Snowbell and The Phantom Ferret

It seems that every member of our family including the pets has an important need of some kind.  Snowbell, however, is just speshul.  She must have been the runt of the litter.  It’s the only explanation I can find to explain her behaviors.

She is utterly obsessed with her food dish.  When she’s up and about she checks it about every ten minutes.  If it’s not full to the brim she panics and finds me.  She cries and cries until I move the food around in her dish to cover up the clearly displayed bottom.  That’s it.  She becomes very upset if she can see the bottom of her dish.

She also compulsively scratches at smooth surfaces all over the house–doors, windows, floors, and tables.  My least favorite habit? She gets bored and lonely around 5:30 AM and decides that my husband and I should get up.  She, therefore, puts all her energy into waking us up by any means necessary.  It’s very, very annoying.  The most annoying thing about this particular feline compulsion is that if I do get up to try to figure out what she wants, she crawls into my spot on the bed and stretches out.  The damn cat steals my spot on the bed because it’s warm while I’m up trying to figure out why she is waking me up.  I can’t decide if she’s cognitively impaired or bloody brilliant!

Suffice it to say, our speshul Snowbell and I have a rather interesting relationship.  She’s a terribly needy cat but, at the same time, she’s my torturer.  I’ve often told her in the wee hours of the morning that one day she would get hers.  Well, in a way, she has.

Doireann attended a graduation party on Saturday.  The guy hosting it had two ferrets, and Doireann is an animal lover.  There was no way that she was going to be able to stay away from ferrets.  She let them climb all over her.  She even walked one of them on a leash in the neighborhood.  I’m still trying to imagine that.  Sadly, all I can see in my mind’s eye is Marc Singer as The Beastmaster plotting with one of his ferret companions…


I just dated myself.

Doireann came home covered in ferret hair.  She picked up Snowbell to cuddle her, and Snowbell took one smell of Doireann and freaked out.  She puffed up, her tail becoming that of a raccoon’s, clawed her way out of Doireann’s arms, and vanished under the couch.  Doireann was shocked.  She had no idea what had just happened.  We looked for Snowbell under the couch, and there she was.  Her pupils were dilated.  She was panting, and she looked to be doubled in size what with her fur puffed up.

“Do you think it’s because of the ferrets?” Doireann asked sounding confused.  “Do you think I smell weird?”

Ferrets are musky creatures, and they are predators.  I suggested that we find Ginger in order to gauge her response.  Ginger, of course, is an unusual cat.  She’s one of the most tolerant animals I’ve ever known.  She finds people who are stressed or upset and sits with them.  She even likes dogs.  As I suspected, Ginger had no response to Doireann’s l’eau de ferret.  Snowbell was another story.

Snowbell hid in the basement.  She hid in our room.  She hid under the dining room table.  She was suspicious of Doireann.  She slinked around the house looking under furniture.  She sat in our bedroom craning her neck trying to see what might come around the corner.  Her pupils remained dilated for hours.  She looked terrified.

She must have believed that there was a ferret somewhere in the house.  A phantom ferret.

She is skittish, nervous, anxious and unsure.  She jumps at every noise.  She is hypervigilant.  She appears to be stalking something, but there is nothing to stalk.  In her feline mind, however, she smells a ferret.  Still.  So, the damn thing must be here somewhere!

Poor Snowbell is still not right.  She is still hiding, running, and searching the house for the phantom ferret when she finds her courage although she has settled down enough to come sit next to me.  I don’t think it would be our family without someone experiencing some unusual neediness every day.  Even our dog had a brain tumor.  Maybe if I called phantom animal control they might get rid of the phantom ferret, and Snowbell could finally relax.

Why does it really matter? Grace keeps following Snowbell around full of concern, “Snowbell, are you okay? Come out, Snowbell! Mom! Snowbell is afraid!” After 48 hours of this, I’m ready to catch the phantom ferret and release it back into wild.


“I think I see it! It’s right there!”



2 thoughts on “Snowbell and The Phantom Ferret

  1. That’s hysterical. I can identify with Snowbell’s anxiety. A phantom ferret is a good metaphor for the sources of a lot of my anxiety. And probably just as real.

    • You are right. We all have our own phantom ferret, don’t we? Fortunately, the Phantom Ferret is gone! I do wonder what will replace it in Snowbell’s case. She is so high-strung…

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