Metro-East News

Wally Spiers: As we get older, herding cats becomes harder

Since I had some work to do the other day in the small greenhouse that attaches to the back of the house, I left both the greenhouse and the basement doors open to let the sunny afternoon in.

While I was doing that, a couple of our cats worked up the courage to saunter out and check out the backyard.

One was a veteran who sneaks out of the house frequently but often wants back in shortly because he is afraid of some neighborhood cats who are frequently outside, although his cat pride won’t let him admit that. The other cat who went outdoors doesn’t get outside at all and never seems interested. But there he was, cautiously sniffing his way around the yard.

I was able to keep an eye on them so they didn’t wander far, but as I got busy working, a third cat wandered outside. I looked up to notice that this cat, which is a psycho recluse, was just sitting there.

I went to bring her back in and she ran through our jungle of plants and disappeared.

I went back to work, figuring she would come in eventually. The other two grew bored and returned as I worked. But no sign of the recluse. I didn’t worry because either the light rain starting to fall or the approaching darkness would bring her back, I thought.

Anyway, I was ahead, two cats inside to one outside. The fugitive probably was under the front porch and safe. Under the porch is closed off, except to cats and groundhogs who tunnel under the lattice, so I didn’t try to get her out. I went to bed.

The next morning, still no cat. That afternoon, I saw her outside but still she wouldn’t come to me. Since I had neither a live trap nor a big net on a long pole, I couldn’t catch her.

This went on for much of the evening, with the cat often just a few feet away, mewling because she wanted back inside, but running anytime I came nearer.

When it comes to cats, human beings are not built for this much frustration. You can talk all you want but cats never understand — or care.

Finally, she came near the greenhouse and I was able to open the door and let her run in out of the night. I was so relieved — until the other two cats ran out. Now I was behind, two cats outside, to one cat inside.

One of the cats came back in with a little coaxing but the other spent the night outside, coming back in when I went out to breakfast the next morning.

This worries me greatly. As I get older and slower, the cats maintain their quickness. I guess I am doomed to a life where I never open an outside door again.

Wally Spiers: Wally.Spiers