Monday, August 15, 2011

Cats are people, too

Family is important, including pets. But my cats have ripped the numbers off my keyboard, eaten a door stop, knocked down shelves and broken glassware. They've worn out their welcome at more than one family member's homes.

But I don't feel so alone after this weekend.

Yesterday, my niece, Kim, flew in from Texas with Sean, her significant other. I picked up my parents and we all met at my sister, Nina's, house to celebrate Kim's visit. We sat in the warm shade of Nina's backyard and listened to the gurgling fountain and the cascading waterfall of the fish pond. A bee buzzed by on its way to a fragrant patch of yellow and blue pansies, and birds chirped in the trees.

"This is so lovely and tranquil," I said.

"There are babies in the fishpond," Nina said. "The carp have produced at least three babies. If you stare at the water long enough, you'll see them darting around." She sounded like a proud grandparent.

"Well, it is nice to hear the water and the birds," my mother said.

"Not this morning." Nina grimaced. "One of the cats keeps bringing birds into the house and this morning there was a dead one on my bathroom floor."

We all frowned and I was glad my cats don't go outside.

Laurent, my brother-in-law, went in to make drinks and Nina followed to check on dinner. Kim and Sean settled into the soft cushions of the patio furniture and my father leaned his head back and snored softly.

The screen door banged open and Laurent barreled out, racing across the deck to the side yard. "We need help in the living room," he called behind him.

"Bird, bird," Nina yelled from inside.

Kim and I scrambled up and ran through the open doorway, through the kitchen to the closed door leading into the living room. We hesitated just long enough for Laurent to dash back in, clutching a pool skimming net. He stopped, one hand on the handle, listened to the desperate wails through the door, and threw it open. Kim and I rushed in after him, closing off the escape route into the kitchen. All the doors to the bedrooms were shut, as was the door at the top of the stairs, and Nina waved and gyrated on the stairwell, breathing in short gasps. The front door was flung wide.

“Stand between the living room and hallway and wave your arms,” she begged.

Laurent launched into the hallway with the net, and Kim and I blocked the way into the living room. And there it came, a frightened, flapping hummingbird, down the stairwell, into the hall, up against the front door frame, past our outstretched fingers, and into the living room, Laurent pounding after it, swinging the net. The bird staggered against one wall, up to the ceiling, across the room to another wall, back out into the hall, and down toward the closed kitchen door. A determined Laurent trounced after it, swishing the net.

“Is it bleeding? It is bleeding, isn’t it,” Nina wailed.

It didn't stay still long enough for us to check, as it propelled itself toward the living room. This time Kim and I jumped up and down, flailing our arms, fingers stretched high. The bird veered back along the ceiling and thwacked straight into the net, froze, and slid down the screening as Laurent bounded for the open front door. Just as he reached it, the bird hurled itself out into the safety of the wide open sky.

Outside, on the cool cement of the front porch, sat their black and white cat, watching proudly.

Perhaps my cats aren't so bad after all.


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