Walking with the cats {3}

March 9, 2011

Todays obligatory walk with the members of my cat family was a bit tiring and my feline friends were undisciplined and unwieldy. Wendy has again joined the walks, so we are five now (including myself). The cats often have differing ideas about which route to take and especially Rosy goes regularly her own way and is meowing angrily when the other cats are not following. In such a case I have to wait till my friends reach a common position and are ready to continue in whatever direction they have decided to go. That can take up to eight minutes.

No, I don’t try to herd cats. They are much too intelligent to follow a leader blindly and uncritical. One can train a dog to follow commands, but not a cat — a cat will never be dumb enough to follow commands. A cat has to be convinced that it is in her/his interest to follow a suggestion, commands are simply ignored.

So we needed an hour and a half for some three kilometers crisscrossing the wood. I had to stop various times and wait for my friends and I had to call them frequently. We started at dusk and when it became dark I used my LED torch to show them the way. This LED torch is an extremely useful tool. It has a bundled, nearly laser like light. I bought it for one Euro, the rechargeable batteries I had already, this was indeed a worthwhile investment.

When I switch on the torch, I can see the cat eyes shining in the dark. Cat eyes have a reflecting layer, called the tapetum lucidum, outside the receptor layer of the retina. That makes them see better in darkness, but it also means that they are located easily with a lamp. At one point when I thought I had lost them I switched on the torch and there they were, not far behind scattered in the underbrush.

I can hardly describe the feeling that I have when I switch on the torch and see four little pairs of yellow dots either jumping around in the underwood or following in a row behind me. It is a mixture of fun, gladness, ease, and elation. If the cats would know how much I enjoy the walks with them they would be even more unruly and disorderly.

So please don’t tell them!

I mentioned already in other blog posts that the forest is filled with mysterious and strange sounds. In winter it was more quiet but now as the winter comes to an end the birds and all the other inhabitants of the forest raise their voices again and fill the air with their wonderful music.

Today I had to contribute to the forest symphony with my not mysterious but maybe strange calls (strange to the forest inhabitants). I called: “Min Ki, Rosy, Cindy, Wendy”, quite often. That are the names of the cats. My feline friends know their names perfectly well, they even understand which of their fellow cats is meant. I know that because when I call for instance Min Ki she will turn her ears and the other cats will look at her.

The cats know their names very well and if I am lucky and they are in the right mood they may even react to my calls.

Cats are wonderful teachers of patience and calmness.

I remember that last year the forest went quiet when I started calling the cats but today the forest symphony continued uninterrupted. The animals seemingly have gotten used to my daily visits and they regard me as a natural part of the environment now.

I feel honored! Dear friends in the forest, I will never betray your trust. And I will fight for you and try to defend your habitat. Unfortunately my means are limited and I cannot defend you against chemical pollutants, pesticides from neighboring fields, ozone, and the perils of climate change.

I also could not defend you against hunters — what can one do against a gun? Fortunately this part of the forest is right between the areas of two hunting organizations and the hunters spare it because they want to avoid conflicts between them.

Please my friends, stay here in this part, you are comparatively safe here. And for the other dangers that threaten your life:

I will do what I can, I will fight tirelessly!

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