My cat needs a playlist.

We live close by our vet, and it doesn’t take long to drive there, so I had never really noticed this phenomenon until now.

I was taking the lovely Penwiper (Connie Willis fans may recognize the name) to the vet to get her stitches removed. In spite of our efforts, she manages to be an outdoor cat. She even took to guile to be able to escape; she would stand pressed against the wall in the foyer so she was not visible, and when we responded to her meowing and opened the door to let her in, she would bolt out. She knows when I am coming up the walk, and knows I am slower getting in than other people, so she can dash between my legs. I invariably yell “Stupid Cat!” after her, but in reality she is a very smart cat.

For a very long time she was queen of the neighborhood. Once out, she would head off on her rounds — across the street and half a block down to the park and the school, which she owned. We assumed that she was able to stay out by eating rodents (lots of fruit trees in the area, and she was a fierce killer of vermin*), but we found out that she had been mooching off other families, who thought she was a stray (although she was chipped, we could never keep a collar on her). She loves us (she always comes back in a few hours), but she loves her freedom, too.

This changed a few months ago, when a large gray tom started strutting through our yard. Oscar, as we call him, is so annoying that the normally placid Pandora** clawed her way through a window screen to try and get at him. Penwiper, who had been the victor in several cat fights in our backyard (at least she was the victor, she didn’t seem any worse for wear afterwards***), has met her match.

In the past few months, on two occasions Penwiper has come home with scratches on her side that required stitches. (On the good side, she stays in a lot more now; on the bad side, she seems kind of depressed.) The most recent case was three weeks ago, and today I took her to the vet to get her stitches out.

We have a new soft cat carrier that allows you to put your hand in soothe your cat, which I was doing. (Our hard cat carrier is hated by both cats, and they let us know it.) Instead of meowing piteously the entire drive to and from the vet’s, she was only meowing some of the time. During “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something she sounded as pathetic as could be. As soon as “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters came on, she stopped. When that turned into “Goodbye, Earl” by the Dixie Chicks, she started vocalizing again, sounding almost angry. One verse in, I forwarded to “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran, and she almost started purring.

Okay, so Deep Blue Something and Dixie Chicks out, Billy Vera and Ed Sheeran in. Got it.

I need to figure what other songs are on my cat’s greatest hits.

*She has left rats, mice, and half a snake on our doorstep. I’d say she loves us, and I know she does, but she may also be boasting. Once while outside, she came up to the screen door with a mouse. She waited until she had Pandora’s attention, and then ostentatiously killed and ate the poor thing.

**Pandora has her own quirks: she ignores everyone until Railfan comes through the door from work or school, at which point she throws herself at him, meowing as though she had been left stranded in the wilderness and he was her rescuer. She keeps this up until he picks her up, at which point she lets him stroke her a couple of times before trying to scratch him. It’s a weird relationship those two have.

***Lest you think that we are negligent for not stopping these fights, they usually take place around 2 a.m., and are exceedingly brief. Penwiper may undoubtedly be getting into fights elsewhere, but from the little bits we’ve seen, she holds her own, and then some. Pandora tried to jump her from behind once, and Penwiper turned around and smacked Pandora in the face. (Usually the cats get along well, mostly by ignoring each other.)

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One Response to My cat needs a playlist.

  1. Geri says:

    Penwiper also liked the time that the Redheaded Menace sang “It’s A Wonderful World” a la Louis Armstrong to her on the way home from the vet.

    I’m worried that it isn’t Oscar, but the new dog in the back yard adjacent ours, who is her new match.

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