Gardening with Cats

My back garden contains two small cat figurines from Smith & Hawken. One black cat sits upright and peeks through the geraniums, while another curls up in the lavender. I have an affinity for cats–their independence, grace, and general air of superiority, leavened by their occasional goofiness. While I do not qualify for crazy cat lady status–I do not nuture hordes of cats, wear appliqued sweatshirts with country kitties on them, or collect decorative kitten plates–there's no getting around the fact that cats are my favorite animal.

And I'm not the only gardener who loves them. Cats and gardens just seem to go together. In theory, a cat can cut down on the rodents decimating your vegetable garden while acting, as CAS says, as a mobile knick-knack. 

Here at the Fraudulent Farmstead, we sport two mobile knick-knacks. Miss Kitty, my Siberian, is an indoor cat. She sometimes accompanies me outside during gardening, or when we need to do a very thorough brushing. (The BF calls her "Spider Cat" for her ability to–he claims–shed very fine hair at will whenever he walks by her.) As you might surmise from the name "Siberian," she's got more hair than a yak, so she's not keen on hanging about outdoors when it's hot. On those occasions when she heads into the garden, she spends a great deal of time skulking under bushes, considering escape routes under fences, and draping herself suggestively over the back steps so that I'll allow her back inside, where she can resume her daily regime of soaking up the air conditioning and shedding all over the house. 
Big Lou, on the other hand, is a true garden cat. Regular readers may recall that Lou is a stray who has taken over my front porch, where he sits in the window and demands food in a strident tone as soon as he spots me in the morning. 
Lou is, not to put too fine a point on it, an attention whore. As I kneel to weed, he twines around my back and shoves his head under my arms to get a better look at what I'm doing. It's tough to get that clump of crabgrass that's just out of reach when Lou insists on eeling underneath my stomach. 

Should I be taking on a task he deems too energetic for close contact schmoozing, Lou will settle in a spot within comfortable observing distance. He may play with pulled weeds, nibble on the catmint, or writhe about kittenishly. One of his favorite tactics is to lie on his back with his paws in the air, inviting me to rub his belly so that he may sink all of his claws as well as his teeth into my tender forearm. Oh yes, we love that game.
For reasons I have yet to decipher, Big Lou often ignores the bowl of water I leave for him in favor of drinking out of the butterfly saucer's sand-and-water combo or from standing water in a potted plant after a rainstorm. Does he like the taste? Is there some kind of mineral he gets from drinking muddy or sandy water? Is he the feline equivalent of a paste-eater? I have no idea. 
As challenging as Lou sometimes makes weeding, he's nevertheless a fun and welcome addition to my garden. Should you care to come over and help with the weeding, he'll be happy to prove it to you.

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