Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tzeitel and the Gerbils

When I was a teenager my sister Cheryl had a cat we called Tzeitel, named after a girl in the movie "Fiddler on the Roof." Tzeitel was solid gray in color and she walked with a slight limp ever since kittenhood when she was caught in a closing door and suffered nerve damage.

She was a sweet cat with a pleasant disposition, getting along well with my West Highland White Terrier, Tami.  She also loved my two gerbils (whose names I have long forgotten.) I kept my gerbils in an aquarium tank with a lid to keep them from escaping, as one of my mother's greatest fears was rodents loose in the house. 

I had a hamster ball so that my gerbils could run around and get exercise, one at a time.  They were so cute in that ball and really enjoyed having play time out of their tank. Sometimes I would leave them in the ball for an hour or so to allow them some freedom.  But I didn't always watch them, and one day I returned to my room to find the gerbil missing, having escaped somehow from the hamster ball. I was terrified that Tzeitel had eaten my gerbil, but I needn't have feared. I found the cat sitting next to the gerbil, staring at him and clearly fascinated with the little creature. 

From then, on, Tzeitel spent her time trying to get closer to the gerbils.  My dog Tami knew instinctively that gerbils and cats did not mix, and she became the family tattle-tale. She would race over to me, stare into my eyes, click her jaws and race upstairs, clearly wanting me to follow her. There upstairs I would find Tzeitel in the gerbil tank, curled up like a momma tending her "kittens."  She purred and watched the gerbils crawl over her and play between her curled-up paws, occasionally picking one up and moving it to another spot if the little creature nipped her too hard.

Animals don't always act as we would expect them to act. Neither do people, for that matter. Sometimes they will surprise you, and this is one of life's joys.

No comments:

Post a Comment