The Ordinary Life of My Cats Made Extraordinary When the Egyptian Geese Arrived

The feeding assembly line!

Life in our household of eight felines is relatively militant, especially when it comes to their morning routine and breakfast. It’s a dizzying, exhausting affair, at least for me. I wake up at 5:45 a.m. and begin my trek to the kitchen. First stop – scooping the litter boxes. If I’m lucky, it’s a quick scoop and go. Often, however, one of them will decide my scooping is a signal for them to go again, so I must wait for that pomp (or poop) and circumstance to end so I can finish.

Next – food prep. Five “regular” cats and three special needs – Jazmine, Zee, and Mia – all require a specific diet. Zee has thyroid issues and takes half a methimazole pill, twice a day. Although he will eat it in a pill pocket, mixed in his food, it’s not a guarantee, so I have to gently pry his mouth open to put it down his throat to make sure he gets the critical dosage he needs. He also gets a liquid dietary supplement that I drop into his food, further complicating his regiment.

Jazmine has calcium issues, so she also gets a specific diet, supplemented by chia seeds which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (pre-soaked in water to aid in digestion). She initially hated them, but after trial and error, I tuck them into a small pill pocket which she loves, and Mia has a sensitive stomach, so she has food catered to her needs.

Jazmine patiently waiting for her chia seeds.

Because their special needs canned food is served over several portions, I must refrigerate the unused portion until I need it. I don’t like using the microwave to warm it up (they hate it cold), so I’ve devised a system in which I heat a shallow amount of water in a corning ware dish. I put the cold food in a Tupperware container, immerse it into the corning ware dish (keeping it secure by placing our tea kettle on top of it) and let the hot water slowly warm the food. Whew. Tired yet?

To ensure each cat is getting their proper food, I prepare Zee’s food first and bring him into our guest bathroom to eat (with the door shut) while I prepare the food for the others because if he eats with them, they’ll try to steal his food. It’s then a game of juggling as I place the dishes on the floor to make sure everyone gets what they’re supposed to. Mia gets bullied, so she also goes into the guest bathroom, so when I bring her in, Zee comes out. At this point, he eats the remaining food in his dish in the kitchen with the others, which, for some bizarre reason, he now can without them bothering him.

Then there’s the cleaning and filling the water dishes. And removing all the detractor mats I must put on the floor before I go to bed at night at strategic places to make sure there is no territorial spraying on the couch or certain cabinets, which can sometimes happen when you have a multicat home. Mia will scratch to come out of the bathroom when she’s done eating, and then there’s the cleanup. Cat food cans, dishes, Tupperware, etc. and I also squeeze in making a pot of coffee.

Grooming Zee with a cat wipe.

All of this requires Olympian efforts on my part. Any dilly-dallying or veering off track could be a domino effect of havoc, such as fighting, fur flying, and tails spraying in impatience. I’ve got it down to a science, but it doesn’t end there. Close to 17 now, Zee is having difficulties with grooming, so after he eats, I clean his fur with a cat wipe and gently brush his fur which is now prone to mats. When that’s done, and only after that’s all done, can I venture to the couch with my cup of coffee to unwind before a hectic day begins for me.

I love this time of day. It’s still dark and blissfully quiet, and it’s when I play my iPhone games and take a first glance at my emails. The cats also relish this time of the day. Several will rapidly settle either on my lap or legs, or next to me, and the others will gravitate to wherever is their favorite spot of the day. This real estate ritual typically sets the tone for the rest of the day – an hours-long nap fest – even after I eventually get up to feed my outdoor critters – Blue Jays, Cardinals, Squirrels, and more – who seem to live by the same regimented and impatient playbook as my cats, as they chatter and squawk waiting for sunflower nuts and peanuts before I move on to my office for the day.

Geez lady, it’s nearly 7 a.m. – get with the program and feed us!

That’s it. It’s predictable. It’s ordinary. And it’s 24/7. Except for one day when it all changed – when out in our yard there arose such a clatter, that the cats sprang from wherever to investigate the chatter. And by chatter, I mean the exceedingly intense and overly dramatic high-pitched, trumpeted honking of a mated pair of Egyptian geese who had descended upon the roof of our tiki hut in our backyard.

Hey! Loud noises and chattering is my department! What’s all the ruckus!

These geese – also known as the Nil goose – are named for their place of origin in the Nile Valley in Africa, with numerous introduced populations derived from escaped ornamental birds in Western Europe, Florida, and New Zealand. They are quite large, with conspicuous eye patches of dark chocolate-brown. The female resembles the male, though is smaller, often with darker markings on her beak.  They are also monogamous, pairing for life, and as we live in South Florida, it seems our tiki hut was the perfect B & B for their very loud and aggressive mating ritual. They typically mate in the spring and then nest on the ground, sheltered by vegetation, sometimes higher on a ledge or in a tree, or in an abandoned nest of another species up in a tree, or inside a hole.

The happy couple checks into our deluxe tiki suite, rooftop edition.

The cats were instantly mesmerized and glued themselves to the window to witness the spectacle (hours long, mind you) which not only included the elaborate mating dance, but the excitement of one of the geese taking a quick skim over the pool and then a walk around our deck without any modesty or decorum whatsoever.

Jazmine, Kizmet, and Peanut settle in for the show.

Since my cats are cooped up in nearly the same environment every day, challenged only by the entertainment I provide them with toys and whatnot, or an errant lizard that gets into the house, this was an exhilarating day, to say the least. And as disruptive as the birds were, it was worth it to see how happy they made the cats. I think, overall, the geese would give our backyard a 5-star review rating on Yelp, and we look forward to seeing the happy couple again next year if we’re lucky.

And honestly, we live with a Bengal cat – all two pounds of her – if that, and she puts these geese to shame. If you want to hear a loud and disruptive noise, just come visit our house. Zoey has a habit of stalking and “killing” plush angry bird toys. Each kill is announced with a blood-curdling, primal, guttural yowl. If you don’t believe me, just watch the below video with the sound turned up. And this is one of her “mild” prowls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera around for one of her 5-alarm episodes that can literally break the sound barrier, but this at least gives you an idea! I also apologize for the odd camera angles, but I had to take the video discreetly from behind our couch because if I tried to film her directly, it would have spooked her and she would have run away.


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  1. I’ve never seen geese like that before. They’re nothing like the geese we have around our house. ~Ernie

  2. meowmeowmans says:

    Oh wow, that’s super cool! We have geese here, but they sure don’t look like that!

  3. jmuhj says:

    The geese are beautiful! Straight out of ancient Egypt!
    Our beloved angel Tarifa used to do the same thing as Zoey, jumping on the coffee table, selecting her favorite purple twinkle ball, and parading it through the hall, with her own bloodcurdling howls. This was supposed to show her lowly servant how to hunt successfully. Servant was a failure in that department, so when our roomies moved in, she transferred her attention to them. Alas, the three of us primates did not fare well at all. ;(

  4. Leah says:

    Lots of excitement for the kitties, brought by those visiting geese! Zoey adds some pretty impressive sounds too!

  5. Brian Frum says:

    Those geese are sure pretty ones! You go Zoey!!!

  6. Ellen Pilch says:

    Your routine sounds a lot like mine. I have 11 cats and some have special diets. 4 are on thyroid meds twice a day and Emmy is also on heart meds. They are worth all the effort though.

  7. oh my! Levi just heard Zoey and ran to look out the window! Your feeding routine has me needing a nap! I don’t know how you handle it! I have never seen geese like those, EVER!! They are so interesting looking! What a fun post!