First of all let me give you some background for this event. Shortly after I moved here in November 2008, there was a stray mixed breed hound dog that I came across in the County maintained dead end dirt road behind our property. The dog was obviously starved and homeless. I returned home, and grabbed a blanket and some food with the goal of catching the dog and calling Animal Control. I returned to the road to find the little dog rolled up in a ball, shivering. But when I tried to wrap the dog in the blanket and lift him, he growled. The temperatures plummeted that night. I never saw the dog again. Not knowing anyone to help me I was at a loss how to entice the dog from the secluded area. An ad in the local lost and found section of the paper described this dog and where he was last seen. But that ad came weeks after my encounter. I vowed this would never happen again. Next time a stray wandered near our wooded property I’d do whatever it took to save the animal.
Nineteen months later, while walking with the dogs in our fenced pasture, I heard a healthy meow from the same dirt road. Sure enough there was a beautiful young cat, with long hair, white with a shawl of tan, brown and gold. I carefully opened the fence gate, making sure my Border Collies would not get loose. They were watching the cat, wagging their tails in delight. The imaginary bubble above their heads read, “Cat, the other white meal!! Cool. It’s gonna be a great day!”
The kitty was affectionate, purring loudly and meowing like a Siamese cat. The next morning we had the same greeting, only this time I brought her some food. Things were progressing nicely. Kitty discovered the neighbor’s porch which she slept under, mooching even more food, while having the freedom to roam the woods during the day. Two problems surfaced which made it important that a decision on her fate had to be made. My dogs were eagerly running and barking along the fence, licking their chops and staring at the cat, which sat primly on the neighbor’s porch. Two fences kept her safe. Bill, the neighbor whose porch she was sleeping under, has a Spuds McKenzie type dog and is an animal lover but mostly just loves birds. For cats, a bird is the other white meat. See the pecking order here? Bill asked my help in finding a solution to this cat problem. He had been feeding her too and said he wasn’t going to any more. The next day the cat was gone. It was only luck that I found her curled up deep in the woods near a wild animal den. She didn’t meow, didn’t move. She looked ready to die. Running inside our house I grabbed some dry dog food, put some milk on it and stole some chicken from the frig. Climbing through the woods, falling over rotting logs, stepping in ant hills, and getting scratched by thorny vines, I was finally able to get to the den and entice the cat to eat.
Why didn’t I just grab the cat the first day and save her? My mom has Alzheimer’s. In her life she has had several cats and has told me many times she wanted another one. But given her health situation was she ready for the responsibility of cat ownership? How could I manage Mom and the cat and dogs and dad with his dementia? Mom and I decided to buy some cat food at Walmart until a decision could be made. That evening I caught the cat and set her up in a dog crate in the laundry room. Then I left for dog class. Upon returning the cat was loose, had eaten everything put down for her, pooped her brains out (in the litter box) and meowed non stop. Okay, this is why I personally have been catless for years! My nose is finely tuned to that poop-in-the-house smell.
Since I’d had a long day of dog training, I went to bed early. At 11:30 pm, the house alarm went off. Mom had let the cat outside, setting off the alarm. Outside is where the dogs were that particular night. Not good. But kitty was sprawled on the deck like it was a cool fall day. I picked her up and brought her inside again.
Within a short period of time the cat has woven her way into our hearts and our lives, even though she is somewhat aloof. The dogs smell her, although they have not met the cat in the house. The crate the cat briefly slept in has been scrubbed. But River curls his lip each time I ask him to step into it. When the cat walks by the crate by mistake he smells the dog and runs. The estimate from the vet for a spay operation, office visit and shots is around $200. Yes, mom. Gone are the days of $20 office visits. Pet ownership is expensive, whether you own a bird, cat, dog or horse.