Flying cats

In July 2020, soon after Potter joined our family, I got a urgent call from the Maine Coon breeder, my friend Ale’s cousin. With a very somber, almost trembling voice, she exclaimed, “Margaret, I have something to tell you. Something terrible has happened, but I don’t want you to be alarmed” Dramatic pause. Well, duh!, I was alarmed, very much so. Before she went on, I had time to think, “Oh no! One of Potter’s parents has been found positive to some terrible, deadly, HEREDITARY disease…!!!”

She continued, “This morning, Potter’s brother fell out of a third-story window and is at the vet’s right now.”

Okay, I admit, I was relieved. I mean, it didn’t concern Potter directly…I asked her what had happened.

Apparently, the brother’s new owner had opened a top floor window and then had left it unattended. The kitten had gotten up on the ledge and had spotted someone or something in the garden. So he went for it. He jumped. Luckily, his fall was broken by a small covering over the garden door. But it was still quite a fall. Right under the owners’ eyes.

Luckily, the vet found that he didn’t have any injuries. Phew.

Ale’s cousin told me to make sure that Potter wouldn’t be allowed near any open windows or terraces located on a top floor. I reassured her that that would never happen. All of our windows have screens. Besides, I’m always in attendance whenever there is an open window, after what Pavarotta did…and also…

This incident reminded me of something that happened many many years ago, when I was in my early 20s. It was summer, a very hot summer at that, and I had gone to an outdoor evening concert on the outskirts of Florence with a couple of friends. As we were making our way across the field to find a good place to sit down, I noticed a German shepherd running around and barking loudly at a bush. A group of children began screaming that he was going after a kitten. A KITTEN??? I jumped to my feet and ran over to the bush. I eventually managed to grab the terrified, tiny black kitten hidden inside, and then I held her high above my head so the dog couldn’t reach her. The dog gave up, and I walked away, tucking the tiny furball safely under my sweater, where she meowed desperately for a while, then fell asleep, exhausted. (For the record–see my post on outside or inside cats–I didn’t see a mama cat in the area.)

My friends and I obviously didn’t stay for the concert. They dropped me off at home, and I remember sneaking into the apartment, trying to be really quiet so as not to wake my parents who didn’t want any more cats, but Mom heard the kitten meowing (from hunger, poor dear) and came into my bedroom. I told her what had happened at the concert and reassured her that within 24 hours I’d find the kitten a family. Well, I did find her a family: our family!!! From the very start, in fact, it was clear that she was going to be our forever cat. Micia, an affectionate Italian word for “female cat,” remained with us, much beloved by all, until her death at age 16.

But now let’s get to the pertinent part of the story. At the time that I rescued Micia, we were living in a top floor apartment near the center of Florence. And remember, it was summer, beastly hot during the day, so we used to open the windows in the evening, and keep them open until morning, to try to get some relief from the heat.

We were careful, though, to keep the windows shut whenever Micia was around. We’d noticed, in fact, that Micia loved climbing up on windowsills and watching pigeons fly by, or insects, or whatever. We knew that an open window would be too dangerous for her. So we made sure to close the windows if we weren’t going to be in the room. Well, one day that little kitten made a beeline for one of the open windows, right in front of me. She almost managed to fly right out of it, too…I caught her just in time, just as she was spreading her “wings” (paws). Almost gave me a heart attack.

Needless to say, we spent the rest of that summer with the windows shut tight. I don’t know how we survived the heat, but survive we did. And so did Micia.

Cats are not acrobats. Yes, they are athletic, and they have a great sense of balance, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t fall off a terrace. They can. All it takes for a cat to lose its balance is a moment of distraction–a sudden gust of wind, a bird flying by the window, an insect…It doesn’t take much.

It’s fine, of course, to let your cat out on a terrace, but the terrace needs to be surrounded by some sort of protective covering.

Just in case…!!!

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