Oct 20, 2007

Entertainment value

The magpies were scolding incessantly for several minutes. It finally got my attention, so I got up and looked out my living room window. I saw the problem almost immediately: Settled in the crook of the tree, looking rather comfy, was a white cat I've seen around the neighborhood before, and I'm sure, the same cat that once made its way into the unfinished magpie nest now above it.

The magpies who built the nest still see this birch tree as theirs. They scolded and chattered at the cat, and, amusingly, attracted a number of other birds, like a couple of great tits and blackbirds. It took a while but the birds finally got the cat's attention; this blackbird (thrush) came very close. (I apologize for the blurriness.)

It occurred to me that my first assumption about the birds being attracted to the cat in the birch tree was for the entertainment value, was wrong. I now concluded that the birds were gathering across species to rid the tree of a common enemy. The magpies absolutely did not want the cat in their tree, and other birds were helping in pestering the cat to leave (though I still suspect entertainment mattered, too). They managed, instead, at one point to arouse the cat's hunting instinct (see magpie out on a limb to the left of the cat), but still the cat, although it could no longer stay in peace in the tree, was very reluctant to leave it. Behind on the right, next to a boulder, I spotted the reason why: Another cat.

It finally became obvious to me why the white cat went up the tree in the first place: To avoid the tuxedo cat. I have seen this white cat intimidate other cats, actually behaving either brashly or retardedly in that it more or less ignored the other cat's body language, which was screaming "Stay the f**k away from me!!!", and would try to approach the other cat, anyway. Now here was a cat that the white one wanted to avoid.

Whitey ultimately had no choice and reluctantly got down from the tree, attracting the other cat's attention. Of course, they denied me an end to this story by disappearing behind a building.

High entertainment value!


Miz UV said...

Poor kitty -- he doesn't look very comfy wedged in there. I don't get cats. The neighborhood cats seem afraid of Tiki and run away when she chases them, even though she's the smallest. Looking forward to more White Cat installments!

Keera Ann Fox said...

With cats, it's a matter of attitude. Always the attitude.

As for comfy, cats curl up in the darnedest places, so I've given up determining what "fits" a cat or not.

alice said...

With critters like those in the neighborhood, who needs TV? ;-D

Keera Ann Fox said...

Or the internet? ;-)

M said...

Heh. I have the same white cat who crosses my backyard. He feuds with a gray cat who also crosses the backyard. They're both after the squirrels at the squirrel feeder and the bird feeder. Of course, the birds hate the squirrels and vice versa.

The dog, of course, hates them all.

['Daddy! There's a squirrel in this tree! KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!']

Keera Ann Fox said...

I've always wondered what it is about squirrels that gets dogs so bent out of shape. It's not like they are natural enemies, AFAIK.

PJ said...

What a fun story and great photos! Even though I'm not very knowledgeable about cats, I know you're right about the attitude thing. I almost bought a cat a few years ago, a beautiful angora I decided to name Angelica. She was in a cage at Pet Smart, in their "rescued pets" section. I walked over to her and put my finger in the cage. At first she turned her head away as if to say, "Not so fast, lady." Then she crept toward me and just stared for a moment, sizing me up. I knew what she was thinking: "If I play hard to get, she'll want me more and will have to take me home." When she started licking my finger, I was in love. I decided to buy her, but to first go home and give it some serious though, as my last experience owning a cat was not good.

In the meantime, I changed my mind. I hope someone wonderful adopted her. :-)

Keera Ann Fox said...

Awwww... :-) I hope someone wonderful adopted her, too.

Jefe said...

Great story! I'm with UV -- that cat didn't look comfortable at all up there.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Cats will meatloaf even on narrow tree limbs. Relatively speaking, Whitey's sitting pretty.