Madison Monday: Cat Town

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cats
Gilly, longing to be outside

I seem to be writing about cats a lot lately on my blog.  I think it probably has to do with their strong presence in my life.  And by strong presence, I mean the fact that when I sit down to write at my desk in the morning, there’s a cat sitting on my computer.  And there’s another cat sitting at my feet watching me expectantly.  And when I lay on the couch to watch the first full day of NFL football, there’s a cat laying on me.  When I do my morning yoga, I have to negotiate my downward facing dog around the cats swirling under me.

I tell my husband that though we only have two cats, it feels like a lot more.  Sometimes they remind me of sharks in their constant motion, swarming around the house, waiting for one of us to show a moment of weakness.

In the mornings lately they’re particularly “attentive” to me because I’m the one who lets them out.  For most of their lives in our house, our cats have been strictly indoor.  Except for the moments when Gilly would make a break for it and run frolicking out in the backyard, they stayed inside.  Living downtown, and fairly close to a street with a steady stream of traffic, I never felt particularly safe letting them out.  And then there are the other cats.

I don’t know what it’s like for other folks living in downtown Madison, but sometimes I feel as if this is really Cat Town.  The cats live here.  They’re here to stay.  We’re just visitors they tolerate.  My evidence for this proposition?

1.  The copious amounts of cat poop in my flower beds.  I call it mulch.  The neighborhood cats call it pine-scented kitty litter.  They especially appreciate it in the spring when I lay down a whole new, unsullied layer of the pine-scented kitty litter for them.  This prediliction of theirs makes sitting in your backyard smell like sitting in a large cat pan.

I have discovered that cutting up citrus rinds and scattering them around is something of a deterrent, as are coffee grounds.  But it’s a losing battle.  If a cat wants to poop in your flower bed, it’ll poop in your flower bed.

2.  The cat opera.  Before I lived in downtown Madison, and in fact, before the last year or so, I never fully appreciated the word, “caterwauling.”  Now I realize this might be the most perfect word in the English language for almost exactly describing the insane noise that cats make when they fight and, well, the other F word.  I’ve heard my own cats growl at each other and hiss.  I’ve heard the really terrifyingly distressing meow that our cat can produce when she’s being driven in the car to the vet.  But I had never experienced cat opera.

cats
Ruling the world (and our house)

Cats are operatic in their volume and in the range of their vocal abilities.  They are operatic in the pure overblown drama and intensity of their singing.  Like opera singers, they sound like they are experiencing a range of emotions thankfully foreign to me.  And like opera, it’s not something I really enjoy listening to, especially when it’s taking place right beneath my bedroom window.  There have been nights when the caterwauling is so loud that my husband has gotten up to go downstairs, open the door, and add his own, more human, screams to their little performance, which stops them for approximately 10 minutes before they get going again.

3.  The cat walk.  On a more pleasant note, any walk around Madison is almost certainly bound to include some cat sightings.  I like seeing other people’s cats, cats who live on the other side of town, and therefore poop in someone else’s flower beds and wake someone else up at 3 in the morning with their performances.  Perhaps it’s true that cats at a distance are better than cats up close?

Especially if you’re walking around Madison in the evening, you’ll see cats sitting on stoops, crossing streets, prowling down alleys.  Unlike dogs, they won’t bark at you or even wag their tails.  At their most generous, you’ll get a meow.  It’s more likely that you’ll get a short and disdainful glance.  I like seeing cats as I wander around the streets of Madison.  But I’m definitely not giving any of them my address.

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