Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fred the Cat

Fred is the orange one on the left, giving you the "eye" for disturbing his naptime.

I've written about Fred before. When he was a kitten, his name was Fredo, the spunky fuzzy little orange ball with teeth and attitude. An older couple who came to look at him to see if they would adopt him had him pegged as an "alpha male". He was the one that fought his mom when she was trying to pick him up to move him, while she calmly ignored him and grabbed his scruff, dropping him "accidentally". He was the one who nipped our Golden Retriever, Ginger, on the nose when she came to inspect the litter. I started to handle him more so that he would calm down and stop biting people. Tough little fighter.

Fred is still a scrappy fellow, but he has a soft side too. He is the only cat I've ever known to love his stomach rubbed, like a dog. When he gives himself a bath, he jumps down to give Ginger a few licks on the nose as well. His preferred place for naps is anywhere close to Dennis or on him. He tolerates me picking him up and carrying him like a baby or slung over my shoulder like a sack. And if he goes outside when we don't want him to and try to catch him, he flings himself on the sidewalk onto his side in complete surrender. And he used to nap cuddled up to Ginger, their golden fur blending so well that you don't know where cat started or dog ended. Now he's ten pounds, and Ginger isn't willing to share her space with such a hefty guy.

A few months before we got Carly, Fred's mom, Dennis and I were sitting out on our deck one morning with our coffee looking at a scene where some rabbits were getting chased down by what we thought was an orange fox or a small dog. The scene seemed like it was straight out of "Wild Kingdom". When it came closer, we were amazed to see that the predator was actually a big orange feline. It had guts, because it was chasing down two rabbits in an open large lawn for at least half an hour before it gave up. When Carly got pregnant shortly after I brought her home, we speculated who the fathers of the kittens might have been. I haven't seen an orange tom since the rabbit chase, but I often wonder if he was the father of the three orange male kittens, including Fred, in Carly's litter.

Carly has been spayed since she weaned her kittens last year, and Dennis and I have learned the hard way that cats are older than they look. Carly is still small for an adult cat, and weighs nearly five pounds. We let her out, because she tears up the carpet if we don't. She has lost her kittenish ways, she behaves like an adult cat who is emotionally detached from me, except on rare occasions when she wants me to pet her and re-establish our bonds. She doesn't belong to me, but I belong to her. Dennis, not so much.

I worry about her outdoors, even though she is "street-wise". A month ago, she got into a scrap with a tom twice her size near the backdoor of our house. She had to fight him off, because she was trying to get in the house for safety and got cornered instead. By the time I got to the door, she ran in another direction in a panic to hide and the grey tom skulked off into the woods trying to spit out some of Carly's fur that got stuck in his teeth. I saw her later in the evening, with no scars or scratches anywhere on her, when I let her in for her dinner. She hunts, and leaves her prizes of large bluejays, moles, mice, robins and bats on our doorsteps.

Fred gets out, despite our best attempts to keep him in. He surveys the backyard from the top of our shed or the next door kids' playset like a sultan on his divan. He hunts, a little, not as prolifically as his mom but I think only when he gets bored from sitting in the shade all day. Fred is not a high energy feline. He will chase a squirrel, climbing up the trunk of the pine tree to make a point rather than actually catch the offending critter. One evening I heard a maddening ruckus of a pair robins in a panic, and Dennis found Fred with a baby robin in his mouth, still alive. He grabbed Fred and made him spit out the infant bird, much like Sylvester the cat with Tweety. A few hours later, the little robin was gone. Our theory is that he was learning how to fly, and after seeing a "putty tat" up close, was in shock and flew off when it wore off.

We can't find our camera, but I will post pics of our adult Fred as soon as I can. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos of Fred the Kitten.

Fred napping with Gina (the tortiouseshell on the right) and Sonny (the longhair orange with his back to us--he was the relaxed, laid back clown kitty)

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