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Life in a Cat house

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Stan Johnson - Life in a Cat House

A few days ago, our cat Ozrow headed to the door but when it was opened he moved in a slinky way that indicated he was very wary of what he would encounter outside. He wasn’t just using caution, he was acting downright fearful.
We’ve seen that look before and know what it means. There is a snake out there someplace and Ozrow knows it. We’re well into the season when snakes come out and begin to move around, so it is not a big surprise one is around. When you live in the country, as we do, there will be a snake now and then.
We have not actually seen one this year and it’s possible Ozrow hasn’t either. It may be that he just smells it, which is enough to send him into frightened kitty mode. Ozrow always struts around like he is the coolest cat in the universe (which he might well be), but the one thing that dethrones him is a snake.
There is no way to know why he is afraid of snakes. He doesn’t show much fear of anything else. At one time he was sort of leery around our dog, Homerbucky, but they settled their differences years ago and now they totally ignore each other. Ozrow won’t hesitate to walk right under Homerbucky’s nose.
He doesn’t much like it when strangers show up at hour house and he may go off to hide. Even strangers making loud noises while doing work on the house doesn’t give him a total meltdown the way snakes do.
For several years we had a huge blacksnake we named Edgar living under our porch. Edgar was by far the biggest blacksnake I’ve ever seen and we left him alone because he caught lots of mice. Ozrow was young when Edgar was out and about and he never took any special notice of the snake. It was something that happened later, after Edgar disappeared, that brought on Ozrow’s fear. We can’t imagine what it was but it made a negative impression on the cat.
In 35 years, we have only seen one poisonous snake anywhere close to our house. That was a copperhead way down under the hill and that was many years before Ozrow was born. It’s possible another copperhead or even a rare rattlesnake was out there someplace to put the fear into him. We never saw any signs he was bitten by one, though.
We went through the snake fear last year. That lasted for days and my wife, Vivian, actually saw the snake. A day or two later I also saw it. The crawling thing that was driving Ozrow into a frenzy of fear was a garden snake that would have had to stretch to make it to 18 inches long. To Ozrow, size doesn’t matter—as far as he is concerned, a snake is a snake.
We’ll keep a watch out for the offender, although I don’t know what we’ll do if we see it. Probably nothing. There is a good chance Homerbucky will chase it away, since he showed a dislike of Edgar and may have been the reason the blacksnake left us.
We’ll just hope the snake moves on and leaves our cat in peace. It’s not fun to see Ozrow full of fear.