Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My cat is a chicken.

Olive, relegated to the front yard.
That is, my cat is a scaredy cat. His name is Olive, named by my youngest daughter because he is a dark, smoky gray. He's kind of shaped like an olive, too. But he's handsome, if slightly bug-eyed. He's always been a timid cat--easily frightened by just about anything. He rarely puts in an appearance when visitors come over. But he's also my muse, stretching out sleepily next to my computer, or sitting on the floor willing me telepathically to add more food to his bowl.

We weren't sure what the cats would think of the chickens, but have been surprised by their practiced ambivalence. Olive is really the only one of the two who is allowed to go outside. The other one, MuShu, likes to bathe in the middle of the street. He is not the brightest crayon in the box, and therefore must remain indoors, but he does escape occasionally.

Olive has always been my garden cat. If I'm working in the garden, he likes to join me. The garden was his happy domain.

And then, the large birds showed up. I watched one morning as he moved in slow motion, inching closer to them, conjuring invisibility. The chickens paid him no attention. He moved closer, not wanting to appear interested, but wanting to get close enough for a good look.

He approached Marigold. Slowly, cautiously, with all his feline stealth. She looked at him.

He stopped and slowly turned around as if he hadn't really meant to notice her, making no sudden movements. Marigold eyed him imperiously, then suddenly took a few hurried steps with her beak leading the way, appearing as if she was about to peck Olive's behind. Olive jumped a foot in the air then ran as if his life depended on it, landing back in the front yard. 

Marigold turned around, unruffled, and returned to busily pecking and scratching for bugs.

It was a few days later when MuShu--on a rare foray outside--decided he might like to stalk and get close to them. But as soon as he realized he was spotted, he, too, ran, his dignity in shreds.

Hen-pecked. My poor cats have lost their claim to the backyard. They will sit and glower at the chickens from time to time, but have lost all interest in approaching them. Their new domain is the front porch and the front garden. Occasionally, if I'm in the backyard, Olive will walk over and claim me, with a wary eye on the chickens. As soon as one moves in his direction, he's gone.

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