A Cat Story
Squeaky And The House Wren
Like Wyle E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, my cat Squeaky, and a feisty house wren were embroiled in a battle a few years ago that not even Sylvester and Tweety could match. OK, maybe it’s wasn’t that bad.
Before my 2-year old male, orange tabby passed away, he and I were living in a rustic cabin in south central New Mexico. I named him Squeaky for the honest fact that when he purred, he made a very loud squeaking sound. It sounded much like he had swallowed a whistle. He breathed normally when not purring and it didn’t seem to affect his health. In fact, a veterinarian heard him squeak and never said anything about it. So, I didn’t worry about the squeaking and just found it cute.
In typical cat fashion, Squeaky had never been one to take flying pests lightly. He was always trying to catch flies with his mouth. Like a turtle, Squeaky would snap and chomp the air desperately trying to snatch the flies out of the air. Sometimes he caught one and of course ate the poor little bug. So, when a pesky little house wren decided the cabin was an interesting place to play, Squeaky had to join him.
There were a lot of openings and gaps to the outside in the unfinished part of my cabin where the wren could easily squeeze in and out. Any daring bird could easily venture inside. I tried to cover the openings when I found them but at the time I never found them all.
Opportunistic, this tiny wren usually picked the morning to find a port of entry. At around 7am, I would hear a single peep like an avian alarm clock. Then, the wren sounded a high shrill, "Tuwee, tuwee, tuwee," followed by a cackling laugh. I always knew it was that wren and he was in.
"How did he get in this time? " I wondered to myself in a groggy haze before I heard Squeaky scurrying rung by rung up the wooden ladder that goes to a loft. I knew Squeaky was on target and the subject was the house wren.
Before I could scramble out from under the bed sheets, I heard the light flutter of wings flying about the cabin as if it were a huge birdhouse. Unstressed, the wren tauntingly neared Squeaky who by that time would be perched patiently in the loft waiting for the right moment to strike. In an almost certain capture, the wren banked and turned toward the kitchen. This cocky wren landed on a beam of my timber frame cabin and bobbed and weaved like a prizefighter preparing for a fight. Squeaky began to scale the beam toward the mouth watering morsel. Of course, I stopped Squeaky before anyone was hurt. Then, the wren disappeared in to the next room and made his escape through a tiny crack between two sheets of plywood.
I couldn’t imagine what this wren was thinking but it seemed suicidal. Squeaky actually caught the wren one morning, but let him go in the usual game of cat and mouse. A few tail feathers lay on the floor as I managed to shoe the cheeky bird through the door. The wren seemed stunned but bravely returned the next morning.
Two mornings later, I lay in bed waiting to hear Squeaky climb the ladder for another go around. I was anxious and even a little irritated when the wren never came. "He’s gone, " I thought, "He finally learned his lesson."
On the contrary, the morning next, I heard that familiar sound, up I jumped, and out the wren went. "How am I supposed to deal with this?" I thought so I eagerly went about plugging every hole I could find in the cabin walls. The cabin was finally sealed and Squeaky’s game with the wren was finally over. At least, once again, that’s what I thought.
A few days later, I was chopping wood when from behind me I heard that familiar "Tuwee, tuwee, tuwee," sound. I turned to look up in to a tree behind me and there was that rascally wren sitting on a branch as if he owned it. I grinned in disbelief before turning back to my chopping when suddenly I heard the sound of little feet galloping across rocky ground. It was Squeaky back to the chase. Up the tree he scurried scattering bark along his climb. But he was too late. The wren made a bold leap and quickly flew away in to the forest without so much as a scratch.
Sadly, Squeaky passed away not long after these antics. As I was burying him under a juniper tree in my backyard, I suddenly felt as though I wasn’t alone. So, I stopped to look around and shake the feeling when something up in the tree caught my eye. Far above me, I saw a tiny feathered creature sitting high on a branch. "It can’t be," I whispered to myself. But, it was. It was a house wren. And as I placed the last shovel loads of dirt over my beloved Squeaky, I heard that familiar sound echo through the canyon below, "Tuwee, tuwee, tuwee." Then, the bird flew away and I never saw it again.