Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Special Breeding

WARNING: a multitude of expletives below. Only some of it is of my own doing. The rest is quoted material.

NOTE: I know there's a lot of juicy stuff going on in Trenton right now, some really mind-boggling idiotic, blog-worthy stuff, stuff that just doesn't happen anywhere else: a Mayor Gone Wild; a number of high-ranking officials blatantly breaking the law; a completely irrelevant school board voting against the will of the people, and for something they ultimately have no say over anyway, since the state has a long history of hosing the Trenton school system; and a terrible crime spree this weekend. But here's a little personal story, for fun.

Glen came home from work on Friday and said, "You know, I was bored at work, so I googled 'liger' and they're real."

"No they're not," I said, thinking about the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, in which the main character, Napoleon, proclaimed that the liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger, was "pretty much" his "favorite animal."

Napoleon Dynamite's "Liger"

"Yeah, they are. I saw it on Wikipedia."

Instant credibility. Glen evoked the name of the great online encyclopedia, and so, I believed him. Though I had to check it out for myself. I won't bore you with all of the details of the liger, except for a couple of quick notes: a Liger, as Napoleon says, is the offspring of a lion and a tiger, specifically a male lion and a female tiger. Napoleon's drawing is supposedly closer to that of a Tigon, the offspring of a male tiger and a female lion. And it turns out there are a number of interspecies hybrids in the animal kingdom — a lot of which are in the cat family. Cheetahs can mate with leopards, and they both can mate with lions and tigers too, although all of this inter-cat sex stuff generally does not occur naturally, but rather, at the hands of meddling humans. Stupid, stupid humans.

But I kept reading, despite the fact that it pisses me off that humans meddle too much with animal breeding, and because the world — particularly my neighborhood — already has way too many cats that were originally bred into being at the hands of humans, and are now fucked. I kept reading because there's something about genetics that appeal to my geeky side, which is pretty much my whole being.

So. Let's back up a bit. Last February, nearly a year ago now, my sister Karen was moving from her house, and staying temporarily with my other sister, Jenny. Karen had a cat, Brodeur, named by her son, Eric, for the New Jersey Devils goal tender, Martin Brodeur, not so much because Brodeur the cat looks like Brodeur the goalie (in fact they have no physical traits in common, except that they are both mammals), but simply because my then 5-year-old nephew just loves the goalie so much, he wanted to name his cat after him. However, Jenny and several of her children have cat allergies. So Glen and I were keeping Brodeur, then maybe about 8 months old, temporarily, until Karen found a new place to live, which, we were assured, would be soon.

"Soon" is a funny measurement of time, though, isn't it? Especially when one is cat-sitting someone else's cat without defined time parameters. A month quickly became three, which quickly became six, which became nearly a year without much effort. And Brodeur is smitten with me, though not as unnaturally as Platooski is with Glen, and enjoys his kitty friends, and has carved out a happy little life for himself here on our little corner in The Hood. And it doesn't look like Brodeur is moving out any time soon, partially because Karen is not permitted to have a cat in her new place, and her son, Eric, may or may not be allergic, but also because it would simply be wrong to pull Brodeur away from what he certainly views as his home and his pals.

Brodeur, the cat

There is a hitch. Glen kind of, well, completely hates Brodeur. Brodeur has been a challenge, to be fair. He is young; now, only about a year-and-a-half old. He is full of energy, and bizarre quirks — more bizarre than average cat quirks. He's got a funny, complaining squeal, rather than a meow. And he is huge. He is simply the hugest domestic cat I have ever seen in my life, without being fat. He is long, and muscular, and I would guess about 20 pounds, though Glen is saying maybe only 15-17 pounds. I don't know really. But he's still young. He plays fetch with us, usually entirely too early in the morning: he'll bring us a rubber band, or a little mouse toy, and deposit it at our feet, much like a dog would. We throw it, he brings it back. We throw it, Brodeur brings it back. If we grow tired of "Six A.M. Fetch," he sits at the end of the bed, and makes that weird complaining squeal sound, like a spoiled, whining kid, until one of us throws the toy down the stairs, hoping that it winds up some place where the damn cat can't find it.

And then there's this whole weird water thing. He will bat the contents of his water bowl out of the dish, and onto the floor. With obsessive-compulsive drive and meticulousness. If there's a food dish near the water bowl, with food it in, he displaces the water from the waterbowl, and adds just enough water to his dry food to make a gravy. Pretty smart, but totally outside the norm. Glen left for work one day last week, and it must have been an uneventful-in-an-animal-sense morning (they aren't always, and we're all in for a world of pain if Glen encounters any animal unpleasantness or shenanigans, particularly in the morning). I got up a short time later, and there was a crime scene in water, strewn about the kitchen. I have never seen anything like it. Splatter, cast off, and puddles; the perp, nowhere to be seen. I cleaned it up, and went on my merry way, not saying peep about the incident to Glen, since we instituted the "need-to-know" policy around here regarding the animals last year.

