Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sam and Frodo - or the Case of the Missing Brains

Meet my permanent boarders, Sam and Frodo. That's Sam on the left and Frodo on the right. They'll be 2 years old in September and I adopted both males from one litter in December, 2008. They are, without question, the most even-tempered cats I've ever come across. They have never lifted a paw in anger at anyone. (That doesn't mean they didn't leave my hands and forearms full of scabby lines while "playing" when they were kittens.)

Here's an example of how non-aggressive they are. Since I spend a lot of time far from my home in New York, they frequently stay with my friends Robb and Jo. They live in a two family with Robb's parents who have three... no, four.... wait, maybe it's up to twenty now.... cats of their own. (Robb's Mom and Dad have very big hearts and they can never say no to a homeless feline that decides to take up residence with them.) Naturally, some of these residents resent the intrusion posed by Sam and Frodo. On one occasion, while the Brothers Longiaru were peering out a screened window, one of the cats from next door approached on the outside and started hissing at the boys. Sam and Frodo kept looking at each other and then back at their challenger as if they couldn't figure out what the other cat was trying to do or what the proper response should be. So they just sat there, bemused.

Although they were clearly given an extra helping of heart, they were a little short-changed when issued brains. They have always yearned to roam free on my 1 acre Ponderosa. Thus every time I head for the door on my screened patio, they are always somehow right there hoping to slip out for a quick jaunt in the fresh air. If I wish to enter, all I need do is scratch the screening outside of the door frame where they can't see the source of the noise. When they run over to investigate, I rush inside and close the door. I've literally done this hundreds of times, sometimes several times a day, and they are still falling for it.

They also have a fascination for the interior of my dishwasher which remains undimmed although they have investigated it 8452 times to date. Every time I open it to add a dish or two they have to put at least their front paws on the door and poke their head around the spokes with an expression of wonderment on their faces. Once in awhile they used to jump in completely to really get a close look. Luckily they've gotten big enough where fitting their legs around the spokes is no longer an option.

But the award for all-time stupid behavior goes to Sam. About a month ago late one evening I started to hear a continuous and blood-curdling shrieking emerging from somewhere near my house. It was the sound of an animal in great distress and it went on so long that I finally hauled out my flashlight and headed for the patio door to investigate. Once on my patio I could also hear the sounds of a coyote pack behind the continuing screaming of whatever animal was nearby. The most likely scenario for all the noise was that a coyote had gotten a small animal (like a cat perhaps?) and was tearing it to pieces or whatever coyotes do to their prey. I turned on my flashlight and pulled open the door, my eyes trying to spot the source of the trouble. And then Sam ran out between my legs!!!

"Sam!! SAM!!!! Get your ass back here IMMEDIATELY!! Do you want to be coyote dessert?? SAM??? GODDAMN IT!!!!"

And where did Sam head? Right to my decorative and expensive plantings around the house where he began happily munching away. He decided to risk it all for some greens!!!! Naturally I ran after him but just as I would reach for him he would scoot a dozen or so feet further down the plantings and resume his snack. This was repeated I don't know how many times as we slowly worked our way around the entire house. And all the while the shrieks "in extremis" continued unabated. Finally, when Sam had obviously had enough to rid himself of any and all hair in his digestive system, he deigned to let me grab him and throw him back on the patio.

Now that I think about it, maybe Sam wasn't so dumb. He never left the safety of the perimeter of my house during his entire excursion. And of course, my continuous proximity, enforced by the presence of predators, insured no coyote would come within 100 feet of him. Hmmmm... if he had thought this out in the split second he had to make his escape then maybe I'm the one whose a little short in the brains department.

I mean, what if they're only pretending to be dumb so I'll wait on them hand and foot on the assumption that they're too incompetent to be left to their own devices?

My God, I'm being manipulated by my own pets!!!


  1. The Tolkein Tabbies are bound to have a bright side...of course they are gentle & good named them SAM & FRODO.. you named them after hobbits... (I had a cat named Gandalf...he was near brilliant..taught himself how to use the toilet after a brief moment of observation). Remember..Hobbits are also brave in their way & love gardens, especially SAM! You established their persona's with the names you gave them!! LOL :)

  2. So you were the one with the toilet-trained kitty!! I've been trying to remember where I heard that cats were able to do that. I almost put it in this post as an example of brilliant felines but changed my mind.

    The names were actually suggested by friends who arranged the adoption but I saw a lot of those two hobbits in them. Sam has a fearless, sunny disposition just like his namesake. Frodo is a sweetheart but has a darker side: he has a hard time trusting anyone or anything. That's not really Frodo the Hobbit's issue but the hidden depths of his personality, revealed while on the quest to return the Ring, offers telling parallels to the feline Frodo's personality.

    Thanks for the feedback and for reminding me of the Tolkien connection!

  3. Great story about Sam Gamgee Longiaru, and Frodo Baggins Longiaru. Don't forget to mention when Sam went to tackle Frodo and what happened to him. : )