Friday, August 2, 2013

Who's In Charge Here?

This is a blog entry which was dropped when the format changed last year.   I'm posting it again as there has been a change here.   Our friend Oscar, the carport cat, as found dead in the side yard a couple of weeks ago.   He was pointed back to the house when he died.  We miss him a lot.   But, on and see who is really in charge here.


A tee shirt popular in the 1970's said, " BEAM ME SCOTTY, THERE'S NO INTELLIGENT LIFE DOWN HERE", and was a reference to the old Star Trek series.  Obviously, the person who wrote was visiting a planet with no cats.  .   

I have said for a long time that if the average American was as intelligent as any of my cats and even half as polite, then daily life here would be safer and more enjoyable.  In fact, let me expand on that idea to include "self sufficient", too.  

My wife and i seem to run a home for needy cats.   They come here with their little hobo-packs and toothbrushes and sit on our porch till we let them in, determine their names and feed them.  This has been going on a long time now and more than a few of the fuzzy beasts have taken advantage of our hospitality.   

Currently we are feeding and running errands for five felines, in a wide variety of colors, sizes, ages, sexes and temperaments. If there were a United Nations Of Cats, it could be headquartered here. 

Let's begin with the oldest, Gizmo.   Named after the little creature in the movie about Gremlins, she both looks and has often has acted that way.   Currently, she is about 18 years old and neither she nor us can remember her actual birthday or even the year.   She was the last  cat of a litter to be given away by some friends in Michigan and had been kept alone in the cellar till we came along.  That may have shaped her personality.  Something did.   She has always been a complainer, seemingly a common trait among "Tortoiseshell " cats, a branch of the Calico tribe.  Her life has been spent largely alone, sleeping in the furthest closet for many years whenever we were home and burrowed under the blankets on the bed otherwise.   For years we would see her pass by on her trips between the closet and the litter box, but only fleetingly.   Even now, these many years later, she has decided that she will live in the enclosed back entry way of the house, with her own litter box, food dish and water bowl.  Having a warm blanket-in-a-box bed with an electric heater blowing on her is just to be expected.   Otherwise, the complaining starts, and loudly.   She went profoundly deaf several years ago and really doesn't know how loud she is.   But, she is a little bit like having one's grandma come to live with them, and we take care of her in spite of her strange old-cat habits.  

Adagio is our Hurricane Katrina cat.    Just about a year after Katrina, while much of South Louisiana was still broken and muddy a nice looking Siamese moved into our yard.   He was rather shy, and we didn't call for him, thinking that any cat that pretty must have a home.   He began hanging around closer to the house, and then running full speed the length of the house on the roof at about midnight.  This became a regular thing.   He climbed up our pecan tree, jumped onto the travel trailer, then jumped the five feet or so onto the carport and spent his nights up there.   I suppose it was safe, and he had a great view.  One day, while I was out of town my wife and daughter made friends with him and gave him a name.  They called me on the road and told me the news.   When I got home, Adagio sat on my lap outside and told me he really needed some attention.   I was working in our travel trailer and he came right in with me.  He knew exactly how to find his way around, and knew just how to jump up and sit on the back of the couch and peer out the window.   When my wife was at work one day I let him into the house.    He made a complete inside perimeter tour, looking into every corner and under all the furniture as if searching for someone he knew.   He waited every day until I'd let him into the camper where he'd make a regular route and end up on the back of the couch.  

Making a long story short, we adopted him, as he adopted us.   I searched all the lost pet sites looking for someone reporting the loss of a beautiful and intelligent Siamese with no luck.  We came to the conclusion that he had been a FEMA trailer cat and had just lost his way when the trailer was moved or the family was relocated.  

He has grown to be a great friend and taken on the rather onerous task of making each of us laugh every day.  He is a clown and a smart one at that.  

Next came Mr. Murphy.   "Daddy , daddy, there's a really cute little gray cat in the back yard.   I'm going out to pet him."  my daughter said.   And, the die was cast.  Yes, indeed, he was a cute little gray cat, and one who was wearing a flea collar.   He took to my daughter immediatly and they sat on the back porch for an hour, talking.  But, with a collar, he must have a home, right?    We left him outside.  

