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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Soxy the freaky feline

A law unto herself....

Soxy is our cat. Our? That’s a laugh. She owns us, well and truly. Everyone knows that about cats. They have slaves; putatively, owners – but ones they can twist around their little claw.
   Soxy came from the animal shelter as a half-grown stray. She had been through a number of households where she was declared too ‘unpetly’ if you get my meaning. Not affectionate enough.
   She’d had to survive on her wits as a young kitten, like the family of ferals that lived in the stormwater drain near the park close to here. That and being shunted round several households gave her an understandable mistrust of humans and defined her relationship with them. All of them, including us. The irony here is that all Tracey and Christian want to do is pour affection and attention on her, and she could have it all, but that’s not her style.
   She’s a tabby – in fact, she was the inspiration for the name of our former video filming and editing business (‘Tabbycat Productions’) before my medical condition blew that out of the water when it was just starting to flourish. Not that Tracey couldn’t have carried it on without me, but it was OUR enterprise and the joy went out of it when it wasn’t something we could share in the same way as before. In any case, looking after me made it impossible when the seizures began.

   That in fact became the problem with Soxy. She had settled in quite well, loving the fire in the winter and tolerating being petted, though hated being picked up. Way too much trust required for that.
   But then, we had to go to Melbourne for my treatment.
   Our wonderful neighbours would feed her for us while we were away, but to Soxy, we, like all other humans she had been in contact with, had deserted her. She still had her territory, which she had to defend against bigger and stronger cats, but she was not going into a house to humans who had left her high and dry once again.
   When we returned, she was totally distrustful. Why befriend humans who just desert you when you begin to think they might be OK? We were her source of food. That would be enough. She would eat out on the front verandah, but she would not set foot in the house again. Even on the coldest nights, she would rather find some hiding place outside in subzero temperatures rather than luxuriate in front of the fire with untrustworthy humans. 
   Tracey and Christian tried all sort of approaches, but to no avail. Feed me, I’ll tolerate you till I’m finished. Then I’m off to my own domain. Supreme indifference.
   YET…. Unaccountably there was the occasional night when we would hear her jump down from the table on the verandah with a thump which was her sign that she would speak with us. If you opened the door quietly she would stroll in, the owner of the premises, and sit by the fire. She might even play with a toy. Then, too much attention, or not enough, or none at all, and she would sit by the door until let out.
   Maybe there was a bigger cat threatening out there at such times, but we could divine no pattern to this behaviour. It was rare and seemed random. It wasn’t on the coldest or rainiest night. She wasn’t even demanding food every time. She was just reminding us of our inferior status. Testing our loyalty, no doubt. This went on virtually all last year.

Green-eyed monster

   These days when I come to the study early in the morning to see who has been writing to me, I hear that familiar thump on the verandah that she uses to announce her presence. Sometimes she even mews pitifully. I open the door, usually standing behind it so as not to make it look confronting. She strolls in, brushing hard up against the front of my legs to tell me to put out ‘crunchies’ as we call them - dry cat food she is fond of.
   This can be difficult for me as I am quite unsteady on my feet when walking to the cupboard where the crunchies are kept. She is constantly in front of my feet, polishing my shins as if they were antique chair legs. One time I actually tripped over her slightly and almost stepped on her. Note I said ‘almost’. She was outraged and ran outside, and refused to come inside for some days.
   She tends to come in a little more often, though invariably food is the primary motive. She affects fearfulness though she is not the least afraid of any of us. She’s just reminding us to keep our distance and let her do the approaching when she feels inclined. We are only humans after all and will go away again for sure. Maybe never come back. She doesn’t want to feel any attachment; it’s too disappointing.
   We will probably go away again, for one last time together for a few days. She’ll feel fully justified in not letting us get under her skin and will probably take ages to get back to this point again.
   But so be it. Deep down, I THINK she knows we’re OK. We’ll do. But.... she’ll just keep one jump ahead of us.


  1. There's your problem - the cat food container should be on the sideboard near teh front door ready to go at a moment's notice. Ok it isn't the best look but anything to keep our masters happy :)

  2. Tabby Cat is lucky to have found such a wonderful family to adpot...

  3. Oh, your 'tabbycat'banner advert is fantastic! Perhaps one day Tracey will take up this lovely litte enterprise again. Who knows. As for Soxy, hmm, pretty typical cat! Some cats just aren't cuddly. We used to make our cat Elfrieda have 'cuddle practice' where we would force her to be held (you vill like zis!!!or else!). Her sister Sheena was always a strange combination of both cuddly and terribly suspicious. She just knows that we (esp Michael) is going to murder her ANY MINUTE. Even after 18 years.. But as for trust -why should animals trust humans. They want to love us but we so often betray them; just like children, really. I have just betrayed a family of cats living behind our chook is full of such hard choices and we see plenty of them in the country.Tonight I watched in anguish some crows trying to steal from the nest of some wagtails, who were fighting valiantly.But crows must survive too...Soxy is not the only one struggling in her own way.

  4. Dee - been there, done that. She still demands 'fresh' ones out of the sealed container. Needs a kick up the backside really....
    Anne - yes, she IS!!!! She should be in a hayshed catching mice really, and earning her keep. That's why we had cats when I was a kid! She'd probably prefer it actually. [We had carpet snakes instead to keep the mice at bay.]
    Julie - if you picked Soxy up she'd tear you to pieces! Or maybe you have a special way with feline freaks.... :)
    Cats never forget and they rarely forgive. And you have done the native wildlife a wonderful service by your 'betrayal' of that feral family.
    The only way you can help the wagtails is to have some dense protective bushy areas that crows and currawongs can't penetrate. I think you have these already but they don't or can't always make the best choice. I am on the side of the wagtails and the blue wrens.


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