Monday, March 14, 2016

The Sweetest Songs

Luna (left) and Sirius wait with me while Ranger takes his long post-walk drink from the front yard birdbath. Cedric had already gone inside for his dinner. 

My daily walk with Ranger is more than a two-part harmony.

Our three kittens often join in to make our ritual a full-on symphony.

When we return, Ranger and I are often greeted as welcoming heroes. As we turn into our neighborhood and cross the last quiet street before stepping into our yard, our friendly little cats turn out to meet us and greet us, each in their own way.

Today was a perfect example.

Sirius, the tuxedo cat, chose to wait in the bushes along the neighbor's yard. As we strolled down the sidewalk, Sirius pranced along with us, safely sticking to the protected side of the shrubs until we all three reached the corner at the same time. Then he cautiously stepped out to cross the street with us, purring his greetings as he accompanied us all the way to the front door.

Luna, the black cat, typically prefers a more dramatic entrance. He lurked in the bushes in the far front corner of our yard until the instant that we stepped onto the grass. Like a bullet, he shot out in front of us, galloped across the wide open space, and flew up to the door where he sat down on the welcome mat to watch us approach, casually licking a paw in silent satisfaction.

Cedric, the grey tabby, elected energy-saver mode. He was found sleeping on the front porch love seat, and raised his head as we approached. Tail flicking a friendly hello, and his outrageous purring motor set to high, clearly it was our job to greet him rather than the other way round.

* * * * *

My cats are not inside cats. Nor are they pure outside cats. These fellows have the best of both worlds; we let them in and out as they desire, often a half-dozen times a day.

Territorial beasts that they are, my boys don't go far. Mostly, they sun themselves in our enclosed backyard, in any one of a dozen coveted sleeping spots, and when they are ready for a bit of sport, climb about on the fences to stir up the neighbors' dogs and do a bit of exploring. Thankfully, we live on a quiet street filled with pet-friendly people. My cats are even playmates with the other neighborhood cats - we often find a little gang of them romping together in our backyard. And whenever we humans open the door and call to our boys, they almost always come obediently running.

Yes, we do worry sometimes. On hot summer nights, the cats often choose to sleep outside and we hold our breath until they greet us at the door the next morning. On wet and wild stormy days like today, I pray that their shelters are dry and snug, and that they will remember to duck their little kitten heads when the branches go sailing by.

But pets are like children. As much as we want them always to be safe, we can't wrap them up in bubble wrap and stash them in the closet. To live full, happy, well-rounded lives, my cats simply must be allowed to play outside. Just as we do for our human children, we parents of pets must take as many precautions as is reasonable, then open the door and say, "Good luck out there. Keep your head on straight and come back safe."

And though we worry about our furry babies, the moments when they safely return are the sweetest songs of all.

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