The Nutrition Nazis
Elders and the Changing Blogosphere – Part 1

How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges

category_bug_oliver This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).


For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.


During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap off the second-floor deck.


It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.


It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to get somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.


Still, it was tiring for Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.


At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.


When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he spent the night sleeping on the chaise. Ronni tried that one time herself and understood the attraction on a cool summer night.


Ollie likes to eat at about 5:30PM and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.


Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…


No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…


No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…


Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…


…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer…


They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where garden equipment is kept.


No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.


Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.


Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.


Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats sometimes forget humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now.


[Doesn't everyone have a favorite eccentric relative or two? Read about Celia Jones's today at The Elder Storytelling Place in a story titled My Aunt Sadie, The Cat Lady.]


Absolutely beguiling story-telling here, Ronni. Love the photos and laughed at the sleek Ollie looking like a nerd in the last shot.

OMG! You must have been dead worried.
This last photo of Ollie just cracked me up though. :))
Do you think he knows how you've retaliated ;)
Don't ever let him out again!

loved it!

Great story. . .for us cat lovers, at least. Love the photos that tell the story too. Have to worry that I don't think I'd be wanting to show pix of my guest closet, etc. And the last photo. Ta-da! I also have a fine one similar to yours. However, since they never get out, I don't need to share it.

And that's not a criticism, lest anyone one should think that!

Oh yes, very inelegant indeed. And yup, you are brave to try and make him a house purrson.

My cat did that once, a few years ago. I was so freaked out I broke the key to the building in the keyhole. Luckily when she leaped (or fell) to freedom she landed in rolled-up wire garden fencing, and couldn't get out of it. I have no idea how long she was there before I came home from work, but if I could thank garden fencing, I would. It kept her safe while I was out.

I know the feeling of a pounding heart when a cat escapes. My daughter left her cat in my care when she moved to California. We had just moved into a new home in a new town and the door was open while things were being brought in. The cat slyly chose this time to escape. She didn't return home until the next morning so I had a "pounding heart night" because I knew my daughter would never forgive me if anything happened to her companion. Cats are so clever and so independent. You never own a cat; they own you.

Poor Ollie.

I used to live in a apartment house beneath a couple who had a young manx who would take flying leaps through an open window into the courtyard below.

P. S. I do think that you have the upper hand now, Ronni. It must drive Ollie crazy.

Oh My. All's well that ends well but poor Ollie. He did so enjoy his outdoor privileges. Do you think he knows how naughty he was?

"Please Ronni, I will be good and not go flying away again if you will sit outside with me. It was the bird's fault. She made me do it. I was minding my own business when that birdie flew onto our porch and teased me and, well, I had no choice.


Been there, done that, many many times, Ronni. I can appreciate every helpless moment you felt, and am glad it turned out well at the end. Ollie is still one handsome cat, though, in spite of the indignity of that last pose of his!

Hi Ronni

Just sent this "Ollie adventure" to my cousin who has a cat that she lets out on the porch for short periods of time. So far her cat has not gone out into the world.

By the way, your lounge chair looks very inviting!

Glad it ended well. I go through the same thing with my cat. At least Blackie never was an outdoor cat so he doesn't know what he's missing though that doesn't stop him from yowling at the window when he sees me out there.

But it's coyote country.

Last photo made me laugh! I have a 17 year old queen and two 4 mo. old kittens. There is a theory you can have indoor cats. The kittens are in the destructo-cat phase, damage 1 , damage 2, damage3. I happened to glance outside thru the patio door at midnight and there they were rolicking in the summer night. No idea of how they got out. The vision of me chasing them in my bed clothes was daunting. The next escape they were hinding in the tall ornamental grasses, quaking oats. But they have won; the odds were 2:1. They get to go in and out from 10AM to suppertime. They are neutered and have shots, ID tags. The house is better and since they hunt mostly at dawn and dusk, the wildlife has a fighting chance. Yesterday, 4 days into outdoor freedom, Gingi came in without his collar and tags. Tell me how do you get your way with Ollie.

A Curious Cat

A curious cat likes to climb,
so why should that be such a crime?
Don't get all upset
when your pretentious pet
meows: "Please let me have a good time."

To avoid any misapprehension
you may like to note my convention
of yowling to test
if you really need rest
or are wanting to pay me attention.

"Your judgement is heading downhill.
I fear you are mentally ill.
You must lack a brain
or be quite fond of pain
if you think you can feed me that pill."

Just ignore them when you're busy stalking.
When they call for you, just keep on walking.
Treat them all with disdain.
You don't have to explain.
When in doubt, let your tail do the talking.

