We have two cats. One is Katie, a gray-striped, furry ball of affection. Nothing bothers hers. She rolls with schedule changes, house repairs, and guests with equal aplomb. She spends her days sleeping beneath our writing desk or lounging on top of the sofa in the sun.
The other cat is Zoe.
There is only one way to describe Zoe. She’s a maniac. Amazingly, she and Katie are sisters, found by construction workers in an abandoned restaurant four and a half years ago. As you can see, they look nothing alike, and, you can take it from us, their personalities are completely different. Zoe is the yin to Katie’s yang, a cat seduced by the dark side of the Force.
Zoe is the cat who leaps six feet in the air and turns somersaults trying to catch bugs. She climbs drapes, fights with her sister, and zooms around the house at something close to light speed. She is a member of the Society for Knocking Things Off Tables and The Cats Who Hide in Impossible Places Association. Trying to find Zoe in our basement is a true adventure. When she was still a kitten, we began referring to her as our wild and elusive Zoe. (See our posts about the time Zoe dislocated her jaw: When Greed Overshadows Compassion and The Kindness of Cats.)
This is a cat with an inquiring mind. She tests gravity everyday (a requirement, it seems, of the Society for Knocking Things Off Tables). She is trying to learn to fly. She has a fascination with electric light bulbs, dripping faucets, and anything that resembles string. This includes electrical cords, long hair, and the sashes of expensive dresses.
And what a talker! Every evening after supper, she gives a discourse. Sometimes she is explaining the scientific experiments she performed that day. Other times she is merely demanding playtime. She treats her leisure activities as seriously as her work.
There is no stopping her. When she has pulled off a particularly naughty caper (like the time she pulled the lace curtains down, rod and all, and then made a nest for herself and took a nap), we imagine how much worse it would be if she were a human child instead of a cat. And then we sigh and ask what has become a common question in our home.
Why, Zoe, why?
We’re not sure how many cats we have.
We thought we only rescued two kittens from the animal shelter. Two sisters, Katie, the gray tiger, and Zoe, the black and white. They were only a few weeks old when they came to live with us, too small to move beyond the bedroom door. But once they were older and did venture into that big world known as the rest of the house, a very strange thing happened.
The number of cats in our house multiplied.
The chaos and mayhem that has ensued over the last year has convinced us that we have more than two cats. It would defy all the laws of physics for two small cats to cause such commotion. Our evidence for this belief? The shredded curtains, the damaged blinds, the smashed glassware. The disconnected, well-chewed phone cord. The removal and shredding of all pieces of paper in our waste baskets. The sight of cats racing at a speed so fast they are just a blur, making it impossible to determine how many of them have just flown by.
We speculate that these cats come up through the drains. They creep in the open windows. They slither under the doors. The cat food bowls are always empty, the litter boxes always full. We are paying for far more cat food than two cats could ever eat. And as for litter box duties… Talk about job security!
Katie and Zoe deny any knowledge of the other cats. They stare at us with wide, innocent eyes when we make inquiries, as if they do not know what we are talking about. Sometimes they yawn, clearly indicating the questions are not important. And sometimes they casually saunter away, intending, we are sure, to warn the other cats to lie low because the food providers/box cleaners are getting suspicious. Then we laugh at ourselves. There cannot possibly be more than two cats in our house. Right?
We carry this false security to bed with us. We lie still in the night, listening to the sounds of thundering paws racing around the house, sounding like a herd of stampeding buffalo. To get up and investigate is dangerous. In the dark, a little, furry assassin will crack-block your ankles and then disappear, leaving you bruised and swearing on the floor. So we merely listen to the galloping, mentally calculating how many cats it would take to make that thundering noise. Calculating how much cat food we will have to buy. Calculating how many times we will have to scoop the litter boxes. We eventually fall into an uneasy sleep, each hoping that the rampaging hordes will not trample us in the night.