Moms are like that, aren't they? They love us no matter how we turn out.
|Hissy Cat and Pretty Kitty|
by Marilyn Mackenzie
We were dog people. My dad never liked cats. He had a few stories to tell about why that was so, but the one that always came to mind first was about a dinner party mom and dad attended.
When they arrived at the house, they noticed the cat sitting on the kitchen counter. That was one reason dad didn't like cats. One never knew where they would end up. Dogs usually kept their feet on the ground.
This cat wasn't content with just sitting on the counter. The cat had to sample the dinner waiting to be served – chicken. Upon discovering the cat devouring dinner, the host shoved the cat out of the way and tried to salvage as much of the chicken as she could. Dad really never liked cats after that encounter. He never liked eating chicken after that either.
Dog people were we because dad was the ruler of the home and he preferred dogs to cats. So, even as an adult, I continued choosing dogs as pets. Perhaps that’s why when we had ducks that daddy duck decided to copy our dogs’ behaviors. Maybe he thought he had a better chance of staying with us if he could prove he was a dog. (See "Daddy Guard Duck & the Rest of the Gang" )
We lived in the country, with an acre of land and a barn. I loved that property. The lots were pie-shaped and the homes were on the front of the properties. On the cul-de-sac, our homes were rather close, giving us the opportunity to be good neighbors. But our backyards fanned out and behind us was a commercial orange grove. Our backyards were all fenced (most neighbors had dogs too), so there we had the illusion that our yard went on forever, and that we were alone out in the country.
One day, my son heard “something” in the barn. My first thought was that the kids had been telling each other too many spooky stories. But as I listened with him, I heard something too. We discovered a mommy cat had taken up residence in the rafters over the apartment in our barn. She was a wild cat, though. Pretty scrawny she was. And she hissed when we tried to get near. We learned why later. Mamma cat had given birth to two kittens. We left food for her so she could try to nurse those kittens. But I worried about all of them.
As soon as mamma cat thought she could leave, she did. But not before depositing her two kittens underneath our mobile home. She wanted them to be closer to us, I guess. She allowed us to adopt her family and off she went, never to be seen again. Those kittens, even as what should have been little, adorable bundles of fur, were just as mean as their mamma. They wanted us to feed them, of course. But even the sound of our voices would make them hiss at us. What they wanted was for us to leave food close to the hole in our mobile home skirting and then take off. They had no use for humans, other than as a source of food.
Those two kitties became cats, of course. And they stayed with us. One would have thought they might take up residence in the barn, since that’s where life began for them. Not so. They did abandon the home they had as small kittens underneath our house. But we really had no idea where they slept during the day or at night.
I've written about "Spike The Wonder Dog" before. He was my part-poodle/part-terrier bundle of fur and muscle who thought he could conquer the world. (He did, after all, attack vacuum cleaners and riding mowers!) But Spike had a soft side as well. Each morning, Spike the Wonder Dog sat on the porch with me as I studied God’s word and fed the birds and squirrels. After our “coffee time” Spike became a regular dog again chasing those same birds and squirrels.
If I lingered outside after sending Spike off to be a regular dog and to watch his puppy charges, I noticed that those two wild cats would show up on the porch. They'd meow at me and ask for food. I started calling them Hissy Cat and Pretty Kitty. Hissy Cat looked just like her mamma – scrawny and mean. It appeared she had not learned to groom herself like cats normally do. She would eat and then look up and hiss at me, eat and hiss.
Pretty Kitty was, well, prettier. She had different markings and she did spend her days in the middle of the yard, allowing the sun to beat on her as she licked and groomed, licked and groomed. She hissed at me too, but something told me that if I was ever to make friends with either of these wild cats, it would be with Pretty Kitty.
After Spike’s coffee time, I made sure there was time left over for the cats. Each day, I brought their bowls of food closer and closer to me. I talked with the cats too. Hissy Cat’s only response was to hiss. Pretty Kitty, though, seemed to be listening.
One day I dressed in long pants and long sleeves and heavy work gloves and set out to see if I could get close to the cats. Not surprisingly, Hissy Cat hissed and took off running. But Pretty Cat determined that being stroked, even with those heavy work gloves on, wasn't all that unpleasant. For the first time, she purred, and I think she even surprised herself. As time went by, she allowed me to pet her, and if she let her guard down, would even allow me to hold her for a minute or two.
Both cats, remained wild, though. There was no way I could get close enough to them to capture them and take them to the veterinarian’s office for shots and making sure there wouldn't be any more kittens running around.
As luck would have it, Hissy Cat and Pretty Kitty became pregnant together and had their kittens within hours of each other – on the roof! Although we had never known where the cats slept, we never dreamed they were sleeping on the roof! I guess it made sense, though. Our dogs couldn't climb up there to disturb them.
We couldn't allow those pitiful meowing kittens to fall of the roof, so we got the stepladder and retrieved them. We couldn't tell which kittens belonged to which cat, but they knew. We made a soft bed in a box and placed the kittens there. Hours later, all the kittens were back on the roof.
We retrieved them again and placed them in the box. The cats took them back to the roof. Finally, we took the box into the house, figuring we might have to bottle feed those kittens rather than have them falling from the roof.
Pretty Kitty decided she would brave coming into the house to feed all the kittens, as long as no dogs were in evidence. She'd run quickly to the closet where we'd placed the kittens, allow them to nurse for about ten minutes then run to the front door again. She didn't try to take the kittens with her. Perhaps she'd learned that these humans could be trusted to help.
The time Pretty Kitty spent with the kittens wasn't enough to help them grow and thrive. So, one of our precious dogs, barely out of puppyhood herself, decided she would help. Sox, a mixture of our Spike the Wonder Dog and Pebbles (a Shih Tzu), produced milk and nursed those kittens as if they were her own. How surprised she was when they ended up being kittens with claws and not soft, cuddly puppies just like her. But she continued to love them in spite of that fact, as any mother would.
Moms are like that, aren't they? They love us no matter how we turn out.
And now, you've met a few more of the animal menagerie we had in our cute little home in the woods - Spike the Wonder Dog, Daddy Guard Duck, Hissy Cat and Pretty Kitty, and precious and wonderful mamma Sox. Just what might come next? Perhaps a story about the baby squirrels we raised. Another story for another time.