Lost in the Land of Oz, Part 2

Well, it’s Friday and that’s Ark Day and as promised, I have BIG CATS for you. Here is our big cat, adjusting to his seriously restricted territory. In the first picture Cloudy is minding his own bottom business out in the courtyard. In the second, he is watching the helicopter come in for a landing at Children’s Memorial Hospital. We live so close that I did truly think the helicopter was going to land on our rooftop that first night. Surprisingly, it’s a noise that is now just part of our day. (click all pictures to enlarge)Cloudy1

McCloud was used to total indoor/outdoor freedom. We lived on a dirt road with a half acre yard. He never really wandered out of the yard; maybe once in a while he went over to sniff what was cooking on the neighbor’s grill. Mostly, he napped on top of the hot tub cover. But he really enjoyed his freedom, especially at night when he would just perch out there and watch the lightening bugs flicker. Here, Sophie and McCloud are confined to daytime in the court yard, under supervision. I am very fearful that, should they get loose, they could be in trouble with traffic. Also, we’re so new in the game that they might wander off. McCloud could be seduced by food (it’s self-evident, yes?) and hopefully someone would read his new tag and call us. Sophie, on the other hand, is fine during the day but at night I see the wheels turning: "If I could just get up the tree and over that wall, I could be in Gary, Indiana in 10 days…" And she’s so aloof and cautious that she would not easily seek shelter with strangers.

I’ve always believed that’s it’s in a cat’s nature to go in and out, in and out. My grandmother said, "Cats are always on the wrong side of the door." I’ve kept them up to date on shots, healthy and well-loved and let them make up their own minds- and all of my cats have chosen to spend some time each day outside. But up until now I’ve never lived in such an urban environment. My brother keeps his cats in, except when he walks them in a cat stroller. What can I say? Everyone in the family has some quirk or other. Do you keep your cats in or let them roam?
This handsome big cat lives footsteps from my door, along with The Tin Man and The Scarecrow. He was sculpted by local artist, John Kearney and funded by the Friends of Oz Park. Kearney also did the Tin Man sculpture pictured here a couple days ago; that one is crafted entirely out of chrome car bumpers, he’s nine feet tall and weighs nearly a ton. Cowardly Lion is done in bronze. Dorothy and Toto aren’t here yet; the women I met last Saturday who work The Emerald City Garden told me that they will probably be in place by Spring. They are cast but not yet completed.Cowardly1

The best part of this sculpture is his expression; it conveys so well his ambivalence between fearlessness and timidity. Of the lot of them, I favor Cowardly because lately I feel a lot like he did. I always thought I was a brave and curious woman but this city life is daunting. It feels like a lot of commotion, loud noise, bright lights and intimidating traffic. I’m trying to push myself a little further each day and my explorations are beginning to be more adventure and less anxiety provoking. (That’s my bike parked there on the Yellow Brick Road.)
I don’t have to go too far to see this big cat. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a short five blocks away. He, too, looks like a fish out of water in this city. A Snow Leopard really doesn’t belong in a cage. I took this picture a short few days after arriving. I had started out in high spirits and soon found myself slumped and immobilized on the bench in front of his enclosure. I have to say that all the while I was chewing a zoo cheeseburger and considering his plight, he seemed pretty relaxed- most of the time he spent rolled over on his back napping. It reminded me of the time I was wondering about an aging pet’s diminished quality of life and my vet friend said, "Well, Velcro is not sitting around remembering when he used to race across the lawn after a chipmunk. He’s just settled into the here and now." Is that true?Snow

17 responses to “Lost in the Land of Oz, Part 2

  1. St. Petersburg wanna be

    Hi Vicki, I think you are very wise to supervise the cats while outside. I have a couple of cat stories I thought would be helpful to you, we traveled cross county from Calif. to Pennsylvania with 3 cats. They adjusted very well, but one was very adventurous and living on Main Street claimed his life eventually. Sigh…but the others stayed in the back yard or close by. My daughter has four cats and they stay totally indoors. They were afraid to go out-had no interest. But recently she lets them out into the screened room where they can view the world, come in and out at will, and torture the lizards that venture in under the screen door where there is a little gap. I would vote totally for you to keep up the vigilant watch.

