What's on my mind.

17 January 2008

My Kitties

(The adventures of TempCat™ being chronicled over at the Whatever has got me thinking about my cats.)

About 12 years ago my brother and his first wife were living in Fort Payne. While there they acquired two cats (Irish and Q-tip) and a dog. Later they lived at my parent's house while the house I now live in was being built and my SIL's DIL left her cat (Tom) with them when she (with the son and their baby) moved to the Seattle area. While living in their house my SIL continued to collect kittens until they reached a total of, I think, nine. Stubby, one of the subsequent six, was found in the yard one day being attacked by their dog. (Very unusual behavior for Scooter.) She's never been very social, I don't know if that had to do with her introduction to the family or not.

Q-tip and Irish started out as indoor only cats. They perfected their mousing skills in Fort Payne but Q-tip, a very young kitten when taken from her mommy, never did quite grasp the finer points of washing. After moving into the new house they became indoor/outdoor cats like Tom. And all the later additions were indoor/outdoor, too, except one who was rescued from a house where she was getting beaten up on by the other cats. (She got out the door once and never returned.)

My SIL had been depressed and hadn't been keeping up with the housework. My brother can be blind to the need for cleaning. Unrelated to the number of cats in the house or the state of the litter box my brother and SIL got divorced. The cat litter got bad. Then the cats stopped using the litter box. Sometimes they were outside, sometimes not. In an effort to make the house livable again my brother kicked all the cats out. Again, unrelated to the cats, he met someone new, fell in love, and moved in with her.

Meanwhile I was going to graduate school and living with my parents. So I started feeding the cats over there. By now, through cats finding new homes and at least one getting run over there were five cats. My bro tried to move one (Spot or No-Spot, I can't remember, one of the The Squirts) to his new place but less than 24 hours later he was back on our parent's deck looking for supper. The Squirt didn't last long, I'm not sure what happened to him.

When I moved into "my" house, the cats followed me, at least at dinner time. Q-tip and Stubby mostly stay around my house (and are they glad the little dogs are gone.). Irish often spends her day at my parent's lurking around the garage, back door, or front porch because there are lots of small spaces that small critters can hide in. Tom hung around at my parent's house most of the time. He'd never really moved to the new(my) house the first time around.

Tom was a troubled kitty. He'd been abandoned by his first owner. Then he settled in with my bro and SIL only to have them move, but only a few hundred yards. And then my SIL left. He just wanted love but didn't know how to accept it. (He'd rub his chin on your hand and then all of a sudden bite you.) He lived in my parent's attic for several months before my Dad chased him out and sealed up the hole. He take to disappearing for several months. Tom would show back up for supper on night skinny and sickly, hang around for a week or two and put back on weight, then disappear again. About a year ago he disappeared before he'd put any weight back on. I don't know for sure but he was about 15 years old.

In addition to Q-tip, Irish, and Stubby I've feed a few stray cats (not the kind that play rock-a-billy) who would hang around for a while then move on, up to 10 raccoons at one time (left over pet food and a water dish makes for a raccoon all-you-can-eat buffet), several possums (did they ever get the short end of the pretty stick!), and some birds.

My three cats have to live outside for now. I'm allergic and, even though I think I'd be ok as long as I kept them off my pillows, I'm nervous about letting them in again. Besides, this way there's no litter box. I feed them every night and they scare the small rodents away. It's a wonderful arrangement, I think. They all seem quite happy and healthy. And I feel bad when it's cold out and I leave them out. They are pretty and sweet and lovable and sometimes very silly. So, while I wouldn't get another cat (except as a stray who stays) I'm glad I have them.

p.s.- pictures can be found in just about any post with the "kitties" tag.

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