Missy Kitty's decorating tips

Friday, January 20, 2012

What I'm about to say will come as no surprise to the lovers and owners of cats.

If you do not like cats, or if you prefer dogs, please stop reading and move on to something that means more to you, like a rousing game of fetch. That will be loads of fun for the two of you.

On the other hand, what I'm about to tell you will be of some interest to cat people. It will be another chapter in the multivolume annals of feline behavior (by contrast, a similar tome about dogs would make a good trifold pamphlet). Or it will touch on memories of similar displays of superior cat brainpower that you've witnessed in your own cats.

So here goes.

Missy Kitty, our current resident cat, has been an enigma since we adopted her from Safe Harbor last June. An adopted cat's past life, or lives, is sometimes hard to fathom. Our late Miss Kitty, for example, was terrified of plastic trash bags. And falling leaves. Why? We have no idea.

Missy Kitty, the new cat, is fearless. She stands her ground when neighborhood tomcats twice or three times her size come calling. Even the pesky squirrels that make my life miserable have taken notice of the tiger-striped hunter hiding in the ivy under the leafless hydrangea bushes.

Missy Kitty's food and water dishes are in the garage, next to her cat tower with its heated compartment for chilly winter nights. Like most garages, ours tends to collect its share of fallen leaves when autumn rolls around. I try to keep them out as best I can, but a few always manage to hide under our cars.

Several weeks ago I noticed that a pin oak leaf had blown into Missy Kitty's food dish. As any good caretaker would, I removed the leaf and discarded it. A couple of days later, I noticed another leaf. In Missy Kitty's food dish. I removed it. The next day there was a new leaf. In the cat's food dish.

The next time I saw the leaf in the cat's food dish, I left it there. After all, there was still some dry food left, and I figured if Missy Kitty got hungry, she could nudge the leaf aside. Indeed, the next time I checked, the leaf was beside the bowl, and the remaining food had been eaten.

That's when a thought occurred to me: What if these food-covering leaves are not the accidental results of wind gusts?

By the end of the first week after I first noticed the leaf in the food dish it became apparent that the leaf was no accident at all. Missy Kitty was placing the leaf over her leftovers. And if I removed the leaf, she would go to the yard, pick out another leaf and put it over her food.

Then came the morning I went to the garage and found TWO leaves on her food. And one over her water bowl. They were as neat and orderly as could be. I had my wife come see what was going on. One of the leaves in the food dish was positioned at a jaunty angle. I laid it flat. A couple of hours later it was back in its original position.

Missy Kitty, it turns out, embraces feng shui.

Who knew?

I did a bit of research on the Internet and found that many cats find ways to cover their food and water. There was even a wonderful video of a cat that drags articles of clothing from the laundry room to cover its bowl.

So, there you have it. Missy Kitty is an artiste.

By the way, years ago, in Dallas, we had a Siamese cat that loved to play fetch. And it was still smarter than the average dog.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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