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Beating the Sheltering at Home Doldrums

Would the Lion King Shelter at Home?

tabby cat on cement patio
Nutter Butter/Nutter B/Nutters

Nutter Butter, our two-year-old cat recently started balking at the enforcement of the governor’s stay at home orders. He has a cat cage that is the envy of all the cats in the neighborhood. But he has tired of sheltering at home in his well-equipped, if multi-purpose, cat cage.

Nutter Butter’s cat cage

Typically the cats come and go into their cage all day long. At night they are locked in. 

Nutter Butter says, “I’m done with that.”

Twp feral black cats
Feral cat friends envy his abundant supply of food.

As the weather gets warmer and the rains have stopped, Nutter Butter has been venturing out for hours. He’s the pied piper of the feral cat community in our neighborhood. Herds of cats follow him like he is their cat god. 

Cottonwood Creek through a thicket of oak trees and weeds
Cottonwood Creek through a thicket of weeds and oak trees

They head through the back fence toward Cottonwood Creek, which is flowing about an inch deep and four feet wide behind our back yard.

two cats resting in their cage
Nutters watches as Moji plays with her pet lizard.

Usually, Nutter Butter comes home for a snack and nap around eleven in the morning with mud on his paws and burs in his fur. His cat friends take turns sneaking into the cage behind the other cats’ backs for a bite to eat as well.

two black cats on chairs
Moji prefers eating and preening to adventures. Moji and Scardy stay at home and practice social distancing.

Nutter Butter hunts.

All day.

Yesterday he brought home a field mouse, tossed it in the air on our front lawn so that we could watch him play with it during our dinner. The other cats crouched in a circle around him anxious to pounce when their moment came.

They discovered that mice were not as tasty as the gopher served the night before.

Normally, Nutter B. comes home about 5:00 looking for dinner. It’s still light, so we don’t feed him now until 7:00 or 7:30. Our mistake!

Tonight he did not come back at dusk for food. We clanged bowls and called his name. Usually, he sits across the field and perks up his head when he hears his name. Eventually, he meets us half-way across the field and we pick him up and carry him back to his cage to speed up the process.

Tonight when the yellow plastic bowls clapped together in a third attempt to entice Nutter Butter to come home, we thought he was gone for good.

At about 8:00 we found two neighbor or feral cats lounging under the oak trees in the vacant lot, their reflective colloids glowing in the flashlight.

But Nutter Butter was not in the field with them.

He wasn’t on the garden walk where he likes to preen.

tabby cat on a wooden path
Nutters in the back yard waits for his adoring cat followers.

No perking. No Nutter B. anywhere.

Finally about an hour after dark, Nutter Butter ambled across the street into our yard. But he wasn’t interested in us. He headed for the empty lot next door where the families of gophers live. He stood like the Lion King awaiting his followers. 

No one came out to follow him. His cat buddies had already bedded down for the night in the field. They sensed that he was in trouble. 

They watched from a distance as I picked him up and carried him into the house, picking burs out of his tummy fur as I went. 

“Sheltering at home is safer for you Nutters. Mama knows best.”

Instead of hanging limply like he usually does when we carry him, he twisted and tried to go back to his evening adventure. 

“No, you are going to stay home.”

Nutter B. did not agree with my edict and narrowed his green eyes at me. 

I generously took him inside the house to feed him so that his roomies would not eat his food. I overestimated the appeal of food. He refused to eat more than a couple of cursory licks of canned cat food sauce and then went to sulk by the back door.

“I’m not hungry. I want to go back outside,” Nutter Butter said.

I tired of his whining. What did he know about how dangerous life could be without sheltering at home? He had never suffered near-death catfights on the roof above our bedroom or had to run away from coyotes or large dogs out roaming at night. He’d never been bitten by a rattlesnake. 

“You are going to bed and that’s that.”

Cat and pet mouse sleeping
And that was that.

Who knows where he will go tomorrow. Maybe to the beach. He’s a rebel.

7 replies »

  1. Aww, what a great cat, love his coloring, Marsha! My Leon was a night cat, too, and spent his last life in a fight with a younger cat. We put 13-yr old Leon down in July 2018. The warm weather and night critters are too tempting for kitties. But what a nice cat domicile he has!

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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