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Kool Porch Kitties

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Well, it had to happen. The porch kitties now have a fan base. Can a world tour be far behind?

As you may have noticed, it’s been pretty d—-d cold outside lately. And despite the heated, insulated luxury boxes on the front porch for the cats, there were some temperature-related issues confronting me and the denizens of the aforementioned boxes, namely, that everything out there was freezing about as fast as it left the front door. I am in the habit of treating the felines to something out-of-the-ordinary whenever there’s a special occasion, like Christmas or Easter or Fourth of July or my birthday (They did send cards.) or whatever. They’re usually appreciative…or as appreciative as cats ever get, but this has not exactly worked out as planned during this cold spell (Reminds me of an old joke : Kid gets asked during a science quiz to write on the board the word for current atmospheric conditions—rain, wind, sunshine, temperature, etc. Kid knows the answer and writes on the board, WHAETHRE. Teacher sighs and says, “That certainly is the worst spell of weather that we’ve had in some time.” I didn’t say it was a good joke, just an old one.). I put out some moist cat food, the canned stuff, in the front porch dishes, but, as luck would have it, the porch kitties were off somewhere at the time and by the time they got back to perform the usual inspection before scarfing it up, the stuff had turned into chickensicles or tunasicles, or whatever the flavor was. They’ve been sort of gnawing at the edges whenever it sits in the sun long enough to get a bit of a thaw—stuff could be there until Easter at the rate we’ve been going.

Besides the frozen food, there has been the water issue. Water freezes pretty solid in response to the temperatures we’ve been having—and quickly too. So I’m picking up the bowl, sometimes a solid block of ice, sometimes just a top crust with liquid slurping around underneath (In which case I sometimes just pound it with the umbrella on the porch to free the liquid below), and I take it in, turn it over and run water on it in the sink until the block of ice falls out. Then I refill it and take it back out to the porch, where the ice crystals begin to form even as I am setting it down. This is going on several times a day. Gets old. Cats have sort of figured out that they’d better get there ASAP if they want and actual drink and not a slushy. Getting the bowl of water from the kitchen sink to the front porch has been a bit fraught with peril, but I haven’t spilled much; my hands, however, do frequently get wet and stepping out into sub-freezing temps has probably ruined my career as a hand model in the National Geographic.

So I’d been thinking about inquiring around at the pet stores to see if there was such a thing as a heated water bowl available on their shelves. Not so much. This quest made me think of the solution that my dad came up with for the same sort of problem of keeping the cows’ water available in winter. The back of the barn was adorned with a claw-foot porcelain bathtub (We had finally gotten an indoor bathroom with all of the mod-cons, including hot water that didn’t have to be heated on the stove but went right to the tub!) which was outfitted with an immersion heater (like a giant-size one of those little cup heaters that some travelers carry for a quick cup of java in the morning). There might be ice around the edge but the cows could generally manage to get a drink even if they had snow on their backs while doing so. Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve seen one of those cup heaters in ages. Are they a fire hazard if not properly handled? Anyway, I was looking for the solution to the frozen water problem, when, all of a sudden, it popped up on my front porch.

After being “out and about”—to all of Garrettsville’s “hot spots”—such as they are—one afternoon between Christmas and New Years, I came home to spot a large-ish cardboard box with an envelope taped on the front sitting on the front porch. The card was addressed to “Iva Walker and the Porch Kitties”. The card had a cat sleeping in a Christmas hat of some sort on the front; inside were good wishes for the New Year from an anonymous cat lover.

When I took it in the house, it turned out to be NOT a delivery by the UPS man (We’re practically on a first name basis lately) but labeled “Foster & Smith”, a well-known veterinary supplies company. Lo, and behold! Inside was a good-sized metal (Aluminum or stainless? Who knows.) bowl, wired for heat, with a heavy-duty cord. Yahoo-hooey!
Didn’t take long to plug that in—sufficient outlets on the porch—and for the porch kitties to take advantage of their new luxe accommodations. They’ll probably be inviting the neighboring felines in for drinks and dinner as soon as the frozen cat food softens up. They can use the former water dish as a skating rink the way Snoopy and Woodstock do the birdbath in that cartoon series. Maybe it’ll become the neighborhood swimming hole or communal bathtub. I don’t care. I don’t even have to know who the cat lover is. It was such a nice thing to do and as long as I don’t know exactly WHO it was , I can attribute it to anybody…or everybody…that I wish.

So, thank you very much, Cat Lover. I thank you. The porch kitties thank you. The inside cats thank you for allowing me to pay them their proper amount of attention. They mean, who deserves it more? Do we hear slurping out there?

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