Meet the Animals – Last, but not least…the cats!

Hey, every well-run homestead should have a cat. That’s just my honest opinion but they do keep the rodent population down…and that’s a good service. They’re also warm, affectionate and amusing companions. Home simply wouldn’t be “home” without at least a couple of felines running around. And the perfect R&R time is a rainy day with a good book in hand, a cup of tea to sip on and at least one cuddly feline purring away in my lap. I’m in my own little, private, heaven-on-earth. So, without further ado, here they are:

This guy is technically my mother’s cat. Rosco traveled across country from Missouri with Max and Mom in September of 2014. He rode all the way on the dashboard, watching the traffic, hills, mountains, rivers and lakes rolling by. He has a bit of an interesting history with Mom. She saw him in the local Pet Smart and fell in love with him, but my stepfather said, “no!” and, for the time, that was that. Now there have been many posts where I have dissed my stepfather but, in this case, he wasn’t denying her the cat to be cruel. A few years’ prior, Mom had had some problems with hoarding. I won’t go into all of the details but he was trying to prevent such a thing from happening again. Later, he finally relented only because Rosco was already neutered and not likely to get the ball rolling again. However, when they went back to Pet Smart, Rosco had already been adopted. Ironically, the person who adopted him lived in the same apartment complex. Mom saw him in the window a few days’ later. He then went to another family in that same complex and they abused him terribly–so much so, that when Mom finally got him by threatening to call the police if this family did not turn him over to her care. He was skin and bones; the woman had not been feeding him and, when Mom first brought him home, he had to eat very small meals every couple of hours because, otherwise, his stomach rebelled and he tossed it back up. He had to have his jaw re-wired; the boyfriend of his current owner had kicked him in the jaw and broken it. His first few months with Mom were a seemingly endless round of vet visits. Despite all of this, he is a lovable and friendly guy…doesn’t quite like sharing his attention with other felines but he’s not hostile to anyone either; just a little anti-social with the other cats. As you can see from his photo, he’s not starving now (chuckle).

The hefty tuxedo on the left is Paz; that beautiful white boy with the double paws is Alice Cooper. We lost Alice suddenly last November; he simply didn’t wake up from his nap. I found him curled up in his kitty bed when I got home from work (heart defect) (RIP my beloved friend). Paz, however, is still hale and hearty. He is 17 years’ young and the last of the litter that included Ariel (also lost last November to a mammary tumor), and Woody (lost in August 2012). He and his litter mates were found behind a log by my beloved Tessa (black lab/Belgian shepherd mix). My former father-in-law had had a tenant who’d left behind his female cat when he moved out. He fed her but she seldom went indoors, living outside her whole life. As a result, she was extremely wild and shy; my then-husband and I tried to capture her but she eluded us. She had one more litter of kittens; my father-in-law and brother-in-law each took in two but, again, the mother continued to avoid capture. Sadly, shortly after her second litter was born, my father-in-law saw her get hit on Route 14. Unlike his poor mother, Paz has been pampered and babied his entire 17 years…and will continue to be for however many more I am blessed with.

