A Pet Update

A wet cat
The freshly-bathed cat, because crimes deserve punishment

We seldom call Fezzik by his name. (Aela is always “Aela” except when she’s “Doofenshmirtz.”) He’s usually Fezzio or Fezzi. When we brought him home, I had high hopes that he would, like his namesake, grow into a big bruiser who would outshine Piper at terrorizing the neighborhood cats. It didn’t turn out that way. He’s much more “smol boi” than “heckin’ chonker.” Most of Fezzi’s life has been dominated by the dog. Fezzi eats, he sleeps, and he harasses the dog. He clearly loves food more than anything else in life, but the dog isn’t too far behind. That might sound stereotypically cat, but I would hazard to say that he’s only marginally a cat. What kind of proper cat lets humans pick it up and cuddle it like a baby doll? What kind of proper cat sleeps in a toy baby carriage? What kind of proper at lets humans rub its belly? It’s something like 51% dog, 29% stuffed animal, 20% cat. 

Fezzi is strictly an indoor cat. In the US, this might sound normal, but over here we have no air conditioning and no screens on the windows or doors. It’s hard to keep a cat inside in England. He does occasionally wander into the garden to hide under the bushes or sun himself on the patio, but that is the exception rather than the norm. Fezzi has been with us for 17 months, and while he’s had those afternoons in the garden, he has little experience beyond the safety of home. Until last week, when, in a moment of feline hubris, he went adventuring.

He was last seen around 23:00, pouncing my feet. I sent him out of the bedroom and went to sleep. Sometime around 05:00, Carissa woke up and noticed that he wasn’t in his usual places at the top of the stairs or in her office. In a panic, she woke the rest of the house, who had absolutely no interest in searching for a cat at five o’clock in the morning. We did end up searching the house a bit later, but we didn’t find him. A search party was organized and sent out to roam the neighborhood before school. Still no sign of him. Signs were printed and hung from lamp posts. More searching was conducted, including along the roof and over the fences of the adjacent gardens. No sign of Fezzi.

He’s very regal when the lighting is good

A late afternoon rain shower dampened spirits and the neighborhood.

By early evening the tears were flowing faster than the rain. Another search party was organized. Doors were knocked. Flyers were shoved through mail slots. Still, no sign of Fezzi.

Shortly after dark (which is nearly 10:00 PM this time of year), I offered to go for one last search. Carissa and I gathered shoes and headed for the door. Before we could go out, inspiration struck. I ran back into the kitchen and found a metal cup. We added some cat food to it. Equipped with my newly-invented, state-of-the-art Cat Attractor ™, we ventured forth. And immediately saw our neighbors arriving home. They offered to let us look in their garden. Carissa went to look. I took the Cat Attractor ™ for its first operational testing on a stroll around the neighborhood.

Fezzi? Shake shake shake. Fezzi, where are you, you little knucklehead? Shake shake shake.

A cat emerged from the shadows. Too big to be Fezzi, but intrigued by the Cat Attractor.

I kept searching. Shake shake shake. Fezzi? Shake shake shake.

A second cat emerged. Still not Fezzi.

You might think I was losing heart, but indeed it was quite the opposite. The Cat Attractor was undeniably effective. I needed only to attract the right cat. After circling the houses immediately around us, my thought was to try the adjacent streets, but I wanted to let Carissa know the plan before I wandered off into the dark. The neighbors’ front door was still open, and Carissa was still there chatting with them, sans cat. We wished the neighbors well and exited into their front garden, where I demonstrated the cat attractor. Carissa looked over and gasped.

He can run, but he cannot hide

Fezzi was on the waist-high wall between our neighbors’ garden and their neighbors on the other side of them. “There he is.” She rushed for him.

He bolted.

But he was slow. Carissa ran around to the next house and cut him off. I corralled him toward her. Within moments he was in her grasp, only to wriggle out and force us to corral him again. The second time she made sure he couldn’t get away.

The joy was boundless.

He was damp from the rain, and he was clearly shaken by his experiences in the Great Outdoors of Suburban London, but he was alive and well. Carissa took him in for a bath because crimes deserve punishment (and he smelled like pee). I went to the computer and started adding things to my Amazon cart. And that, dear reader, is why Fezzi now has a collar with a bell and an AirTag attached to it. He can run, but he cannot hide.

She’s mostly tongue, tbh

Aela is alive and well. She has, blessedly, chilled out a bit for values of “chilled out” that include “border collie.” She will spend hours a day lounging in the kitchen while I work, followed by hours of dropping a tennis ball into our laps in the unwavering hope that someone will throw it for her. This is a huge improvement over where we were this time last year, which was basically “chew anything that doesn’t move and some things that do (like Fezzi).” There were long months where I clung to the hope that someday I could take her jogging to burn off some of her energy. That hope has at last started to turn into reality, aided by One Weird Trick.

The plan was to let her get to about 1 year old so we didn’t harm her joints with running. That would have been last November, but after the marathon in October, I was only prepared to do small amounts of running in the rain and gloom of another English winter. That should have eased up in early spring, but I was confounded by two things. The first was Aela herself. When I say “chilled out a bit” I mean relative to where she was before, which was basically 40 pounds of hydrazine in a fur coat. Back in the early spring, she was still all hydrazine, all the time. Taking her for a jog was a CHORE, mostly of her trying to drag me as fast as possible to the park so I could throw the tennis ball for her. We joked about getting roller skates so she could pull us along, but I couldn’t afford the sheer number of speeding tickets that would have caused. (Or the hospital bills, you might think, but we don’t have hospital bills in the UK.) The other issue was some health-related stuff that kept me from running for a while. I was able to work through the health things, and at the same time, we discovered the greatest collie-related invention on Dog’s Green Earth.

The Gentle Leader.

That’s a brand name. You can look it up. It’s a halter that looks sort of like a muzzle, and the key thing is that it loops around the dog’s snout and makes it uncomfortable for them to pull on the lead. Aela *hates* it. She tries to rip it off for the first half mile of every walk. Sometimes she succeeds. One time she succeeded in half-tearing off her dewclaw (again!) and bleeding all over the pavement. Mostly she tries to pull it off, I call her names (Doofenshmirtz), and she stops.

Aela likes to help the children with their revision (studying)

We recently went on the best dad/dog run we’ve ever had. Three miles of easy jogging with the dog at my side and a comfortable amount of slack on the lead. I’m not taking her on every run (I need to relax sometimes, too), but at least I can see a future where she’s actually a Good Dog and not just a meme.

As mentioned earlier, Fezzi has an AirTag. Aela doesn’t. Aela does not need an AirTag. We joke that if we took Aela to Wales and dropped her off where we first met her, she’d beat us back to the house and have a tennis ball waiting. She’s a good dog. Sometimes.

The Duchess of Twickenham

On the human front, things are fine. We’re doing some university tours this summer and thinking about the future. We may see you soon, but if we don’t, I’m sorry you missed me.

Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich
Gratuitous food photo: a summer BLT

1 Comment

  1. Yvette Keller

    Thank you for the update! I miss your B&W fur fam!