In fact he moved into the carport and ate out of an old dish for many months.   I let the hose nozzle drip just a little and he could turn his head and drink, and drink, and drink.  We started bringing him in on the cold nights and he got along with the other cats, an important consideration.  Boys will be boys and he started coming home mornings with cuts and bloody spots.   Eventually he must have crossed trails with a really tough cat.  He turned up with some major bites and cuts on his head, requiring about $400 worth of shots , stitches, drainage appliances and medicines, but we can't sit and watch an animal suffer.    The doctor was very clear when he explained that if we left this cat outside, that he and I would be developing a costly relationship.   Mr. Murphy moved inside.   

Since then he has grown to match the rather impressive size of his feet.   He has a beautiful double-thick coat of glossy gray fur and a magnificent tail.  Having the two "big boys" in the house didn't really create problems but the excitement level increased when they raced the length of the house and wrestled in mostly good-natured fun.  He found a faucet dripping in the bathroom one day and his earlier skill-set of drinking from the faucet came back strong.   Yes, i admit it.   We sometimes let it drip now, just to make him happy.  

For about five years a "Russian Blue", or something quite close to that has been our official carport-cat.  Oscar is a rough, tough survivor.  He has come home chewed and dripping blood.   He refuses any sissy medicines or any more attention than a pat on the head and a dish of dry food.  There is no picking up Oscar.   I've tried and he is a strong competitor in the wriggling event.  He has never bitten or clawed or hissed and is a perfect gentleman to all of us two-legged types.   

In 2009 we went camping for a weekend in October and brought the camper home on Sunday and left the door open as we took out every bit of food, turned off the water and the power.   I locked the camper and pretty much forgot about it.   By about Wednesday of that week we noticed that Oscar was not around.    We called for him, left food out, cruised the local streets looking for a body to no avail.   For weeks I walked into the woods behind the house and called.   I whistled for him morning and night, and after about six weeks figured he was gone for good.   Then, one morning very early we both awoke to an alarm sound.   I don't know how we woke up, as it was very faint.   Then it hit me, it was the smoke alarm in the camper.    I pulled on a minimum of clothes, found the camper keys and a flashlight and ran full speed out the door.   I popped into the camper and found the smoke alarm sounding and Oscar sitting on the couch.....small, skinny and hungry.   He had spent an honest six weeks with no food and no water.   Two little dried out cat-turds and two little yellow spots on the bathroom floor and then he was empty.    Whatever would posses a non-social cat to walk into an open camper is beyond me.   But, he did, and he survived.    He stood and was petted well and often for days and the sharpness of his emaciated spine actually was uncomfortable on our hands.  He was a rather shrunken cat skin on a very bony frame and it was several weeks till he felt right when we petted him.  But, he is still with us, and he usually spends a night or so away and a night or so here with us.    We often wonder if he has another family convinced that he needs cat food, too.  He would have made a great house cat, too bad we didn't meet him sooner.   

This brings me to Millie, the small, squeaky cat.   Late last winter she showed up, walking side by side with Oscar when we brought his food out.   He tolerated her very well.  She limped badly and was just a little spot of a cat.   Eventually, we were able to pick her up and look at her foot but found nothing.  One day, her basic architecture began to change and within a couple of weeks she was about as wide as she was long.    All in due time she brought us all four of her new kittens.   

We had never had new kittens here at home and it was overall a good experience.   The wonder of babies extends past just grandchildren, and includes baby cats.  One was a steel gray female with blue eyes. One was a striped tabby like Millie.  One was pure black and smaller than the others and the last was a striped gray and fuzzy female.  All of them were beautiful and eventually all went to new homes.   

Millie is now an inside cat, creatively re-plumbed by the Vet to eliminate any further chance of kittens here.  It turns out that her limp was caused by a bullet wound and the x-rays show fragments still remaining in the tissues.  She loves to play and chases the big boys through the house at full speed, on three working feet.   They all seem to enjoy the game and after two or three laps they all collapse on the carpet in front of the TV and rest up.   

I'd write more but Gizmo is calling for food, the litter boxes need to be cleaned and refilled and it's time to fill water dishes and open a new bag of Purina.   Who is in charge here?   You have to ask?    

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