From the Mouths of Cats

This is Morgen.  Don’t let his innocuous kittenish looks fool you for a second, though.  He’s a piranha.  All teeth.  All the time.  And tonight those adorably sharp little pearly whites bit right smack through my electrical cord for my blood pressure monitor! 

Unlike Mac who has eaten everything except a book – wait, he did, take that back – only a couple of our cats have ever used their teeth to make us a bit crazy.

It seems to have started with Popcorn, a solid black medium haired cat who became ours when she reached her paws through the cage at the pet shop.  One Thanksgiving when I wasn’t feeling well I had brought home a sweet potato to eat later.  Being a Southern girl, a sweet potato on Thanksgiving is not just desired but required.  It was wrapped in foil and left on the stove so I could take a nap.   When I awoke feeling both better and hungry, I wanted that sweet potato more than anything and headed straight to the kitchen where I found an entirely empty piece of foil on the stove.  Hmm.  I looked on the counter, on the floor, in the stove, in the refrigerator, in the cabinets…moved to the living room and searched under the couch, behind the couch, under the tables, and just about anywhere I could think a sweet potato may have somehow gone if it rolled out of the foil and onto the floor.  Hmm.  Retracing the steps to the car, out the door, into the car, meticulously looking all through the car, back into the house.  Where on earth would a sweet potato have gone?  And then I saw her.  Popcorn had just a little bit of the red-maroon skin of the sweet potato stuck to the bottom of her chin.  I was equally incredulous and devastated and I wanted a sweet potato.  Back then the only thing open on Thanksgiving was Circle K or Seven-Eleven and neither carried sweet potatoes – my Southern pride was indeed wounded as I was not able to have a Thanksgiving sweet potato.   I still can’t figure out how she got it off the stove, ate the whole thing, and left the foil intact.  From that moment on, no sweet potato went unguarded in my house.

Tiger, a medium to long-haired tabby with a white chest and enough white splotches around his mouth to look like he’d had a drink of milk and it stuck, couldn’t resist sinking his teeth into a piece of paper.  It was the canines he  used and every paper in the house had Tiger’s seal of approval – two perfect holes in the corner of every page.  One bite and he moved on to the next one.  No need in our house for a paper punch.  Just wave the paper around and Tiger would get up from whatever he was doing, most likely napping, and eagerly put two cat tooth-sized punches into whatever you held out to him.  This was fine for most things but occasionally a word or number was right where he had bitten, a picture was the marked object, or it was something official that shouldn’t have cat bites on it.   When we open old boxes we occasionally find something with tell-tale marks and fondly remember Tiger’s seal of approval. 

Pumpkin was a homely, short-haired tabbyish calico with a cantaloupe fetish.  It didn’t matter where she was in the house, the moment we would cut into a cantaloupe she would appear and  launch herself onto the counter and begin the process of convincing us she wanted some.   If we took precut portions from the fridge, the moment we’d unseal the bowl she’d be there, pulling on our hands to direct the bite into her own mouth.   If she wasn’t quickly given a piece she would howl-meow insistently until we gave in, and we always gave in.  

Gizmo actually chewed, like a dog, the straps off my favorite pair of dress sandals.  I had no idea that a cat would chew on shoes until I went to put them on and the strap wasn’t attached but laying separately beside the shoe.  A closer look revealed the strap wasn’t broken but actually gnawed in several places until the strap has just fallen off.  I know it was Gizmo because a few weeks later when I kicked off another pair of strappy heels he dashed over and started working on the straps right in front of me!  I learned to quickly get my shoes in the closet and away from feline fangs.  Gizmo is also known for reducing straws still in the cups that you are using to useless sieves.

We’ve had cats steal and carry our things with their teeth such as hair bands and receipts and occasionally small clothing items.  Butter stole garments straight from the laundry basket and was particularly fond of anything with lace.   Pumpkin, the same one who loved cantaloupe, consistently stole baby caps and socks, making a “mrrrrm, mrrrrm” sound as she slunk away from us with her prize. 

Midnight’s fetish for roaches is covered in “Midnight” and Sassy’s mouse hunt is covered in “Pup’s Mouse Caper”. 

Morgen is another story.  From before he could balance well he opened his mouth to bite at whatever came at him.  We’d hold him up and he’d nip at our noses and because he was cute and cuddly and an itty-bitty kitty we oohed and aahed over his trick.  Not so cute as he got older, however, and those teeth got sharper so we had to stop it.  That’s how our comforter game was started so he would have something to chase and bite.  We’ve given him toys to pounce and bite but he still prefers whatever he bites into to be something that screeches and squeals, like his sister or one of the other cats, or human, like us.  He doesn’t bite hard but just enough for us to feel some teeth.     

I’ve never, ever had a cat chew through a cord before and I guess he’s pretty lucky the current was low and I guess I’m pretty lucky I’m not driving to the emergency animal clinic with a cat with the side of his face electrically burned because I know from past experience that a trip there is about the same as a mortgage payment. 

I think my favorite thing from a kitty’s mouth, however, is what we call a kitten kiss – an oh-so-gentle nip on the nose followed by a sandpapery lick and accompanied by much purring and eye contact with slow blinking.  Popcorn was the only cat who did that and when Blaise joined us, she started it also.  In fact, after Morgen and I have our chase the hand under the comforter game, Blaise pops into bed and gives me a goodnight kiss before settling in on my pillow.  And throughout the night if she thinks of it, she reminds me how grateful she is to have a home here and that she really, truly loves me.  And when she does that too much and awakens him, Morgen plants his teeth in her tail. 

Can’t imagine a world without kitties…especially mine.

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