Brodeur also sits atop the fishtank*, and in the one very small opening in the back of the lid, will get his arm into the tank, up to his shoulder, swatting blindly for fish, but usually hooking one of the plants, and pulling it out of that small hole, victoriously. We chase after visitors to close the toilet lid, and the bathroom door, just in case. And like other cats I've known, he will drink from your water glass if you leave it low enough, and unattended. Except, after awhile, he will try to bury the glass, with, I guess, fake and/or invisible dirt. I don't know.

There's more to the water thing. After he has sufficiently soaked his legs and his underbelly in one of the vessels of water in our home, Brodeur will find his way to the nearest glassy or enamel vertical surface, and frantically — as if being pursued — make an ineffective wacko digging/wiping motion against it. He never extends his claws, so there's never any real damage, but he has smeared the hell out of every window in the house, the laundry machines, the fridge, the fishtank, the framed photo above the fishtank, and occasionally, one particular cabinet in the kitchen that doesn't quite close properly these days.

And there was a time recently, when we had some visitors, and Glen went to work while the visitors were still here; the visitors could not get it through their thick skulls that they had to close the lid on the toilet, so I discovered that Brodeur apparently went for a swim in the toilet, and I found him standing in the sink doing the frantic, wacko, wiping/digging thing against the mirror in the bathroom. It is senseless and insane. I put the toilet lid down, and cleaned the mess in a few minutes, and Glen was none the wiser.

Brodeur is kind of frustrating, but I am a live-and-let live sort of gal, and so, am ultimately amused with Brodeur's antics, particularly when I find him in the window doing the wacko digging/wiping thing, along the street side of the house, where there's a lot of foot traffic. It gives me a perverse thrill to think about what some of our passersby might think when they see Brodeur do his weird wipey/diggy thing in their general direction. We've found there are a lot of people superstitious about black cats, so a black cat doing a weird wipey/diggy thing against the window is great for home security. I wish I could get the other cats to do it, too!

Back to the Wikipedia entry on Ligers. I was fascinated to read that a lionness has something in her DNA that inhibits the growth of her young. The lion does not have the same inhibitor, but it doesn't really matter, because his mate does. The cubs are born at a relatively accommodating size for their mother's birth canal, and I suppose there are other beneficial environmental reasons to keeping the lion species at that particular size for its place in the world.

However, when humans meddle, and a male lion — with no growth inhibitor — mates with a tigress — also with no growth inhibitor — the result is one freakin' — and I do mean FREAKIN' — huge member of the big cat world. Ligers are BIG.

I kept reading, and found that some meddling dumb-ass in South Africa mated a domestic cat with a small(ish) native wild cat, the Serval. The Serval is an attractive, friendly-looking cat with longer-than-normal cat ears, and markings similar to that of a cheetah's, and generally doesn't grow more than 40 pounds at the most: about the size of a medium-sized dog.

The domestic cat/Serval hybrid is called a Savannah cat, and early generations of this hybrid offspring are usually marked similarly to the Serval — that is black spots against tawny. They usually don't weigh as much as one would think: they are tall and long, and give off the impression of being heavier than they actually are. They are fascinated with water, strangers, other animals; they're good at opening doors, have the occasional dog-like trait, are very affectionate and loyal, and have a much wider vocal range than an average domestic cat. Sometimes, depending on the domestic cat parent's looks, the Savannah can be black, though it usually happens in later generations.

"Huh," I said. "Hey Glen, read this. I think Brodeur might be some wacky domestic-wild cat hybrid."

Glen read the Wikipedia entry and then found a page for Savannah breeders and came to the same conclusion: Brodeur might be a Savannah, at least in part.

We went to bed, and Brodeur, as he is inclined to do, jumped up, and plopped down between us, stretching his long body from our heads to about our knees. He rested his little head on Glen's pillow — which is rare — and looked lovingly into Glen's eyes. What a perfect moment in the universe, because Glen had just read the business about the Serval/Savannah cats, and was impressed by Brodeur's potential special background. Glen scratched Brodeur's head tenderly, perhaps for the first time in nearly a year, and then said to me: "You think we could get some money for this fucker? I read that Savannah breeders charge a fortune. He's not that old. You think your sister would mind?"

I ignored him, and we all went to sleep.

The next morning, around 8 a.m. (a bit later than usual) Brodeur appeared at our feet, with a rubber band in his mouth. I shot it into the hallway for him, and he brought it back. I shot it into the hallway, and he brought it back. I shot it into the hallway, and Glen said, "Why does that fucker play fetch? Fuck!" Brodeur brought it back. I shot it into the hallway, and Angus pounced on Brodeur and we had a little bit of peace while they ran around downstairs.

