Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My catless garden

This is my first summer in many years of gardening without a cat.

Wait, you may ask. What does a cat have to do with a garden?

Let’s back up. In December, Blue, the stray cat we’d adopted eight years ago, died of cancer. Losing a pet, as most of you know, is wrenching, and I felt his absence in many ways.

No furry gray face outside the French doors in the morning. No nonverbal questions meowed when I arrived home after an outing. No soft, purring body on my lap in front of the TV (unless you count my husband, but he doesn’t exactly purr).

Then there’s the garden.

Our standing joke, each spring when my husband fired up the rotary tiller, was that our cat thanked us for remodeling his bathroom. While Blue made himself scarce during the noisy part, he always reappeared to poke his nose into my activities when I began planting.

Many times, I had to lift and move his curious, attention-seeking self out of the way. Whenever I stood up for a few minutes, I invariably returned to find him curled on my kneeling pad. And, after planting, I learned to arrange old wire tomatoes cages across the freshly turned earth to prevent him from digging up what I’d so lovingly buried.

Once the tomatoes and zucchini sprouted, Blue went on patrol. He might not be big enough to tackle a possum or a raccoon, but we never had to worry about invading rodents.

This summer, for the first time in memory, there’s a squirrel hanging around our yard. I have nothing against squirrels per se, but in the last few days I’ve started finding a tomato here and there, laid out on the patio with a bite missing.

Call me stingy, but I’m not keen on sharing my produce with animals. It’s a daily scramble to pick every tomato that’s even faintly pink so it won’t attract unwanted attention.

As for stray cats to pick up the slack, they seem in short supply these days. While I realize most people would consider that a good thing, I could use a little help around here.

Still, I balk at importing a cat. These days, the received wisdom holds that cats belong indoors, and I don’t want an indoor cat. So I bide my time until one shows up who’s already proved he knows how to survive in the great outdoors.

Who knows? He might turn up any day now.


Ellen said...

I hope the perfect outdoor cat wanders by and decides to stay a while. Wish I could send you a couple who live around here!

Michele Dunaway said...


I second Ellen! We have Doofy (that's what we call him). He lives with us and the neigbhor across the road (we're each on 5 acres).

Doofy is there at the backdoor in the AM and comes back every night. He lets us pet him. I don't even want to think about the day Doofy isn't there. We had that happen with Louie, who came with our previous house.


Estella said...

My neighborhood abounds with stray cats!

Megan Kelly said...

Jackie, Your story of Blue touched me. My cat ran away when I was a child and I learned as an adult I'm allergic now and can't have a cat. There's a gorgeous one who lives in the sewer and prowls around our house, but the neighbor is feeding it, and since he's a bachelor, I'm letting him take possession. I hope you find the perfect cat soon.