More Files from Exile

Again I don’t know what I’m going to write about. I have to write myself into the inspirational corner but depending on the size of the room it might take a while.

Behind me I hear the boy cat coming. Bob and his sister Betty will be one-year-old in June. We adopted them from a cat rescue organization in Eugene called CRAN. (Cat Rescue and Adoption Network). Bob is seropositive for FlV. (feline immunodeficiency virus), so we got him at a discount. In my long experience in keeping cats, I’ve found multiples more interesting that just a single, even though most cats do not always share my opinion.

I hear Bob coming because he snorkels. He has, according to our 12-year-old veterinarian, underdeveloped turbinates. In kittens, these honey-comb-like chambers of the cat sinus are pliable and only solidify with maturity.

The CRAN people’s vet treated him with steroids. Dr Reid—he’s really not 12, but you know how much younger doctors get as one ages—grew alarmed at this, telling us corticosteroids, which act on the immune system, would not have been his first choice for an FIV positive cat. The hope was his snorkeling and snoring was asthma. Antibiotics were trialed, and of course, didn’t work. One of my friends, also an amateur cat expert like me, comfortably told me, “He’ll grow out of it.”

The thing is, as one of the cat rescue ladies told me, “It doesn’t stop him.” He is still a kitten, and plays as such. He and his sister prefer plastic bags for toys rather than expensive hemp-woven catnip mice. These cats are, by our choice, indoor only cats, a promise I made to myself for many reasons, one of them being CRAN’s desire that Bob remain an indoor cat. Bob appears to have accepted his fate. Males by nature have larger territories than females, but Betty is the escaper.

She plans her dashes for freedom by employing surprise and subterfuge. After we finished the catio, an upstairs deck leading from the rumpus room (the remodelers of this house, in constructing a master suite loft over a tiny 1920’s bungalow, addressed the oddity of the roof by installing a large, long, empty room with no particular designation or central heating). Using hardware cloth, bamboo fencing, and temporary construction-fence plastic mesh, we sealed the deck—thoroughly cat-secure, we congratulated ourselves.

Betty found its one weakness, a small gap between the plastic mesh and the bamboo, and leapt from the catio onto the roof of the sunroom.

Cats never explain where they’ve been, or how they got there, but when they want to come back, if they need help they will ask for it. The husband heard a plaintive meow, and triangulated it to the sun room roof.

We don’t know how long she’d been there, but he got a ladder and she was more than ready to be captured and brought back into the house.

Finding the fracture in the catio, we mended it, and no more escapes have been attempted that way. But the back yard sliders, and the front door and side door, require watching, both by her and by us. She’s gained success several times, even though we are ever more vigilant when letting the dogs in and out. Generally she makes for the opening under the deck and vanishes into its cob-webby darkness.

Our back yard is pretty secure, but a cat will exploit it’s one weakness—that we have not uncovered yet—in order to roam. Mostly we just wait until we see her predictably emerge from under the deck to begin the hunt.

So far she allows me, if I am slow and quiet, to get close enough to her to pick her up. She doesn’t fuss as I carry her back to the house. One day, she’ll get smart, maybe, and learn to evade me, but now she is young and loves being held.

Bob does not like to be picked up—he pulled the “enter” key off my keyboard with his claws one day when I tried to remove him. He’s stiff in my arms, but doesn’t squirm. It’s as if, being the runt of the litter and mostly hand-fed, he becomes resigned. What are they going to do to me now?

They both have little chirping meows that make us laugh. Betty has a white lower jaw and white paws—she’s a steel-gray tuxedo. Bob is solid in the Russian blue style, although he is a mutt like his sister.

Life in exile would be a lot less fun without them.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


More Files from Exile — 2 Comments

  1. I’ve been reading and enjoying your posts for a while, especially the bits about life in Albany. I grew up there, and though I’ve lived away almost 40 years, it’s still ‘home’ in some ways. The Reids were our family’s vets – both for pets and farm animals back in the day, and while I don’t know this generation, I’m sure you’re getting quality care

  2. Thanks, Jill! We had an escape artist cat who required constant vigilance when we opened any door. He also learned how to pop open cabinet doors to hide inside. And, yes, we love our critters! Especially now that they are our main socializing.