  2. Marilyn- As if this move hasn’t been hard enough for the cats they will go to St. Petersburg with us from Jan- April this year (McCloud is over the carry on weight limit and will probably have to make a long road trip; Sophie can go under my seat and annoy other passengers). Because of the renovation project there they will also have a (new) screen porch- and we will have a guest bedroom! For wanna be guests. Meanwhile, Sophie is sitting here basking in the sun, happy as a clam at high tide, mumbling, “this is all projection on the woman’s part…”

  3. My cats go in and out, but we live on a dead-end cul-de-sac and they have few predators around. The only dogs are cowardly around cats. Mine hardly ever go beyond the end of the driveway, but once one of them did – and got caught on the top of our neighbor’s garage door and he closed the door on her – not knowing she was there. I don’t know how she survived it (at least without broken ribs) but survive and thrive she did.

    If you take it in small doses, surely you will come to love the city. It is profoundly different from your other place, but it has charms to discover, I know.

  4. All of our cats are strictly indoor cats. Most of the time an open door only gives them the opportunity to crowd together and gaze out. They have to be coaxed or coerced to wander. Well, except Willow. She has the greatest urge to explore outside. Clover just wants to eat grass when she is out. Chloe will check out the doghouse and back yard, but all keep an eye on the door and should it look like it is closing, they make a dash for it. Of course it is Max’s back yard so all of the wandering is done ONLY when he is at the vet for grooming.

    Once in Mississippi, Rhett slipped out unnoticed. In the middle of the night I heard this loud meowing and I looked all over the house in closets thinking someone had been shut in. Finally I figured out it was coming from the dining room. There was a shadow at the window… Rhett, sitting on the bench on the front porch, pawing at the window… talk about your cowardly lion… he shot back in so fast it made my head spin.

    Speaking of THE “Cowardly Lion”, my brother Stephen played that role one summer when he was in high school at a local playhouse here. He said the costume was so hot that mom had to clean it almost every day, apparently hanging it on the front porch to dry. I can imagine what motorists thought driving by.

    Seriously, go to the Russian Tea Time after a leisurely day at the Chicago Art Museum or a matinee at the Chicago Symphony. Try http://www.hopstop.com for directions by subway around Chicago. It worked wonders for us in New York.

    Note to Sophie from Rhett:
    My dearest, I long to see your lovely face. How I wish we could frolic and explore those boxes and run up and down those stairs in your new home. I miss stairs. I’ve missed you.

  5. We always kept our cat indoors. One Tuesday evening she got out, and we could not find her. On Friday morning when I came downstairs, I heard a cat meowing out by the pool cage. I called to my husband to tell him that the wanderer had come home. She was covered with pink paint (on her back anyway.) The kids were out of school that day so they watched her. At noon I called them to see how she was, and they told me that her fur was coming out where she was licking it.

    We took her to the vet that afternoon; he shaved off the affected fur and gave her a shot against infection. She got out a few times after that, but always came right back. As she got older, she never even went toward the door.

    Not too long ago, there was a cat who lived across the street who would come over to visit, but she always stayed close to her house. I feel sort of bad for cats whose paws never touch grass, but they do end up living longer.

  6. St. Petersburg-ite wanna be...

    Oh Vicki, you make me laugh. Cats under the seat etc…They will be world travelers before you are done with them. Cats are great at this though.
    Thinking about the Wizard of Oz, one year for Halloween our four kids were the group, son was Tin man and three daughters the others, I made all the costumes, cute, cute, cute. My son was about 5 or 6. When they went trick or treating my son stiff-legged walked up some stairs very slowly to the porch where a friend was waiting, and was squeaking out the words, oil can, oil can. What a riot.