This is Priscilla. She is Alice’s Mama. One warm August evening, as I was sitting in the rabbit room letting the bunnies out of their cages to play and stretch their legs a bit, suddenly, Alys started thumping her back leg like ain’t nobody’s business. The other rabbits followed suit. Even with all the banging and slapping of hind legs from 10 frightened rabbits (this is a warning signal that they give to each other in the wild when a predator is near), I was still able to hear human footsteps running away from the opened window. I looked out but it was dark; I couldn’t see anyone. However, about 20 minutes later I heard a very cautious, “Me-ow!” (Oh-no!) Again, it was too dark to see anything outside but next morning, this adorable little face greeted me by the back door…an adorable little face and an enormously round belly. (Double oh-no!) Priscilla came right up to me. And, knowing there was no mistake that she’d been dumped off on this farm, I started feeding her. She would allow us to pet her but not pick her up to take her in…as Mom discovered two days’ later when she picked her up and got bit. I had to take Mom to the ER where she was given both a tetanus and the first in the series of rabies’ shots. That evening, Mom tried again and managed to get Priscilla into the bathroom for quarantine until we could get her to the vet. Later, Mom went to stay with her sister for a few days; I got bit the next morning when I reached over Priscilla to get her food bowl. So, back to the ER. Because she was quarantined in our house, I did not need the rabies’ vaccine. But I was given the tetanus…and found out I am extremely allergic to it. Two days’ later, I was back in the ER, sporting a temperature of 105 degrees. They fed me Motrin intravenously. I was there over four hours. They finally released me but, the next day, I spiked again to 106 degrees and started convulsing. It was 97 degrees outside; I was huddled under every spare quilt in the house, unable to get warm. But I survived it. And, over time, Priscilla has learned to trust us…and has proved to be quite affectionate now that her new home is assured. She also gave birth to a total of five kittens. One was stillborn. In this picture, they are only a few days’ old. One of these four, a gray and white tuxedo, died within the first week; Alice after 15 months. Ozzy (Osbourne) and Emmylou (Harris) are still with us though.

This is Ozzy. Ozzy has learned his mother’s gift for biting. He can be extremely lovable but, when he’s had enough, he will turn around and nip. He also likes to climb. On his first visit to the vet for his shots, he amused everyone so much that one of the technicians took a picture of him and put it on their website. It was a shot of him sitting on top of my head–literally. He, Priscilla and Emmylou are probably my best mousers; if they know one is about, they won’t leave the room where they’ve sensed it…even to eat. However, Ozzy likes me all to himself. The minute Emmylou tries to horn in on the attention, he hisses at her and leaves.

And, of course, this is Emmylou. She was a shy one until this past January when a nasty upper-respiratory infection went through most of these felines. Emmylou had it the worst of all; Mom & I feared for her life. But she pulled through. And, since this most recent trip to the vet hospital, she’s been a little cuddle bug, sleeping on my “lap” each night. I guess she knows she’s loved. And, while Ozzy and Priscilla are good mousers, Emmy takes the prize. She is absolutely relentless whenever a mouse is in residence. Now, if we could just convince her that its bloody remains are not exactly the sort of present her humans want to receive, we’d be all set.

This handsome guy is Kirby, a beautiful Maine coon cat who arrived here in the spring of 2014. I don’t know if he was dumped off like Priscilla, or if he simply chose this house as his home. But I heard Paz, Ariel, Trooper (lost in Jan. 2016) and Pearl hissing and spitting at something/someone in the kitchen so I went to investigate. The windows were open and Ariel had just jumped out of one of them. At the bottom right corner was this little face peeking in. I initially thought he simply a neighbor’s cat who had wandered over. As the days turned into weeks, these nightly visits continued, and I started to notice he was losing a bit of weight, I started taking bowls of food out to him. At first he was incredibly shy and wouldn’t come anywhere near me. But, over time, I could at least sit nearby and talk to him while he ate. As I have an interstate running through my front yard, and knowing it would only be a matter of time before he decided to test it, I started leaving the bowls in the attached workshop. It has its own door and I could leave it open a bit to allow him to go inside. It was also approaching fall and I was worried about him over the coming winter; it had taken me the whole late-spring and all of summer to even get this far. At first he was distrusting of the workshop but, eventually, hunger won out and he started venturing inside the doorway. Each day, I put the bowl a little deeper into the workshop. And, finally, I was able to watch one morning while he went in to eat and sneak around the outside to shut him in. He was NOT happy about it. He hissed at me when I brought in a cat pan for him (I wasn’t even sure he’d know how to use it) and hid behind some of my spare bee supers. I called the vet. This one wasn’t going to go in for testing and shots easily. It would be another month before I could get him into a carry-on cage for transport; the vet hospital kept an open appointment for him. As I did with the workshop, I had to leave his food just inside the door of the cage and then a little farther in until he got comfortable with going all the way into the cage with me also standing nearby. As I had done with the workshop, I eventually shut him inside and called the vet, letting them know we were on our way for that open appointment. By the time I got him to the vet, he had ripped open his toes on the cage door, trying to escape. He howled and hissed and I was beginning to think maybe I was going to have to turn him loose again after we got him neutered and his shots–if we could get them done. The vet and technicians pulled on these long gloves that went all the way to their shoulders. I opened the cage and he shot out of it like a cannonball, hit the wall over the sink and slid down it, leaving bloody runnels everywhere. The vet was able to throw a towel over him in the sink and sedate him. He got his shots and immediately into surgery. I brought him home later and he spent a few days in the bathroom, recuperating, and also starting to allow me to actually pet him and scratch him under the chin. Now, he is the most lovable and affectionate cat of all. He does not like to be picked up but he will sit in my lap forever if I let him. We have daily “Kirby time” where he just cuddles and purrs contentedly. He also came down with the upper-respiratory infection last January; the difference in his behavior for this trip to the vet was like night and day. He was a perfect little lamb. He also played surrogate Papa to Priscilla’s kittens when they arrived. The picture below is him with Ozzy and Alice.

