THE ZOň DIARY
By Ruth Lane Kanter
This is an account of my two-week gig as a cat-sitter with a very
rambunctious, yet tender-hearted, three-year-old Abyssinian female named
ZoŽ. Her Mommy is my friend Helen Ashmore, and we all live in Edmonton
Alberta Canada. We were blessed with a very mild winter this year. Truly a
Jan 13 2006: The first day of cat-sitting with ZoŽ, she was looking out
the window when the hair stood up on her back. First chance she got she was
outside and pounced on her prey. She didn't drag it back in the house
so maybe she lost it -- or ate it.
Jan 14: Today ZoŽ hid herself in the back yard until later in the P.M.
Then she slept on the bed with me. A certain level of acceptance???
Jan 15: ZoŽ hissed at me when I tried to remove her from the living
room. She sat on top of the fridge, hissed some more, and tried to claw my hair
when I passed by.
This was all because she did not like her dinner and was ejected from
the living room when she was naughty. She doesn't see that it's her fault
she's being given the bum's rush; she thinks it's my fault. She likes being
in the living room with the heat from the fireplace very much.
The living room I sometimes called 'the Forbidden Room'. ZoŽ could only
go in there when accompanied by a human. She loved the Forbidden Room. She
could curl up before the fireplace and warm her haunches; she could sit
quietly on the couch and look out the windows; or she could tear around
the room and sharpen her claws on the furniture. (The last was the reason
she was not allowed in there without supervision.)
Jan 16: Something should be said about ZoŽ's relationship with her food
bowl. Like most cats she was finicky, but usually hunger won out in the end.
Her accustomed mode of behavior when being confronted with food she did not
like was to scrape her paw repeatedly beside the bowl, the way she does when
she buries something disgusting in her litter box. In other words, "This
food tastes like you-know-what!"
Today my offering to her was so foul, she appeared scared even to go
near it. But usually she would eat the worst of it down to the last crumb
eventually. Likewise today, but her meal came up faster than it went
down. I resolved to feed her only food that was delicious, and not that other
stuff, just because there was lots of it in the cupboard.
Jan 17: ZoŽ and I spent most of the day in front of the fireplace. Are
all cats as lazy as I?
Jan 18: Today ZoŽ rolled over and let me scratch her belly.
Jan 19: ZoŽ likes to drink water straight from the tap. Today she sat by
the sink, expecting me to read her mind and turn on the tap. She looks so
cute lapping up the fresh water with her little pink tongue!
Jan 20: She saw another cat today! Wowie! ZoŽ was crouching at the edge
of the stairs to the deck. I thought she was just calmly surveying the
garden. I did not see the other cat casually approach her. Perhaps he did not
see ZoŽ, nor smell her, or perhaps he was trying to make friends. But he
was sadly mistaken. ZoŽ leapt on him with a scream that would have made a
Banshee proud. The intruder was promptly chased from ZoŽ's territory. I
went to get her from the back alley when it was all over-nary a scratch on
her. I don't know about the other guy.
On the way back to the house, ZoŽ hissed at me a couple of times. I
don't think she had any hostility toward me, just great distress in general.
She really doesn't enjoy these inter-cat altercations.
Once in the house she went straight to her bowl and wolfed down an
enormous quantity of cat food. Combat must get her digestive juices going. Then
she exhibited some very strange behaviour. Her head gyrated in a jerky,
uncoordinated manner, she bit at her paws, and her tail was bent into a
zigzag. I suspected epilepsy, but she did not lose consciousness.
Jan 21: I stroked ZoŽ lavishly today, as many other times, and told her
how pretty she was. I think she is starting to appreciate that I mean her
no harm. She certainly basked in the attention.
Jan 22: Last night I made a big boo-boo. About six o'clock in the p.m.
ZoŽ and I fell asleep in the Forbidden Room -- with the gas fireplace on. The
doors were closed so the room got hotter and hotter. I awoke at three in the
morning with ZoŽ standing on my chest. The room was stifling and strangely
perfumed. I figured out later that the scented candles Helen kept in
the room had softened enough to give off their fragrance. But oh my God!
Helen's gas bill!
Today I was keeping ZoŽ out of the living room for a while after my
fiasco with the fireplace. The amazing creature! She swung her head quite
deliberately, unmistakably gesturing to the door of the Forbidden Room.
She wanted to be let in. The only difference between her and chimpanzees
that use American Sign Language was her paws were made the wrong way for
Jan 23: The day she caught a bird, I was afraid I would have to dispose
of the poor half dead thing. I had heard of ZoŽ's prowess as a hunter.
The bush was full of birds that day. She didn't sneak up on them; she just
calmly walked beside the bush and leapt up at them to catch one on the
wing (rather like a dog with a Frisbee). Or perhaps the bird just flew into
her mouth. When she brought it back on the porch it was wedged head-first
between her jaws. She was headed for the back door. The bird's feet
were working the air.
"No you don't!" I said, "Anything you catch, you have to kill and eat
outside." ZoŽ put down the bird on the porch, the better to take a good
look at it -- and it flew away! Good thing I had kept it out of the house. Can
you imagine it flying around in here, crashing into windows and spreading
blood all over the place? ZoŽ went to her food bowl and once again pigged
Jan 24: Today, for fun, I put a dab of butter on ZoŽ's nose just to see
what she would do. Well, she licked, licked, licked, licked, licked, licked,
licked, licked, and then she licked, licked, licked, licked, licked,
licked, licked, licked some more. In fact it took a full two hours before she
licked herself completely clean, glaring at me all the time.
I could do nothing but abjectly apologize to her, and she received my
apologies graciously and with great dignity. The thought crossed my
mind: "Why doesn't she ever apologize to me?" This was my last day with her.
Jan 31 Epilogue
I visited ZoŽ a week after her Mommy Helen came home. ZoŽ seemed wary
of me, but Helen affirmed that the little cat remembered me. Yes! She wanted to
play. She hid under the sideboard and trembled her ears at me, pretending she
was afraid. After I teased her with my foot, she skewered my toe with one
of her claws. I hollered in mock pain much to her delight. Then she wanted me
to throw her toy mouse around so she could pounce on it. Yes! Yes! ZoŽ is