Friday, March 02, 2012

A Gift for You

We are awakened in the wee hours to the sound of bells chiming like nautical reindeer past the gatehouse, down the ramp and up our transom. DrC launches himself abruptly skyward. I put out a hand to stop him, "No. Don't worry. No kill."

"What?"

"No announcement, no kill."

This makes sense to my husband who, apparently not actually awake, simply flops back into somnolence and resumes snoring. It occurs to me to wonder how many patients were the beneficiary of this half-asleep wakefulness during his medical residency. In the meantime, Dulcinea rummages around the salon for a few minutes while she waits out the latest summer squall.

Dulcinea doesn't like summer in Auckland. Like the rest of us, she is waiting for weather that could be more reasonably credited with the sobriquet summer. Chill overcast mornings, frequent squalls, long days with no sun whatsoever, this is hardly summer. Dulcinea doesn't like prowling in the rain. Rain is wet. Wet is bad. Bad is not good. Not good means we must all suffer her frustration and unhappiness. There is scratching of the scratch post and nibbling at the nibble bowl and slurping at the slurp bowl. There is thumping up on to salon seats, bunks, cockpit benches and the boom. There is thumping down off seats, boom, and benches. All this activity is accompanied by the cheery sounds of Dulcinea's collar bell, only the most recent in my husband's efforts to prevent our cat from decimating New Zealand's precious wildlife. Then the squall stops, Dulcinea ventures out, peace and quiet descends, and I drop back into sleep.

Some unknown time later, bells chime and DrC repeats his leap out of bed act. This time I let him. Dulcinea is yelling about how wonderful she is, announcing to all and sundry that she is the most magnificent hunter on all the dock. I can also hear a buzzing whirr of wings. Experience compels me to tell my husband, "Beetle." In other words, don't bother getting out of bed. By the time you get up there, she will have eaten it. First, however, we must acknowledge the kill. I call out to my cat, "Good kitty. Wonderful kitty. Shut up you lovely wonderful hunter. Just eat it and shut up." This is all said in the most loving tones. It reminds me of those times when the girls were small and suckling at my breast when I would say in the most sweet, motherly tones, "Of course mommy loves you, you little shit. I can't believe you woke me up at 2am. Now just suck it up and go back to sleep, beautiful girl." A loud crunching sound from the salon affirms my conviction that it is merely the tone of voice that matters in situations like this one. Beetle wing sounds disappear, yowling stops. Quiet again.

The days when Dulcinea brought us wingless, legless crickets and laid them on our chest are long gone. I believe the night I launched her out the cabin, down the hall and halfway to La Paz was probably the end of that routine. Now she brings her catch only as far as the salon where she waits until she receives proper respect and accolades for her skill and cleverness. As soon as she catches something, she exults in her superior hunterlyness, shouting to the world about the wonder that is Dulcinea. As a rule, the yowling starts somewhere in the parking lot, then she'll trot past the gatehouse and down the ramp, across the dock and up into our boat chattering about the event all the way. The incongruity of her chirruping, shrieking merrowwing combined with the friendly tinkle of bells wakes me every time.

She is a very loud cat. She is probably the loudest cat in all of New Zealand. She is also an extremely good hunter. While we crossed the Pacific, Dulcinea focused her attentions on the squid and flying fish who inadvertently launched themselves into our orbit and from there succumbed to Dulci's voracious appetites. Here in Bayswater, she gives every domestic housecat a bad name as she brings home mice, birds, bugs, and on one memorable occasion a foot long rat. Worried that perhaps we might somehow be single-paw-ed-ly destroying a New Zealand endangered species, I verified with the harbor staff that there are no kiwis in Bayswater. In fact, there is nothing particularly precious in our neighborhood. The staff is all for Dulci eating the mice and rats, don't mind so much the occasional finch, and are rather hoping she'll take a liking to the flying roaches.
It's not as easy being the proud parent of such a voracious hunter, however. If Dulcinea were silent… if she could just eat with her feline mouth closed… it wouldn't be so bad. The nightly ritual, however, in which either DrC or I must go up, examine her kill, pet her, and then stumble back to our beds has grown stale. A few nights ago, her catch was a small bug of indeterminate species. She had it eaten before I had even turned around and started back down the companionway, upon which she started yowling again. I spin on one heel presented with the sight of that damn cat sitting next to her bowl quite clearly demanding that I feed her. "It's three o'clock in the morning and you couldn't be bothered to catch more than a half inch beetle and you want me to feed you?"

Apparently so.

Did I mention that she is loud?

Tonight, we are awakened by a third hunting alarm. Patting my husband on the shoulder, I go up, fill the dish, toss a cricket overboard, pat the cat, rub my tummy, and go back to bed. As I climb in, my husband mutters at me asking what I think I am about. "Why do you keep going up there?"

I groan as I settle back into the sheets, "I am completely pussy whipped."

5 comments:

jomamma said...

This is why we keep our cat in at night, that and the fact that she only brings in snakes... she left one on the hubby's chest one night. It didn't go well.

Kyle said...

lol, this was a great reminder of my childhood, Toast ... we lived out on 5 acres near Port Ludlow and our black cat 'Leo' was a semi-feral terror that brought home increasingly large prey culminating with the dead mountain beaver he and the dog were standing over when we came home one day ... I now realize the dog was trying to tell us "quit leaving me alone with Hannibal Lectpurr every day!" My dad's seemingly endless patience was finally exhausted when he found that Leo had been hiding under a lumber pile and playing handball with hummingbirds as they tried to fly out the window at one end of the garage when the garage door was open. He was not amused by the collection of little bird skeletons Leo had amassed, and took a 'Sopranos' style walk in the woods with Leo. I was told he had 'disappeared' ... yeah right.

Viking Star said...

Wow, not sure I realized you cat had a Braveheart Face!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy things worked out with you getting Dulcinea into the country, and she's been with you for so long! I would be petrified of loosing my cat, not to mention taking her across the ocean to all the exotic places you've visited. She's truly a Konger cat: bold and self reliant!

Send Gifts to Pakistan said...

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love-then make that day count!