Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Henry's outing

The other day the children and I were making a fuss over Frowst, our most glamorous cat, as is our wont. Frowst spends most of his time outdoors (a petcam we fastened to his collar revealed that he spends much of his life lying in the crawlspace under our house, broken up by occasional bursts of energy spent climbing various trees), and when he comes inside, he likes a good meal and a good petting. Because he is so beautiful, a luxurious-furred black animal with a regal bearing, we are more than happy to oblige. The one naysayer is the Sober Husband.

"I don't see why you guys make such a big deal out of Frowst," he said critically.

"He's so beautiful!" we chimed.

"I think Henry is more perfect looking."

"He loves to be petted so much."

"If I even touch Henry, she sticks to me like glue. She craves attention."

Spurred by the accusation that she might not appreciate Henry enough, eight year-old Lola spoke up. "I love Henry, too! Don't you remember that tantrum I threw when Henry was going to spend the night out?" She spoke with pride, as though a good tantrum were a thing of beauty to be marveled at. Of course we remembered, although not with that same admiration and pride.

Recently some friends of ours who live nearby and know of my proclivity for rodents had an issue with mice. They were working at keeping all food secured and at sealing up all entry points, but those are difficult tasks in a large, older home where a baby lives, a baby who drops Cheerios with abandon. I suggested predator urine crystals, which scare off any prey animal and are non-toxic. I also said that getting a cat wasn't necessarily going to fix things, particularly as we've had cats who loved to catch mice and then release them in our bedroom in the middle of the night to showcase their hunting skills. (Once I had a wild mouse in our bedroom for three days before I managed to catch him and release him, and there was a particularly horrible night involving a partially paralyzed mouse dragging itself along our floor. The cat responsible for this had gone downstairs for some cat chow, satisfied with a good night's work). Oddly enough getting a pet rat is a much better mouse deterrent, as mice are rightfully afraid of rats and will stay away from territory which has been claimed by a rat. All the time I had pet rats, I had no mice, even though our old neighborhood was heavily populated with both mice and wild rats.

But of course getting a pet rat is a big step, and a much lesser commitment would be a loaner cat. I offered the services of Henry as a deterrent for a few days. Henry was the logical choice as the children refused to let Frowst go anywhere, and our other cat, Al, is frankly incompetent as a cat. We brought Henry over with some food and a litter box, and Lola fretted as Henry settled in. Henry paced about and let out some yowls, but she seemed to be settling in and she definitely had a strong interest in the air vents which were the suspected mouse entry point. I kept reassuring Lola that Henry leads a dull life and needs some adventure, a little shaking up, but Lola was fretful. Then the Sober Husband suggested closing the glass door leading to the deck, worried that Henry was going to harm the screen. As Iris held Henry, our friend opened the screen door in order to close the glass door, and Henry was off like a shot. She exploded out of Iris's hands, across the deck, and down the stairs at the back. I followed her down three flights of stairs, calling her, and Lola was on my heels, crying hysterically.

"Lola! I'm not going to be able to hear Henry with your crying," I said. "Go get your father!" But Henry was not to be found on any of the levels of the decks or in the fenced yard. I could see a place in the high fence where Henry could easily have gone into the next yard, and from there, over the neighbor's lower fence. I called Henry, but with no luck. Lola's sobs were deafening.

The Sober Husband proposed setting up camp right there in our friend's yard (I felt terrible for our friend, having all this melodrama breaking out), but I wanted to go back home and look for Henry on the way. "Henry will be disoriented, she's never been this far from home," the Sober Husband said direly. Lola screamed even more hysterically. I glared at the Sober Husband and said, "Lola, Henry's going to be fine. She'll run downhill and find her way back home." "Henry's never been to this block before; I can't imagine she'll find her way," said the Sober Husband darkly. I shot him another glare. "One of us will need to spend the night outside with cat treats," the Sober Husband continued, as Lola sobbed, crying, "Henry! Henry!" through thick tears

Back at home, I hushed Lola. Iris and I thought we heard Henry's collar jingling. Sure enough, when we called, Henry slowly came out from the backyard and stood at the steps to our house, the picture of affronted indignation. Clearly Henry felt betrayed, and she did not want to go near us or go into the house. I scooped her up and carried her inside, where she settled down on a chair and began an extended, ostentatious grooming, restoring her fur to order after her ordeal while ignoring all of us pointedly. By the next day, Henry and Lola were both back to normal, Lola left only with the triumphant memory of her epic fussing and Henry with more inscrutable memories.


Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn't have the petcam on Henry that night! Do take care, as lost pets and upset children can be very trying and vexing!


Silliyak said...

Explain to SH that the feline droids have homing chips which most often lead them back to their primary recharging station.

Anonymous said...

Please write a book, my dear.

hughman said...

omg, everything about this made me laugh. picturing you, the SH, lola, the friend standing confused and overwhelmed by your family drama. i can only imagine how lola will spin this story in the (near) future. you may end up holding a gun and shooting all cats near the yard while she throws herself on the ground in henry's defense and the SH cowers in fear at your evil retribution.

NonymousGoatsePants said...

I take personal affront to this story! There is no possible way for anything named Al to be defective.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Hugh, I imagine Lola telling the story something like, "Remember when you GAVE AWAY HENRY??? And I cried and cried, but you still GAVE AWAY HENRY??"