Inez Castor

Ordinarily readers are remarkably patient with me, but last week I got an email from a very angry woman. She must not have lived here long, since she accused me of hating cats. Most folks know that Shadow Cat Tailchaser is my significant other.

Feral the first half of his life, he's spent the last six years with me. Because he lives indoors, he should have another eight or 10 good years. He gets good food, Glucosamine, hairball prevention and unlimited lap time. His litter box is cleaned after every use and he sleeps in the big bed.

He sleeps hard and relaxed, all his inner senses aware that he's safe. He doesn't have to be alert for possible attack from other cats, dogs, people, raccoons, coyotes or cougars. It took years for him to learn to play, and despite offerings of many toys it's that first toy, his own tail, that he likes best.

Because he doesn't have access to grass as a digestive aid, I raise

wheat grass for him. If you'd like to do the same for your indoor cat,

this is how easy it is. Start with three of the smallest deli bowls, a

bag of potting soil and a pound of wheat berries. Wheat berries can be

found in bulk at Harvest Natural Foods. This should last about a year.

andbull; Day 1: Poke holes in the bottom of the bowls and mix potting soil

and a generous teaspoon of wheat berries in one bowl, water, form a

walnut-size hole in the center and sit it aside in a saucer or shallow

bowl for drainage. I cover it with a woven trivet to provide both

darkness and air for the seeds.

andbull; Day 3: Sit the germinated seed in a sunny window and start the

second bowl just like the first.

andbull; Day 5: Place the lush grass in your cat's favorite watch-the-world

place where he can nibble at will. Put a rock in the center indention so

he doesn't accidentally dump the whole mess in your shoes. Learned that

part the hard way, I did. That's also a good time to let the cat lick a

bit of malt hairball prevention off your finger.

Repeat forever, and once you've got everything started, five minutes

every four or five days ought to keep the fresh grass growing. I can't

imagine life without a cat, and they're far too wonderful to spend short

lives hiding, starving and fighting to survive. The life expectancy of

outdoor cats is about four to six years, as opposed to 18-20 years for

indoor cats.

Would he like to go outside? You bet your boots he would! But then,

my pre-school children would have liked to run across parking lots, too.

Fortunately I had sense enough to prevent such life-threatening

actions. Cats, like little kids, need a responsible parent.

Reach Inez Castor, a longandshy;time Triplicate columnist, at