One of my favourite children’s books is Erik the Viking Sheep, written by Elizabeth Creith and illustrated by Linda Hendry.
If you had little ones in the 1990s, and they brought home from school the Scholastic book flyer, you can’t have missed it.
Erik is an Icelandic sheep who imagines himself dressed in a cloak and helmet and carrying a sword and a shield, leading a shipload of Viking sheep on raids, terrorizing the inhabitants of coastal villages.
If you know anything about sheep – and you don’t need to know a lot – you’ll get what a hilarious image this is. Sheep aren’t particularly brave, and don’t like change much.
Well, I have a subject for the second book in this series, Kaiba the Arctic Adventurer. Except it will be a very short book.
Our fattest, oldest, scarediest cat got into the garage the other day – he’s strictly an indoor cat. I’d accidentally left the kitchen door open. And he wandered out. He was quickly rescued by my husband – Kaiba isn’t smart, brave or energetic enough to make the return trip back into the house.
So he just sat there, bewildered. Now, every day, he sits at the kitchen-garage door and scrapes with his paw – waiting for the magical opportunity to return. But is easily distracted and wanders off. The end.
My cats are strictly indoor cats. Or rather, our surviving cats – and we have a clutter of them – are indoor cats. Any cats that have ever made it a regular habit to escape to the great outdoors, have eventually not come back.
We live on a busy street (that took two), and foxes have to eat too (that accounts for a few more.) A couple of my dedicated outdoorists have been taken to hobby farms where they are free to pick off the mice well away from the road and in the safety of a large barn protected by working dogs and the occasional guard donkey.
Did I say “strictly indoor?" I’m exaggerating a little here. We have a large carpeted balcony that is roofed over – it’s half the house in length, about eight feet wide, and the one-third walls have a six inch ledge on them. It’s purrfect.
The old cats like to bask out there in the spring and summer sun; the young cats like to chase each other around the ledge. And we’ve never had a fatality. We’ve had some near misses – or rather, close catches.
At least one cat needed a major rescue operation after missing the corner and landing in a tree that leans toward our balcony (and that provides a peanut gallery jeering section of chipmunks…) but these are stories I’ll save for another time.
We did have one near-death experience. And not of one of our cats. We were cat-sitting a very old, but regal feline, Leopold, the same summer I decided to grow catnip in our one of our balcony flower beds.
When our friends arrived to pick up their beloved family cat, we went out to meet them in the driveway – and assured them that Leo was having a wonderful time. It was at that point they looked up and saw “his majesty” rolling around on the six inch ledge, two stories up, directly above our unforgivingly hard lockstone driveway.
I directed Laur to stand there with his arms open ready to catch this little prince should he roll just another half inch to the dark side, while I charged up the stairs, playing the firewoman.
I snatched Leo up – just in time – and brought him to his owners. He was in a catnip haze and feeling no fear. The owners never asked us to catsit their little lion king again, which was just fine by me.
But I wonder…if Leopold’s story becomes book three in the ever-shorter-book series, do his owners get royalties?
Jan Carrie Steven is a volunteer with Cat Adoption Trust Sudbury (CATS) and the co-ordinator of Small Things: Kitty Boutique and Cat Adoptions. For more information, go to www.smallthings.ca.