In the morning an east window's best.
After midday migrate to the west.
If you sleep the whole day
then at night you can play
by pretending you're demon possessed.

*Borrowed from Virge


You must have REALLY been annoyed at Ollie to have published that last picture of him.

Thank Heavens he doesn't have a camera to retaliate.....

What a great story! I lived in places with decks for 11 years with my precious kitty. She loved to lie out there and snooze in the sun, and she never jumped again after the first time, when she just a tiny little thing. She landed just fine but I suspect it taught her a scary lesson.

I've actually been told that cats somehow open their legs when they fall to slow themselves down, kind of like a bat? Not sure if it's true, but unless they fall on concrete I think most of them do just fine. I'd be more worried about Ollie wanting to explore again than the fall itself.

By the way, your deck is lovely. To gain some privacy on my second and third floor decks, I always purchased a piece of outdoor carpet for my decks and cut it to fit. I used double stick tape on the edges to make it flat if necessary. It made me feel less exposed and far more cozy in my little perches overlooking the world. Plus my kitty loved it for rolling around and scratching her back and paws. Enjoy your nice fall weather!

Great story! I'm glad it had a happy ending.

That was very funny and I'm glad it ended well. They can sure put us through the worries. He's a gorgeous cat

Oh yes, I cannot count the times I have been outside near dusk banging a spoon against a can of tuna in search of one my precious ones!

My girls are now housebound too. I saw a coyote run through my neighbor's yard. I am in Tampa, Florida!

Too dangerous nowadays for my furry girls!

Oh Ronni! So glad Ollie is okay... what a scare! Wonderful story and loved the photos to go with (especially the last one) Ha!

I understand. My kids' cats were good escape artists. Panic prevailed on such occasions. Ollie has been a bad boy. Perhaps,in time he will learn not to mess with you but I doubt it. Someone wiser than I said, "Dogs come when you call; cats have answering machines."


What a treat of a story. I love hearing about any cat adventure, but to have ALL of those accompanying photographs, even the hiding places...was really terrific!

What a fabulous story! I read the whole thing to Ada with warnings about human retaliation methods! Dear sweet Ollie - how glad I am that you are safe and sound once again.

This would make a fabulous picture book for all ages, and in any medium or format. Go for it.

My, my, my, you worried the hell out of me. So relieved that the the story ended well. So very relieved to find Ollie doing fine.

When I lived upstairs in an apartment complex, my cat fell or jumped off the balcony one day. I looked and looked, and finally found him - in a car engine in the carport area!

Needless to say he didn't go outdoors after that.

Had me worried there for a minute! I'm so glad you found Ollie, and I hope he's able to deal with being grounded.

Hey, where are Ollie's supporters?!
I have a trio of orange tabbies spoiled rotten, of course. But I couldn't imagine trying to keep them inside. They are harnessed, tagged, microchipped, and belled; then I just bless 'em and let 'em go. They have their own doors and come & go at their pleasure 24/7.
Granted, I'm not in a city, but the neighborhood has its own feline and canine hoodlums. And since we live in the mountains of southern NM, we have a variety of wild critters, too.
Still - I couldn't keep them in. Wouldn't couldn't.

Delightful story, Ronni!! You sure do have the knack! Loved it!

So here’s a story for you. Two weeks ago I heard Arther kitty thundering across the deck and looked out in time to see her dive under the porch. That's generally indicative of an unwelcome canine chasing the cats. I rushed to the front door to yell at the intruder (dogs FEAR my thundering voice!—-no kidding) and saw Ruby the cat racing past the house, right up the middle of the road. She was fluffed about twice her size (which is a lot, seeing as how she's naturally voluptuous). I yelled “RUBY!” which startled her pursuant, who then veered into our yard and over the fence to the neighbors'. It was a mountain lion. A few seconds later and Ruby would have been an appetizer. We live in the wilds of Montana!

This is a perfect cat story told by a master story teller.

Hi Ronnie,

I have stories I could tell you about escaping kitties.. but I won't regail you with them now. I found this page after searching for Ollie the cat, since I just helped my Ollie cross over to the Rainbow Bridge. I really appreciated finding this and the wonderful photos.

I'm just south of you in Southern Maine. It just struck me that I went looking for Ollie kitties and found yours so close by.

Give your Ollie an extra hug and scritches from me

Really good story. Loved it.

Enjoyed re-reading this and am feeling grateful you made sure you had him those extra years, up until Saturday, May 19th, 2018.

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