  7. I have a back yard with a high fence, and since I’m not a jumping, climbing kind of cat, I stay inside–unless some careless human accidentally leaves the gate open. Then I usually just go over to the neighbor’s yard and sit in their bushes until someone comes to get me. But sometimes other cats do come into my yard; I wrote a story about one of them on my blog yesterday.

  8. I don’t have cats, but I love your grandmother’s quote. And that’s a great expression on his face as he’s watching the helicoptor!

  9. I definitely think it’s true that animals are better at living in the present than humans are. Proof of this is all around us – in the little dog with the wheely-cart instead of back legs, the torn up tom-cat who still holds his tail up proudly, and in the faces of our friends as they grow older… They accept the way things are much better than we do, they were designed to adapt… and maybe we were, too, but we’ve forgotten in all the hub-bub of life.

  10. You weren’t kidding about the big cats! We keep our cats in at night, but let them roam during the day. Madeleine continually frets about Silver and Boots becoming some cougar’s dinner.

    Emily used to live in Lincoln Park, in a white high-rise over Emilio’s Tapas, a lovely Spanish restaurant with great food.

    I’m just back from a few lovely cat stretches and many rejuvenating downward-facing dogs. We soon-to-be grandmothers need to stay healthy and happy! ;~)

  11. Gad Zooks! Munchkins among us! I have already been counting the weeks until Ms. Zoe arrives, but B! Oh, congrats and happy day! Oh my oh my oh my! I’m writing you an e-mail and going over to Miz S to see if she knows…this is news!

  12. Feeling sorry for your cats and for Velcro. You can take the cat out of the country, but you can’t take the squirrel out of the cat. (This may not be what my Dad told me, but it’s close.)

    Very good to see you b**gging again, Vicki. And cycling. What a babe!

  13. Those are big cats.

    Since we’ve lived here all our cats have been strays who showed up at the door and all are indoor/outdoor cats.

    In San Francisco, they never had their little paws on the floor.

  14. Our cats are mostly outdoor, but we live on a cul-de-sac with a fairly large back yard. I do worry about coyotes because there have been some around–but our main cat(the non-stray) has lived here for 10 years and appears to be holding her own. Are you going to be a grandma too? How did I miss that? Do tell.

  15. Not me, Margaret! No,no! Mrs. S. is expecting her Zoe in about 10 weeks and now I understand that B is also in an expectant state. Lucky duck! Being a grandma would be swell, but mine are still a few years away at the earliest.

  16. Vicki's sister, Betsy

    When I lived in Houghton in the Great White North, Hobbes and Fred loved to go out, although only when I was home during the day. Fred would come trotting comically back, meowing, every 10 minutes to check in, and Hobbes would hide in the woods across the alley and watch me wander around calling for him. Here in Kalamazoo, they stay in, although they occasionally try to make a break for it. But too close to traffic and a faster way of life. They do have four floors and many windows. The good news is that even after years of having outdoor freedoms, they will get used to the indoor life.

    I’m glad you’re keeping an eye on Sophie (not worried about McCloud getting over the wall!). Remember when both Thomas Gray and Teddy White walked “home” to houses we’d moved from in the 70’s? Teddy did it so many times we finally gave up going to fetch him back, fearing he’d eventually get squashed in one of his two-mile treks through the east side of Detroit, and he stayed on there with some nice old lady with apparently better grub. It was very sad, but he didn’t seem as though he was going to stop anytime soon.

    Hang in there, Vic, and get over the wall yourself on a regular basis, eh? Much love — Bets

  17. I was going to go all ASPCA on you and expound on the dangers that cats face when they are allowed to roam outside, BUT I am distracted by Bonnie’s little bombshell, dropped ever-so-casually in your comments section. WOW! That’s so exciting.

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