Backyard Kitties

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: While the wonderful and somewhat strange symmetry of this photo was what appealed to me when I purchased it, there is a homeyness to it that scratches at my brain too. My grandmother was the last person I know who wore an apron like the one shown here so it makes me think of her. She wasn’t the person in the family to be feeding the cats however; she didn’t especially like cats – although she would occasionally allow if they were doing something cute. She was somewhat puzzled by our unlimited affection for them and generally took the German Shepard’s part in most pet disputes that erupted and would sneak her treats.

I am thinking of my mother’s mother and she was more of a dog and bird person. Growing up my mother had a small dog named Queenie, a dog which may doubled as a part-time hunting dog for my grandfather. This was her only childhood pet. Later when my mother was older, her mom adopted a parrot. Ironically my mother, who ultimately went onto become a champion of our feathered friends (mostly in the form of rescuing injured waterfowl) disliked the bird intensely. I believe his name was Mike. He was evidently allowed to fly free around the house and would attempt to take your breakfast from you. I had heard about Queenie over the years, but I think I was an adult before I even heard my mother speak about Mike. It gave me a very different perspective on my grandmother – who never struck me as the sort of person who would allow a beloved bird to fly around the house and try to drink your coffee.

Looking carefully at these two felines, while the one cat appears to be solidly black, there is a thin white line that makes me think he actually has a white tummy, escaping the bad luck label. The other is a friendly looking orange stripe – a favorite brand from my youth. I think we had four oranges over the course of time. Meanwhile, it is their precise positions and almost identical curling of the tails that make this photo a hoot. They are permitting petting, but were probably thinking more along the lines of food or treats of some kind appearing from this food-smelling cooking person.

These are backyard cats and remind me that the kitties of my youth were free range – in and out of the house, roaming the yard and neighborhood. It wasn’t unusual to see your cat in someone else’s yard as you drove by, although I believe it did make mom raise an eyebrow. To my memory they were generally collected in the house for the evening after they had their dinner inside. In the same suburban neighborhood, pet cats are now indoor only for the most part. Transgressors risk being impounded. While I understand the multiple motivations behind this, a longing for that bit of feline freedom tugs at me and perhaps it is still different in other communities. For us it is a time now gone by way of large cotton aprons and cats being fed out back.


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