I reminded Glen that Brodeur was a special Savannah cat, and Glen said, "Oh yeah. That's kind cool. It explains everything." Glen likes having a one-of-a-kind item, even when it's a huge, mentally deranged black cat who likes to wipe/dig with his wet paws against our cool vertical surfaces.

Brodeur came back a short time later with some other piece of stringy something he dug out of somewhere, and deposited it near Glen. Glen reached for it, and then went to pet Brodeur and said, "THE ASSHOLE IS ALL WET. GET THE FUCK OF THE BED, ASSHOLE!!" And then: thud.

Glen was wide awake at this point, and said, "I'll go put the coffee on," and I stayed under the covers, wondering why Brodeur was wet, and what Glen would discover downstairs. I hoped it would be minor. As I was thinking of all of the probable scenarios, my pondering was interrupted by the very angry, booming voice of Glen:


It's wrong to find your spouse's anger amusing, but sometimes, there's no other choice. It's just water, for crying out loud, and the cat is "special," and I see it several times a week, anyway, after Glen leaves for work. But the "WORSE THAN EVER" caught my ears, so I got right up. Glen was right, it was really bad. Maybe not quite as bad as the crime scene mess I found earlier in the week, which Glen didn't know about, but Saturday's mess was certainly a different kind of bad. The water bowl was in its usual spot, only mostly empty. A good part of the floor was dry, perfectly dry, in fact, but about 3 feet away from the bowl, was a massive puddle of water. I thought at first maybe it was a bodily fluid, but that wasn't the case. It was water from the water bowl. Glen raged against Brodeur, while we both wondered how on earth he did it. We still don't know.

I went to clean it up, but Glen stopped me: "NO, NO, NO!! I'LL CLEAN IT UP. BUT IF I FIND THAT FUCKNUT, I'M GONNA KILL HIM."

"But he's a special Savannah cat, remember?" I said.


We ate breakfast and then retired to the living room to finish our coffee. And while we were in there, Brodeur went to work on the water bowl again, and other than the location and shape of the puddle, the rest of the events were an exact repeat of the expletive-ridden freak-out that had taken place not an hour earlier.

After that, Glen went to the basement, to inspect his new, giant funnel, and after awhile, he came back up, and found the water all over the floor again. Glen lost his mind like never before, but there is no way to properly convey that level of anger, except to say, just reread the stuff in ALL CAPS above, but imagine it louder, Glen's face more red, a man closer to the edge of insanity. He decided, hastily (and temporarily) that we would no longer provide water for the cats, ever, and how wrong it was to punish the others for the actions of one, but it had to be done, and now was the time. To make matters worse after the third water bowl freak-fest, Brodeur tracked wet little cat prints ALL over the floor in the kitchen, dining room, hallway, living room, and even on the bathroom door, while he (obviously) played with the door handle a bit. I even saw paw prints over by the fishtank, and on the wall facing the street, but I just stopped tracking him at that point, because as much as he can be a pain in the ass, I don't want him dead at Glen's hands. All of the Glen's Savannah cat love is gone, to say the least. He's not interested in selling Brodeur for quick cash anymore, or, god forbid, even holding him in that special place because of his unique breeding. He wants Brodeur dead.

If stupid Brodeur would just learn to wait until Glen isn't around, I won't snitch on him, but he doesn't get it. Oi.

Brodeur is a fine example of why we humans should leave well enough alone. And as much as I do love him, I have no idea why anyone would deliberately buy and/or breed a cat like this on purpose. I mean, duh.
* That damn fishtank. Glen and I bought most of the fish on Glen's birthday in 2002. Since then, I have struggled somewhat with the ethics involved with fish hobby, but since we had the tank, with a thriving pack of fish, it was an ethical dilemma for another time, namely, after all of our fish found their ways to fish heaven. We bought this house in 2004, and in the summer before the move, we had a bit of natural attrition in the tank, and I found myself kinda-sorta hoping that we wouldn't have to move the tank. If you know what I mean. The passing of the couple of fish that summer was a fluke, and was the last die-off we've had in awhile; the fishtank, obviously, came with us. We had a problem with my very over-the-top, high-end filter, which I refused to replace, on principle, and so, we just went filterless for awhile. I struggled with that, because I knew that we were no longer providing an optimal environment for the fish. Fellow blogger, Miss Karen came by for dinner one night during this filterless spell last fall, and the fish were their usual, happy selves, and Miss Karen dubbed the fish the "Magical Fish" because they just don't die, even despite living in a house with cats, and people who would choose not to have a tank, if they could, and in fact, didn't do much to create a good happy home. I felt badly, and the next day, Glen fixed the filter. It still gets wonky sometimes, but it's chuggin' along, and the fish, now six damn years old, are doing better than ever.

1 comment:

Brendage said...

I'm wondering if the Savannah cat is related to the "shit leopard"? That would explain all the "tidal shitticanes" he produces in his water dish....I hope it's not "worse than ever" when brolley is around!World of Pain Brah!