The Secret Life of Jasper (Fat Albert) Kelley

Stephanie Kelley
Do you ever wish that you could read your pet’s mind? Or travel with them and share their adventures as they explore their worlds?

Researchers have attached cameras to cats as they’ve made their rounds, and pet psychics, animal whisperers and pet psychologists have all offered us humans insights on what our pets think and feel.
But most of us muddle through our relationships with our pets, just like we do with the humans in our lives. Our pets can be pretty clever at letting us know when they are hungry, or are happy, in fact, they can be a lot more forthright and obvious than some of the people I’ve known!

My dog Bozzy, for instance, squeals like a tipsy co-ed who’s been slamming down Jaeger Bombs when I break out his leash or pick up the car keys or even just kick off my slippers. (This means I might be putting on outdoor shoes next!)

By way of comparison, have you ever had the experience of asking someone what they want to do, or where they might like to go or even just a simple inquiry as to what they want for supper and have them waffle, stonewall, sigh or simply ignore the question?

You generally don’t get this kind of response from your animal pals, you know, ask your dog if it wants to go for a walk and you’ll get a pretty unequivocal “hell yes!” but I digress….

So what goes on in their minds? You know they think and plan. Just like humans, some pets are geniuses and others are, not to put too fine a point on it, dumb as a doorknob.

My cats are allowed outdoors because, in spite of the potential dangers, they just obviously enjoy it so much. But this also means that I don’t have a clue what they are up to out there, what secret life are they living?

A few weeks back my new neighbour Clarence asked me if I had a big grey striped cat, because he thought that this cat that had been visiting his house for over a year might be mine.

I was doubtful, because we only moved up here on the Terrace six months ago. I didn’t think my cat Jasper, the grey striped one, would have roamed this far from where we used to live. Shows how little I know about my cat!

Jasper came to live with me about 8 years ago. He was just about a year old when someone dumped him out up in Hillandale, and he tried to move in with my brother’s family. Their cat Star, however, took exception to this idea and so I brought him home with me, where he has been a splendid companion ever since. He does like to hunt, unfortunately, and is fond of presenting me with little gifts every now and then.

So last week I was perched on the couch early in the morning with my first cup of coffee when an utterly bizarre and loud wail came from the kitchen. I’d just let everybody outside just minutes before, and this sounded like a dying cat. As I leaped up, Jasper came proudly striding across the floor, yowling all the while, as he came to my feet with something clamped firmly in his mouth.

Jasper makes a really strange yodel when he’s had a successful hunt, but this was the loudest I’d ever heard him yell.

This was all pretty startling, and I felt sorry for the victim dangling out of Jasper’s mouth, so instead of thanking him and praising him for his generosity I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck so I could get whatever it was and give it a decent burial.

Jasper opened his mouth and dropped what turned out to be a little chipmunk that was not dead at all. In fact, after it shook its little head it dashed off across the floor with Jasper in hot pursuit!
I raced after them and got hold of the cat and locked him out, then turned to the problem of finding a missing chipmunk in my office.

I put on gloves, and started in the little closet alcove. I’d just moved a boot when I felt something brush past my knee…. The chipmunk had indeed been in the closet, and was now behind the file cabinet.
I had to leave to run some errands, so I decided to leave the chipmunk hunt until I got back. When I returned, as I opened the door Poquito, the big black and white tuxedo cat I also share digs with, raced past me and made a beeline for the big chair in the living room.

Either he is psychic or he heard or saw the chipmunk run across the floor as I was tossing keys and stuff on the counter. I ran after him, and pried him off the furniture as the chipmunk chattered in terror somewhere behind the chair.

I pulled the chair slowly away from the wall, and there was the little guy, hanging halfway out of the baseboard heater he was trying to crawl into. I promptly grabbed him and took him outside, away from the house where I released him.

He paused for one stunned moment on a log, then he dashed off into the brush.

This was great for the chipmunk, but I had really insulted Jasper, who would not look at me or come near for the rest of the day. And then, as I was leaving for a meeting later that evening Clarence called out to me.

He was walking across the road with a cat in his arms, saying that this was the cat that had been visiting him and his wife Nila since last year, and it was indeed Jasper. Who, because he was still miffed about the chipmunk incident from the morning, wouldn’t even look at me, which somewhat undermined my assertion that he was, in fact, my cat!

I walked over to Clarence’s house, where he and Nila told me that they called Jasper “Fat Albert.” They figured he had a home somewhere, he was obviously too well fed to be a stray, (I mean, look at him in that photo!) but still, he’d been making regular visits to their home where he hung out with their cat and feasted on kitty treats.

Jasper stayed out all night later, apparently still mad at me! But he came back the next morning all lovey-dovey, so I guess our relationship is OK again!

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