Priscilla’s kittens were weaned and she finally went in to be spayed. About a week later, just before Halloween, Whitney showed up.

Again, another trip to the vet for shots and testing, etc; she was unlike either Priscilla or Kirby, going along quite easily and charming everyone. She came back home and, after a few days of letting the other cats “meet” her through the bars of a large dog crate, I let her out. She immediately ran upstairs. I followed her closely, trying not to spook her but also not sure where she was going because she seemed to be on a mission of some sort. And she was. She ran right into my bedroom and jumped on the bed where Priscilla was sleeping. Priscilla jumped up and, if they could have shrieked and spoken, I swear they would’ve been saying, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in, like, forever!” They ran right up to each other and started licking each other’s faces like they were bosom buddies. The vet estimated Priscilla to be about 2 years’ of age when we brought her in that first time; Whitney to be about a year. Whitney’s size and shape is nearly identical to Priscilla’s and Mom & I have been wondering ever since if Whitney isn’t an offspring from a previous litter for Priscilla. While I heard the running footsteps away from the window when Priscilla arrived, Whitney was simply there one day. Do their previous owners live nearby and, after seeing that I took in Priscilla & Co., decide to dump Whitney off, too? Or did Whitney somehow follow her scent? Is that even possible? Or had Whitney been left at the same time as Priscilla but wandered off into the woods or to a neighbor’s house for awhile? We’ll probably never know but I’ve never seen two cats take to each other that quickly before. I am convinced that they were already acquainted long before.

Last of my felines is Pearl. And definitely not least. Pearl, and her sister, Megan, were on display at the vet hospital. I fell in love with both of them but, as I already had 4 cats at home at the time, I took a deep breath and steeled myself to say, “No!” A few weeks’ later, I went back for another routine visit with another pet and they were still on display. The shelter sponsoring them was hoping to place them together. Again, I steeled myself to say, “No!” There was a third visit. I almost caved this time. Instead, I left but I told myself that if they were still there the next time I went in, I would inquire about adopting them. About a week later, I had a rabbit die unexpectedly. I brought her in to be examined, to try to determine the cause of death; I feared it might be something contagious. It turns out it wasn’t; Isabella had a weak heart. But Megan and Pearl were still there. I took them home. Megan died in June of 2013 to cancer but Pearl has been my little shadow for 10 years; she is 13 years’ old. Sweet, gentle but also timid, she used to get bullied by Trooper and Paz; Paz still gives her some static on occasion but Kirby adores her. Priscilla, Ozzy, Emmylou and Whitney adore her. Rosco tolerates her, like he does everyone else, but at least he doesn’t bully her. She also helps me with my yoga routine each morning, stretching out on the floor beside me and twisting and turning as I also go through some similar poses.

Here she is again with Priscilla (back of chair) and Emmylou (right).

May God bless you & keep you!

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