Thursday, May 4, 2006

Cat Fighting

Our outdoor kitty (Sophie) snuck into the house last night. She does this on the rare occasion that a door is open for longer than ten seconds at a time. And once inside, she freely roams about, investigating every nook and cranny, without discovery. Well, not by the Oblivious Humans, anyway.

How does she manage this? Are we so blind? Is she that good?

She's a master of camouflage, as it happens. No, she doesn't have the unusual-in-a-mammal ability to change her coat at will, blending into the floral wallpaper pattern or turning some obscene-for-a-mammal shade of burgundy to match the dining room walls. She simply looks exactly like one of our indoor cats. So, to four Oblivious Humans who have better things to do than pay attention to an all-too-familiar feline shape under our feet, she is that other indoor cat.

But then the rightful indoor denizens get all bent out of shape over this impostor's presence in their territory. The elder cat, Jezebel, will stalk Sophie, sniffing her with gynecological interest, growling at her and generally menacing her with her amazing bulk. You know how cats arch their backs and spit in order to appear larger than they are? Jezebel simply is larger.

Anyway, last night it happened again. Kyle and I were in the living room, watching Sean and Bethany as they free-style danced/moshed about to music, when we heard a series of unusual thumps from the kitchen. Assuming it was just Jezebel being a bit graceless, or possibly wrestling with Junior, we did nothing. But then the growls and eerie shrieking began. Have you ever been awakened in the wee small hours of the morning to cats screaming outside your window? It was that kind of sound.

While Bethany freaked out and ran to Daddy, I went into the kitchen to see what was amiss. Jezebel and Junior can really mix it up sometimes, but I'd never heard them sound so pissed off. Well, there was Jezebel, her hair standing on end all over her body, right down to her tail (which looked like a bottlebrush), towering over Junior (?), who appeared less aggressive than he usually does in such confrontations. Junior will often take advantage of his slinky speed to jump on top of Jezebel, pinning her down and riding her like a bucking bronco. (Though with no penetration, I should add. Because you've come to expect that sort of detail from me.)

But no, he (?) was cowering down, in full defensive mode. And then Kyle noticed Junior (the real McCoy) observing events from the corner of the dining room. Aaaaaah, mystery solved. This was Sophie full-on getting her ass kicked by Jezebel. I watched as Sophie scurried into what she assumed was a safe haven: the cat box, which is something like a big, deep Rubbermaid tub with a lid on it. It has a hole for the cats to jump down inside.

This was an unwise move, as the cat box is of course the holiest consecrated ground on which a cat can stomp (and crap). Now she had crossed the line. Jezebel got nastier than before, ready to tear and chew through the heavy-duty plastic box to get at that uppity bitch. Time for intervention. I merely opened the kitchen door, suggested that Sophie remove herself from the premises, and she did. Drama over.

Jezebel strutted around the house for a bit, looking smug. I patted her on the head, thanking her for defending her territory, even though Sophie lives there too. It's a weird thing with cats.

As cool as Jezebel is, though, she has never brought down a squirrel on her own. Observe Sophie, settling in to enjoy her recent kill.

You can see that even though each cat believes that life is grander on the other side of the windowpanes, each cat is right where she belongs. Jezebel would never tolerate the extreme elements outdoors ("Me? Outside? In this 75-degree furnace?? I think not!"), and Sophie would soon tire of getting only the occasional spider inside the house, instead of her accustomed backyard banquets of moles, voles, mice, birds and squirrels.