There’s a mouse in the house. He’s cute. He’s small and fat and has the kind of face that would make a great Beatrix Potter character. All he needs is a jaunty little hat.
He’s not a new pet. He’s a field mouse, probably an adolescent, who came in under the door using that almost supernatural ability mice have to flatten themselves and squeeze through any space. You’d think he would’ve chosen a house with less cats. Any house in the neighborhood would probably fit that bill – since this house has seven.
Over the years, quite a few dogs have passed through my life. Lady, my cocker-spaniel/retriever mix, was with me for eighteen years. I found her – or more accurately – she found me while I was working at a small animal shelter just outside town. One look into those big, brown eyes and I was hooked. Other dogs, like Missy, a wire-haired beagle and daschund mix, were mine to keep for only a few months before they found their permanent homes.
Tig sits staring up, her gray and white face tilted quizzically. It could be a moth or even a spider on the ceiling. But it isn't. It's the kitten. The kitten is on top of the curtain rod. How the kitten got to the top of the curtains is a mystery, but she seems very proud of herself. She fluffs her tail to full pipe-cleaner capacity and hops in sideways fashion along the top of the decorative curtain balustrade. The kitten is amused. Tig is not.
I’ve come to distrust the loyalty of cats. From my desk I can hear George scratching at my back door. The sun is starting to set, so, as usual, I know he’ll be waiting scruffy and desperate on my back doormat. I’ll open the door to find him sitting silently with his tail tucked around his legs meowing piteously for his dinner, the perfect picture of the luckless stray. Indeed, when I first met George and his feline associate in crime, Fionna, I thought they were strays. Of course, it was only a day or so before I discovered that they live only a few doors down from me and, indeed, spend most of their day indoors.
My kitty had a lump. It developed almost overnight on her right side near her back leg. It felt small, hard, and perfectly round like a little marble lodged under her skin. I wasn’t that worried about it. Mammary cancer in younger cats, especially those who were spayed before their first heat cycle is very rare. There’s a slightly higher risk factor in Siamese cats, but Morwen is your average, American shorthair with a bit of Bombay thrown in the mix, a sweet little kitty with a smooshed in nose and big yellow eyes. It certainly wasn’t mammary cancer, but maybe it was a lipoma, not unusual in cats, although not usually quick-growing or hard in nature. Lipomas, of which my elderly cocker spaniel had many, are usually squishy, round lumps filled with fat. Older dogs and cats often develop them and they are, usually, not dangerous. My cocker spaniel has had more than one aspirated and another two removed, all of which were benign.