The last time we saw her was in December, now 7 months ago. She came in like a Queen, Mistress Of All She Surveyed, Bean Sidhe’s little girl-friend. And she came in with a vengeance: the force of her purrsonality flattening all three felines of the male persuasion in da House (one of them who had yet to be neutered at that point) into meek submission… This female kitling, that endeared us by being none too shy yet displaying a feminine grace unbelievable for mere mortals, and of whom we wondered who would own her because she was obviously well-groomed albeit none-too-well fed… Miepmuts (you have to be Dutch in order to understand the reference), Vahiné (because she is so graceful), You-ling (Chinese for “ghost”)… what names we could come up with and yet she remains a mystery. After we grew wroth with her when she soiled Bouncing Psycho’s bed not once but twice she disappeared back into the winter cold from whence she came and didn’t return.
And now she’s back.
A couple of days ago she suddenly wandered in again, made a bee-line towards the feeding bowls and set to seriously shoveling the grub down. As if she never left. There were some small differences though: the size of her body, she now being an adult she-cat, and the fact that her milk-factories had seen heavy but past use which indicates she had kittens and they are already weaned. But as she was 7 months ago she was thin as a wisp and hungry as a lion. It didn’t take her that long to locate Hrimnir’s food-bowl a few meters apart and thoroughly raid it as well. She also displayed an intense hostility towards any feline approaching. This lady is quite combative and it shows. Her kittens haven’t been weaned that long yet…
Today, as yesterday, she visited us again, for the purpose of feeding really. I must confess that the food at the House of Chaos is always of quality and certainly in abundance. Even more so with a new kitten in the House. From the moment Hrimnir came to grace the House of Chaos with his charming purrsence I have been feeding him special kitten-food and subsequently Bean Sidhe has had a growth-spurt of Olympian proportions (him technically still being a kitten despite his 14 months now it shouldn’t have surprised us I guess, yet I shudder at the thought of the consequences would I have continued to feed him kitten-food in the past year instead of putting him on adult-food at the age of 6 months). This high-quality kitten-food made by Whiskas is packed with nutrients, vitamins and all kinds of other goodies the still-developing body needs for optimum growth. And mind you… it’s also exactly what an until-recently-lactating she-cat needs !
Even though You-ling is not our cat I cannot begrudge her the food. She is welcome whenever she wants (as long as she keeps away from the attic where Bouncing Psycho resides and his clean bed-sheets beckon) and despite her hostile attitude towards the feline denizens of the House of Chaos everybody here admires her chutzpah and poise. Not to mention how the sweet and kind disposition that she displays towards the simian residents would endear her to them. I just wonder to whom of our neighbours she belongs. Not to the ones who live behind us where Knar lives, and I happen to know they too set aside food for feline visitors so You-ling needs not to go around hungry. Maybe she belongs to their neighbours who told me they have 3 kittens. She can’t belong to the people next to them because the husband is allergic to cats. And I know for a fact that our own neighbours don’t own cats. Mystery, oh mystery…
Like Knar, lovely You-ling is too clean to be feral, too well-behaved and certainly not shy towards humans. There remains only the worrying fact that she is terribly thin, but her recent pregnancy and weaning of the kittens might have something to do with it. In any case, her comings and goings, and even more so the reactions of our own feline companions to that, displays to us some of the more intricate and interesting workings of feline society. It is a marvel to behold.
Cats have territories. When territories border on each other the cats work out a complicated system of border-checks and trespassing-rights. Sometimes the borders can overlap. Sometimes parts of the territories are communal for some reason or another, like a prime feeding or watering spot, or a handy shelter. Yet the cats always work it out amongst themselves and the rules governing these border-issues are strictly enforced. In the case of You-ling and the House of Chaos we have two interesting examples of these rules of territory:
1. In our case the territory that is made of the House of Chaos, the Garden of Chaos, and the adjoining gardens, is a joint operation run by the four HoC males. It is not unheard of that cats share a territory when they live in a group for whatever reason, forced or voluntary. Despite the belief that cats are solitary animals they do need company, certainly from time to time, and will seek each other out on occasion. Ever since they chose to live with the humans the cats have accepted that others of their species will join in the fun and comfort as well and have subsequently established a modus vivendi, allowing them to live in groups and even sharing chores like hunting, babysitting the kittens, patrolling and defending the turf. A cat bringing home his kill is in fact delivering food to a group-member. Because our 3 adult cats are neutered, and the fourth will be come October, they have no hormonal issues clouding their inter-feline relationships. Virile tomcats would certainly try to chase the competition out, spayed ones might do so too if they feel like it as I know Zorro does from time to time. Even though they don’t really like each other that much I have once witnessed how Loup-Garou and Zorro brotherly attacked another cat and chased it away. They made a good tag-team really. Our cats will rally at the sign of an interloper. They rule the roost together. It shouldn’t surprise you then that when You-ling or Knar came calling all feline denizens of the House of Chaos were present within minutes.
2. You-ling is still young and female to boot, whilst all four of the feline denizens of the House of Chaos are male. It is normal for male territories to overlap with those of females, if only for the most practical of reasons: being able to visit the missus when the time comes certainly would spring to mind but to the practical tomcat it actually means being able to keep an eye on his entire harem. So it is ingrained in the male psyche to welcome the signs of any nubile female moving in somewhere in the neighbourhood and this instinct runs so deep that it even overcomes spaying. The male cats will tolerate You-lings presence, in fact have tolerated it already, because she is a young female. How else could she enter the House of Chaos unmolested and go feed herself at will ? Young cats are also tolerated when they take up free space or manage to worm their way into an existing partnership if they manage to stay their ground and more so if they have been introduced by an existing group-member. Not true ? It was Bean Sidhe who introduced You-ling to the House of Chaos and gave her a tour around the premises the first time she came in. It was Hrimnir who escorted Knar inside for a snack. Both cats are now allowed unhindered entrance. This did not happen a few years ago with Caramel (4 year old neutered tom – kicked out so many times he got the message and moved out to the hospital nearby) and Misj Masj (female kitten – kicked out so savagely she got run over by a car) !
Now I keep hoping You-ling does have owners and that they will have her neutered soon. She is too much a magnificent and beautiful she-cat to be wasted to multiple births and the hardships of nursing.
Yeah, she’s here, in OUR house, shoveling OUR grub. What are you going to do about it simian ?
Why, invite her over to the Carnival of the Cats of course…