Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Balancing Act

Have you ever watched a cat tiptoe along the top of a fence? The calico cat I had growing up did this all the time. Her delicate paws pattered along the edges of the wooden boards like she was walking on air. She even patrolled the railing of our second-story balcony. Once we saw her use her position to launch an attack, snatching a bird from flight in mid-air. Another time my mom saw her fall. She rushed outside and peered down into the yard, to see the cat miffed but composed, walking daintily away from her crash-landing site in the yard.

My husband and I got a cat a few years ago. She had the worst balance of any cat I'd seen or heard of. She fell off the wide rim of the bathtub--good thing she loves water. She tottered on the backs of chairs until they crashed and she ran away, tail puffed. We refused to let her out on the third-floor balcony.

Miraculously, though, she got better. She no longer falls into the bathtub. She knows to not put all her weight on the back of a folding chair. We still don't let her out, but I wouldn't fear for her life as much if we did.

Sometime, obstacles are thrown in her path. She recently had to wear a cone around her neck because of self-inflicted licking wounds on her belly. After we put the enormous collar on, she would slink away, ears back, head bobbing, front legs lifting in an exaggerated manner as she took one step after another, her head catching on every bump in the carpet. When she had mastered that, and she wanted to get on with her normal routine, she would fling herself at the kitchen table, conk the heavy cone on the edge, and fall, scrabbling, back to the floor. We felt so sorry for her we eventually took the cone off and just watched to make sure she didn't overlick herself.

The wounds have healed, and her balance is back better than ever. She careens around the house, banking off of walls and sliding across the wood floor before darting under a bag or bookcase. She leaps to the top of the bookcase next to my desk so she can scare me by crashing down on my notebook right when I'm most absorbed in my work. She now scales the back of one of our new chairs with her bare claws and hides under the fabric cover I put on it. She's only fallen off once, that I know of, and it didn't spoil her fun.

No comments: