By Sarah Holm
When my sister Laura and I walk out to the barn, the first thing we do is run to see Toad.
"Hi, Toady!" we cry happily as we scoop her up, "Are you happy to see us?"
"Squeak!" she yells at us, then conversationally, "Prowrr, sqeak, mew,
"Oh, she is happy to see us, she says so!"
You are probably wondering why we have a cat named Toad. Well, actually her name is not Toad, its Copernicus. We thought that naming a kitten after a smart scientist would be amusing, I suggested the name Copernicus, after the scientist Nicholas Copernicus, and everyone agreed.
If her name is Copernicus, why do we call her Toad? Well, Copernicus is a very short cat. She has short legs, a short, round head, a short tail, and is well, short. I watched her sitting in the feed aisle one day, she was looking up at me with her big, golden eyes and with her gray fat body sitting there it reminded me of something. Something familiar. I thought about it, then the fateful name slipped through my lips.
"Toad!" I cried, scooping her up, "Look what I found, Laura, a big, gray toad!"
"Oh, that's not nice to say to her!" Laura said, rescuing the offended kitten. "She's a baby kitten, not a fat, ugly toad!"
"Squeak, queak, purr, rowr, MEW!" Copernicus said.
"See," I said, "she agrees with me. She said, 'I'm a cute little toad cat!' "
"No!" Laura said, "She said, 'I'm not a fat toad, I'm a cute little baby!' "
"Meow!" Copernicus yelled at us.
"Come on, Laura, I mean toad in a nice way, can't you see her big golden toad eyes and her gray fur? It's a wonderful nickname."
After some arguing on my part and more input from Copernicus, Laura came around. Soon everyone was calling her Toad.
Toad is a unique cat. She is what we call "a talking cat"; she seems to think she is speaking English when she meows. She can get annoying, she will follow you around the barn squeaking and screaming at you until you answer her. If you try to ignore her, she gets louder. Most conversations with her go like this.
"Whaow! Mew, squeak, grewerr." Toad says as she comes up to you.
"Go away, Toad. I'm busy milking cows."
"Squeak?" She'll say, obviously asking 'Why?'
"Because, Toady, if we don't milk them, you won't have any milk to drink."
"That's right, Toad, now go away."
Toad will put her paws on your leg and poke you with her claws.
"Ow, Toad! Be nice, you're hurting me." "Squeak!" She'll complain as she walks away, "Rowr, mew."
Toad feels our time spent feeding, milking and cleaning up after the cows would be better spent adoring her.
Toad also has a great sense of balance. She loves to sit on Laura's head! It is fun to watch poor Laura try to get her work done with an eight-pound perched cat on her head.
Toad will lie comfortably on Laura and will talk with her as she rides around. Laura will translate Toad's squeaks and meows as she does her chores.
"Toady, how am I supposed to feed the cows with you on my head?"
"Oh, I don't know." Laura translates for Toad, "It's not my problem."
"But Toady, if the cows don't get food they can't give you any milk."
"Then feed them, silly person."
"But Toady, I can't see where I'm going, you're pushing my hat over my eyes."
Laura will reach up and try to adjust the bossy cat. Toad will growl at Laura and bite her fingers so Laura can't take her off. Finally Laura will have to yell for me to come help and, with difficulty, I will remove the grumpy cat from her head. Once Toad is on the ground her personality changes. She will follow Laura around with a pleading look in her eyes, squeaking softly, begging Laura to let her back up.
"Toady, you're breaking my heart!" Laura will say as she gives in to the cat.
You can almost see the grin on the delighted kitty's face as she climbs up Laura's pants leg, gets a boost to Laura's shoulder and leaps onto Laura's head.
Sometimes Toad will use someone else to get back on "her head," if Laura refuses to give in. She will come up to me asking to be held, so I will pick her up. If I go near Laura, Laura will pet her. Her strategy working, Toad will crouch on my shoulder, focus on Laura's head and with a calculating glint in her eyes; prepare to spring. Sometimes Laura will notice Toad's concentration and will start backing away.
"Stop, Toady! Don't look at me like that!"
As Laura starts running Toad springs for her head. Laura will scream as Toad lands on her, sometimes on her head, sometimes on her back. Once Toady jumped too far and went right over Laura's head! Luckily, Laura caught her before she hit the ground. Wherever she lands, she always ends up back on Laura's head. Which is just what she wanted in the first place.
Once firmly on "her head" again, Toad will fold her paws under herself and start purring as Laura walks away. If a cat could smile, it wouldn't look a whole lot different then the look Toad has on her face.
Farm Fact: A cat's hearing is much more sensitive than humans and dogs. Cats see six times better in the dark and at night than humans.