Olive

Frog Report

What happens when you want to get rid of a family pet?

You ditch the dog (or cat) and tell the kids, “We sent him to live on a farm, in the country.”

That’s fine… unless you already live on a farm.

What then?

Well, you try to foist your beast onto someone else’s farm.

That was my plan for Toulouse, our bully barn cat.

Toulouse is a 2010 model, acquired in a package deal with his sister, Olive. As I recall, we got those kittens around Halloween; Toulouse was coal-black like a panther, and Olive bore orange stripes.

Both have proven to be avid hunters, but Toulouse is a true hitman. Year ago, when voles invaded the yard, Toulouse dismantled their tunnels and devoted two straight days to rodent eradication.

Toulouse: “be the vole, be the vole…”

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Unfortunately, this summer, our black panther added Frog to his list of prey.

(Frog was also adopted as a kitten with her brother, 11 years ago. She was named by the cat lady’s daughter, who desperately wanted a pet frog. The name stuck. The kid called her brother “Cool,” but we opted for “Mel” instead.)

Pictured: Frog & Mel, wrestling on the deck, 10 years ago.

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Our cat colony has existed harmoniously until a few months ago, when Toulouse turned on Frog. After repeated beat-downs, Frog disappeared from the scene. She simply vanished.

And Toulouse moved along to beating up Mel.

That’s when I announced: Toulouse has gotta go. I posted a Facebook plea and a few folks stepped up to take him. But they lived nearby and I worried that he might be hit by a car while hiking home again.

Life got busy and project “panther placement” was shelved. I didn’t have time to deal with feline relations.

But now I have an update:

Frog has returned! She floats between our property and the neighbors’, and has staked out the back pasture and the culvert beneath the driveway — territory less traveled by the black panther. She still visits our barn to eat, but only when Toulouse is out hunting.

So for the time being, the cats — Mel & Frog, Toulouse & Olive, and odd-ball Felix appear to be coexisting.

And I’ve turned my attention to evicting another barn dweller:

Oh Possum 2.0.

Here we go again

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The Interloper

Olive is our sweet, affable — but dimwitted — barn cat.

Of the farm’s five felines, Olive is slow to respond to kids, cars and other threats to life and limb. Dopey Olive, we often say. She’s a few bricks short of a load. 

But Olive does possess an unwavering desire to lounge indoors. Leave the screen door unlatched…. crack the mudroom door to unload groceries…. and she skulks in, and bee-lines for a bed.

Once detected, she is discharged.

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Lately however, Olive has adopted a new tactic. She is a stealth, nighttime interloper.

Let me set the scene. It is 5:30 am. The house is relatively dark and I stumble groggily around the kitchen — assembling lunches — while my mind pedals through the day’s to-do list.

It is cricket-quiet and I presume I’m alone, until an abrasive SCRATCH-SCRATCH-SCRATCH rings out. I stifle a startled cry before spying the cat, clawing the couch.

Unceremoniously, I heave Olive out the door.

The next morning I’m lost in thought, when the cat freaks me out again, her darkened shape writhing in the living room shadows.

“Hey!” I yell at the kids when they emerge later. “Someone keeps leaving the damn door open and the damn cat is in the house, scratching up the couches! Shut the door, okay?”

Blankly, the kids stare back; none of them fess up.

Olive announces her presence over four consecutive mornings — clawing a different piece of furniture each day — until it dawns on me: 

This cat is beating the odds.

In the cellar I discover her entry point: she has popped out a broken, jagged window pane. The same window that I featured in my second-ever blog post, way back in 2009.  

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At the time, wise old Drippy stalked me from a perch by the basement window. But he never breached the glass barrier. He never puzzled it out.

Perhaps Olive is not as dimwitted as I thought.

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Catatonic

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Our orange cats, Mel and Olive, share virtually everything: food dishes, water bowls and sleeping quarters. They also look alike, with the same pumpkin hue and tabby markings. Few people can tell them apart.

But truthfully, color is the only commonality. These two cats live worlds apart.

Mel has a hankering to hike (chronicled here.) He has ambled the length of the drive and crossed Chet’s hayfield oodles of times. He’s also completed the neighborhood loop (a mile-plus in length) and is undaunted by high grass, violent weather or strange animals. 

Think marathon walker, feline style.

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This penchant to perambulate can be infuriating. Often, Mel wanders directly in front of us, and on a moonless night, we trip over him three or four times.

But on other occasions, his presence is comforting. Like the night I walked the dog late, in the pouring rain. I was feeling glum and sorry for myself, until I noticed Mel, trailing my puddled footprints. Sodden, Mel plodded faithfully along.

Then there’s Olive, the picture of inactivity. I’ve mentioned her before (and blogged about her listlessness here.) Her sloth-like behavior is epic; she channels a limp dishrag.

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Cayden & Olive, a couple yrs ago

 

Most recently, Olive’s been driven to sleep on our bed. She lurks by the house and waits for opportunity: an unattended door. Then she sneaks inside and darts up the stairs to our room. If she’s detected, she beelines for the narrow, inaccessible slot under the bed frame… and emerges when the coast is clear.

Olive is maniacal in her quest to sleep on our bed.

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But the kids are equally maniacal about ejecting her from the house.  

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Brynn & Olive, a week ago

 

And after scrolling through my photo library, I’m not so sure that the cat is the manic one.

Maybe it’s not the cat…

It could be the kids…

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Hadley, at 18 mos, with Drippy, 20 yrs old