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Thursday, 5 March 2015


House sitting can be an interesting experience, especially when you have an animal friend to care for as well. Such is the case for my mother-in-law, Sylvia, as she spends a few weeks in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Her animal companion is a cat called Oreo.

As you can see, Oreo is a beautiful creature, who rules her domain with the certainty ensured by her feline genetics. She knows that Sylvia is her minion and gives a haughty look down her nose when she wants to go out. Oreo has the run of the neighbourhood as well and comes and goes to suit herself, assisted by her door person. Oreo rules her kingdom with the sometimes benevolent though often indifferent demeanor of her imperial cat self.

Recently, on a storm day in Corner Brook, Oreo was galing. She ran around the house like a wild cat, speeding through the premises, jumping on furniture and counters, only to take off again. She created a gale inside to match the one outside.

When Sylvia described Oreo's behaviour, it reminded me of the animals on my grandparents' farm years ago. Like other Newfoundlanders, Granda knew from the animals that a storm was approaching long before he heard the weather forecast. The horses were often galing prior to a bad storm. But the best harbingers of bad weather were their Manx cats.

Nan and Granda always had Manx cats, and when they were galing, in the barn, stable or in the yard, you knew to prepare for a storm. These cats were not house cats but mousers who lived in the barn and were great weather prognosticators. The cats were always named Puss and each one ruled the barn with feline authority. They were working cats, friendly to the people who fed them but not otherwise. They did great work on the rodent population, working for their keep.

Meanwhile, Oreo, a cat of different lineage, gales during the storm. She does not have her forecasting skills refined yet. However, like all cats, she does her thing in her own good time.

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