What do four domesticated cats do in a heat wave? Well, they hesitate to come into the large sun baked house, even in the cool of the evening! But they have an overwhelming yearning for the spring showers, which were so short lived this year. One in which, I was lucky enough to fill tall garbage cans with extra rain water to share with my flowers and simple backyard garden.
But these friendly felines do act like humans, changing places at our side yard lawn where we have three ventilated iron patio tables and chairs under which they can enjoy the shade of two gorgeous Douglas fir trees and two Linden trees. However, old “Jethroe,” our black house cat, wishes he could trade his ebony black shiny coat for the more heat resistant lighter colored stripped patterns of his alley cat comrades. But “Sister” my dear affectionate alley cat enjoys trying all the patio chairs to sprawl out and experience whatever breeze comes through our front side lawn, giving me a smile that tells me it is too hot to hug her.
Then loveable “Tigger,” who enjoys stretching on the table tops realizes that he is overweight and might sooner enjoy snuggling up on the cooler grass lawn near to the bushes. But the feline concensus is that we can do little better than to look for the next shade spot as the sun passes the lofty tree limbs shading our side lawn. Filling up various water dishes, so each cat is not at the mercy of the heat wave, I begin in the morning as they gather at the back door to check their dry cat food rations and a few cat food treats from cans of salmon. But “Twinny,” the last stowaway to live in our garage through a small cat door, always wants to have me check her rations separately, as we walk to the garage to make sure she always has water and cat rations, which are important for all them if we have an unexpected thunderstorm.
Gone were the cold winter nights in which Tigger and Sister would fight over who was going to sleep in my bedroom, which was now too warm for the house cat Jethroe, who now did not want his indoor job as head of the household. However, winter is not too long away, but perhaps not soon enough for these felines, but the terrible heat wave has even prompted me to put ice cubes in their water dishes when changing the water.
Following my daily house chores around the home, these felines accompany me to check if they had not missed anything, but for now, visitors to the Town Crier’s House are expected to share our feline hospitality with our four felines who will gladly sit with any mortals who also feel the heat by sharing their patio table in the historic shade of two majestic Douglas fir trees. But for now, man and beast share a human compassion, surviving the summer and it heat waves. Please check other household pets, which may not be that lucky and aware of the human kingdom during these harsh summer months. They are man’s best friends, who guard our home in all types of weather!
Richard H. Shaner is director of the American Folklife Institute in Kutztown.