Friday, March 02, 2012
A Gift for You
"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.
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."