Meet Patches, the family feline. Amazingly sociable and friendly, yet, fearless. Patches just turned four years old this month. Because we live in the country, she is an indoor/outdoor cat. We couldn’t turn her into a little princess if we tried. There’s too much to do out here in the woods. Patches has field mice to chase and ground squirrels to torment (she leaves these victims at our front door as gifts) Another thing about Patches, she suffers from gender confusion. She believes she is a tomcat. Her best friend is the neighborhood tom, who has taught her everything he knows about being a tomcat, including spraying things to mark her territory. Oh, nothing happens when she thinks she is spraying something, but she‘s making her point well known.
I will give you another tidbit of information, Patches behaves very much like a dog. That could be because we’ve never been cat people, we were dog people. We adopted Patches’ mother four and a half years ago when she wandered upon our porch one night, skinny and starving. We treated these cats the only way we knew to treat a pet. Like a dog. Our neighbors seem to get a kick out of the fact, Patches follows us everywhere we go. We walk around the neighborhood, she follows us just like … a dog. When it’s time to go home, we whistle and say, “Patches, come!” and she always obeys the command. When she has to do her business, she scratches on the door to let us know and we open it for her go outside. She's never even seen a litter box. But that is where her similarity to the canine ends. By no means does she care to socialize with the neighborhood dogs. In fact, she is a bona fide dog-hater. If we didn’t know that before, we know it now. We have two new dogs in the neighborhood. A black lab and a white lab. Ebony and Ivory, we call them, although we have no idea what their real names are. In the photo above, you can see that she didn’t take a liking to Ivory and was defending her territory last Friday. No way was she going to let Ivory come on the porch to play with her family. NO-WAY! She nipped that little problem right in the bud. Today however, was a different story. Ebony bypassed Patches somehow, came on the deck and had the audacity to eat her tuna and liver flavored cat food! Paul got home and caught him in the act, just as he was finishing off his meal with her water! Poor Patches, just waking from a little cat nap was down in the yard looking up at Ebony in disbelief, then at Paul in disgust as if to say, “Your going to let him get away with that? You coward! Do I have to do everything around here?” Patches arched her back like a cat and growled like a dog until Ebony decided he’d had all the fun he could stand, then he barked at her and left. I don’t know if Ebony or Patches won that battle. He did leave after she warned him, yet he’d already helped himself to her lunch. So that’s a tough call. Ivory has only come back as close as the driveway, but he’s refused to enter the yard after their standoff last week (which you see up there in the photo) Patches won that battle, hands down.
That’s what I admire about Patches. She may be confused about her gender and she may behave a little like a dog, but she knows that this is her home, by-golly, and no dog is going to come into her yard if she can help it. Of all the times I’ve seen her approached by dogs, I’ve never seen her back down. She stares them down until eventually, they leave.
Five things I’ve learned from my cat:
1. The one who meows the loudest, gets the milk.
2. If you never back down, you’ll win your battles.
3. If you waste your time sleeping, somebody will come along and stomp all over your territory. Stay awake, be watchful!
4. You don’t have to be a male to know your territory and how to claim it
5. If you’re treated like a dog, you’ll act like one.