Friday, May 2, 2014

Cat vs. Tomato Plant

I have learned my  lesson.  Plants and pets obviously don't mix in my house.  Let's face it.  I do not possess the greenest of thumbs to begin with but the Cowboy and I had managed to grow a few things last summer and I decided to try again this year, if for no other reason then I absolutely adore fresh grown tomato soup.

This year I started my tomato plants early.  I also planted some oregano and I started some peas outside.  The peas, unlike the pets, are the least high maintenance.  A little water, a screen to keep the dog out, and they are good to go.  The oregano has found a happy spot on top of my dresser, the one piece of furniture the cats have not figured out how to jump onto yet.  The tomatoes started as tiny little seeds in a starter kit and I kept them on the refrigerator for the first two weeks, adequately watered and shrouded in a plastic bag.  The cats never went near them.

Of course it was too good to be true.  After all, Percy has been deemed the biggest feline jerk this side of the Rocky Mountains, and considering we live right at the foothills, that's a pretty big area for him to cover.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Percy, but one must face facts and that is that my dear sweet little black ball of lovable fur is actually a great big jackass.  He will poop right during my lunch and make sure it is as smelly as possible.  He chases and terrorizes Willow.  He knocks stuff off the bathroom counter.  He is constantly dancing around my night table, trying to get at my glasses (my glasses are the most interesting toy, I believe).  He waits until I am just about to drift off for a nap and then starts yowling at high pitch and streaking through the house, sounding like a herd of elephants.  It has always amazed me that a twelve-pound cat can make the sound of a stampeding buffalo herd.  He makes the whole house shake.  So adorable fluffball aside, he is actually quite facetious.

The other day I decided it was time to put the tomato plants in sunlight so they can grow.  They had just sprouted.  I had tiny little greenies and I was pretty excited.  So I set them up by my top level window, barricaded with catproof barriers.  I should have known better.  Where there is a will, Percy will find a way.  And he did.  I came home at lunch and he had managed to move the barriers aside and eaten half of the tiny green sprouts.  I'm sure Willow got up there and helped him, but the main culprit is Percy.  He is obsessed with green stuff and I have had to keep all houseplants as far away from him as possible.  Out of twenty plants I managed to salvage nine.  Nine isn't too bad, considering the Cowboy told me that four plants would be plenty to bear the fruit we'd need.  I had planned, however, on giving away the others.  I'm just lucky Percy hadn't been hungry enough to eat all of them and then walk through the dirt and track it around the house.  I am sure that would have come next had I not removed the plants.  I spent the afternoon transplanting each mangled little plant into its own container and then set the containers up in a radio flyer wagon the Cowboy brought over.  The plants are still too small to sit outside at night so I brought the wagon inside and draped it with towels.

Now most cats do not like surfaces that are not stable enough to stand on.  A radio flyer wagon with small pots inside draped with towels does not make a solid surface on which to stand.  This, however, did not deter my cats.  Even Puckett got in on the action and that is rare for her.  She was the first to stalk over, place her front paws on the edge of the wagon, sniff, and then jump up.  She looked genuinely surprised that the surface was not solid and even more surprised when I hollered at her to get down.  She spent the rest of the evening sulking on her box, face mashed in the wall.  Next came Percy.  He and Willow were content to sit underneath the wagon for awhile.  I was reading.  Just as I started to drift off for a short nap, sure enough, Percy jumped onto the towels himself, woke me up, and freaked out because the surface wasn't quite as sturdy as he thought it should be.  In Willow's defense, she only jumped into the wagon because she was too busy chasing a bug.  As usual my little airhead didn't seem to realize that the other two cats got reprimanded for jumping in, so she was going to get it too.

I gave up and took off the towels, replacing them with a big crinkly black garbage bag that I arranged so that it didn't even look remotely like a solid surface.  This didn't deter Percy who started poking around underneath the bag, trying to get in that way.  I am sure once he found his way inside the bag and the wagon he would have panicked and had a heck of a time getting himself back out.  Puckett, after she stopped sulking, came upstairs and poked around as well, even trying once again to jump onto the bag just to see if there was any way she could turn this addition to the household into her new throne.

And as for Tess, she came inside, sniffed the wagon once, wagged her tail against the bag, causing it to rustle (and further exciting the cats) and proceeded to trot to the food bowl to see if anything new had materialized.

I have to say, I love that dog.  Sometimes I swear she reads minds.

This morning, it was already sixty degrees.  Dog, radio flyer wagon complete with ailing tomato plants, and the pot of sprouting oregano went outside to bask in the sunshine.  I left the backdoor open for the cats to enjoy the spring air as well.  With any luck the weather will hold now so that I can leave those plants outside and not have to bring them in anymore.  I honestly don't think I can handle another night of cats vs. tomato plant drama.  The last thing Percy had to say about the whole thing was the huge pile of nasty he left me in the litter box.  Worse than usual, I might add.  It turns out tomato plants are actually toxic to cats.  Considering these were seedlings and barely sprouted and he hadn't really gotten to too many of them, I didn't anticipate him getting too seriously sick.  But he did let me know what his final thoughts were.

When it comes to plants I suppose Tess is my "good child."  I may be eating my words this afternoon when I go home and find my porch strewn with tiny greenies and doggie tracks of dirt.

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