year. And a chicken for that matter — Sweet Tart, as she recovered from her mauling by a dog. All fine. Just not rats! And I think you’ve nailed it about the B.O.’s Poker face self-portraiture….no one can tell what in the world he is thinking.

      • Love your animals names Christi 😀 Cheetah and Sweet Tart are just delicious names for chickens. My cats names are Bubbles, Squeak (deceased 2013 sadly) and Molly. I have two old male budgerigars called Squiggy and Pip who have outlived every other bird I’ve had, they ignore the cats. Love animals of all sorts, excepting rats of course!

      • Cheers to you Cathy for animal love and wonderful animal names. 🙂 My favorite name of all the animals is LaLa. The previous owners named our darling black goat that because he was noisy and “sang” to them every time he saw them. He does have a distinctive bleat, but he’s not loud or pesky…he’s sweet LaLa! I would never have come up with that name.

  13. Great story! As I read your reaction to finding the rat–my breath quickened and I almost felt an emotional reaction as I thought about what I’d do if I found a dead rat in my house. . . . You handled the situation much more calmly than I would have. 🙂

    • I don’t know if I would have had the same reaction had I known it was dead when I first saw it…LIVE rats are the horror. BUT, saying that, the shock alone, and the TAIL, well, dead or alive, I hope to never experience it again. nervous lol

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