I will be the first to admit that we have a set of three goofy and fairly neurotic cats. We have a brother and sister duo – Hermes and Phoenix, and then a “brother from another mother,” Thor, who is our Siamese. We have been owned by them for 14 ½ years, and they still continue to make us laugh, and exasperate us at the same time.
We have always been very careful to make sure they had fresh water, and enough water to keep them nice and hydrated. In their early years, we bought one of those “cat fountains,” a little plastic item that would pump water through it constantly. It worked, but after a while, it seemed nothing we did could stem the growth of mold or mildew, so we “exited” it, and just used bowls, like normal cats drink out of. However, we made the mistake of leaving a mostly full glass of water on a stand one day, and Thor decided he would like to have that as his drinking vessel. Now we had a bowl and a glass, and it was fun to watch him drink so we kept filling it up. It didn’t take long before it was water purveyor of choice, and so we moved it down to their food, and for years have used it for them. There was a time when we decided to buy yet another water fountain – this one, stainless steel, so it wouldn’t mildew up, but somehow, after we filled it, Thor came over to test it out, and he caught a slight static charge and a spark on his nose. That was the first time we ever heard him hiss – but he was furious. The fountain went away, and back to the glass.
On of the troubles of the glass, and I guess of any kind of water dish, is that Hermes, our tawny colored cat, will often want to play in the water, or he will stick his paw in, and then suck the water off his paw. This creates an enormous amount of splashing, coupled with his action to shake his paw drive after he’s done drinking, which throws more water everywhere. It’s a mess.
For some reason, then, Cheri came up with the idea that we should get another fountain – non-stainless steel – that would keep more water available (presumably for more splashing?), and all would be well. Off to the pet store, where we found a beautiful porcelain water fountain, with an upper bowl, and two small waterfalls into the lower bowl – perfect for cats of culture and class. We set it up, and Hermes was the first to it. We almost needed a mop. Phoenix tried it out, and sat there drinking for a good five minutes. I don’t think she was thirsty – she just is a strange big cat.
Next, we watched as Thor came around the corner to check out the fountain. He stopped about three feet away from the thing, and then he started hissing at it. I’ll bet he hissed a dozen times, backing away, and full of fury (as much as an 8 pound Siamese can muster). He must have had a flashback to the steel fountain, or something, because I’m sure if he could have handled as stick of dynamite, that fountain would have been only shards.
So, we unplugged the fountain, moved it onto the counter, and replaced it with his favorite glass of water. All seemed to be fine, except that now we had a brand new unusable pet fountain, and 2/3s of the cat contingency actually enjoyed the fountain. There is enough middle child in both of us that we take the “fairness in all things” approach. So, we cleared out enough space in the breakfast noon to we could re-place the fountain, plug it in, put on bowl of food by it, and then across the room, we employed social distancing, and moved the water glass, and another bowl of food in its place, all secured with waterproof mats and everything fresh. A certain level of peace has prevailed, but frankly, it’s a bit silly to have to provide it for three babies in the family.
But we do. They are part of our family, and bring us joy and lots a laughing – even to watch a cat hiss at a fountain, or another splash his paws in the water. It is amazing how standards and practices change when love is part of the relationship. We have had cats in our home for over 27 years, and they have changed how we have lived, and what we have done. We have traveled with them across the country and back – but that’s another story! They are more than an add-on – they are woven into who we really are as a Cross family. It’s certainly been an intentional choice, and lots of work and adapting, and the cats are pretty pushy when it comes to getting what they want, either a lap when they are cold, or the hope of a treat when someone is in the kitchen, but I’m happy to say that lots of the accidental things that occur also have brought a great, wonderful feeling to our life together.
The only thing now is hoping that Thor actually gets used to the fountain, although I would call it a low-percentage shot. We might as well have water everywhere…
Word for the day: panpygoptosis. It has a Greek root, and is really a severe medical condition, although around our house, we could use it to mercilessly tease Cheri. Pronounced pan-pig-op-TOE-sis, it literally means “having short legs.” Medically speaking, it’s also called “Duck disease,” since it is when one’s thighs are collapsed, and one’s rear end is about at one’s knees – like a duck.
In our home, three of us are 5’10” or taller, and one of us is barely 5’. Cheri is constantly climbing on the counter, or tossing plastic bowls out of the dishwasher to an upper shelf. Her only medical condition is that she is short – I call her “fun-size,” and she is just right, physically – just a little bit panpygoptic is all…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.