Saturday, June 03, 2017

Confessions of a reluctant cat lady

Throughout my teenage years, I loved cats and sneaked them in the house while my parents were both at work.  This made for a few unpleasant moments, like when my mom started getting flea-bites on her ankles.  And the time my cat had kittens on a basket of clean laundry in a closet.  Not to mention the time Mother discovered a cat had been using the corner of a closet as a litter-box.

While I've had wonderful cats around the barn for years, I lost my earlier love for them, thanks in part to Cliff's attitude that had rubbed off on me: he hates cat hair, cat poop, and all the other side effects of keeping feline companions.  We both respected them for keeping the mouse population down in the barn, and there have even been a couple mother cats over the years that I can truthfully say I loved, as long as they were "over there".  I didn't pet them or try to keep them tame, since I didn't want them on my doorstep, or climbing on window screens ruining them.

A time came in the summer of 2011 when we were cat-free.  I was fine with that.  Then some neighbors suddenly had to move and didn't have the option of taking a cat with them.  They'd been gone perhaps a month when the mostly white female cat started moving new-born kittens over here into the lean-to of our barn.  I didn't intend to make them welcome, but the half-starved mother was so polite, and not pushy at all, that I decided to do the humane thing and feed her, taking great care not to pet her and her brood, lest they all end up underfoot.  
That yellow boy masquerading as Mom's tail is Jake.  He's still around.  When this litter was big enough, we packed up Jake, Mama Kitty, and one calico female and took them to the vet to be neutered.  The calico female later got stepped on by a horse, and Cliff put her out of her misery.  I don't recall exactly what became of the others.  

From the time she moved here, Mama Kitty began going with us on our daily walk.  This amazed me, since we were walking for 45 minutes every day, and that had to be a lot of steps for a small cat.  We'd go outside to walk and she'd be waiting for us.  

OK, I confess, at this point I was starting to get attached to this quiet, unassuming cat.  I still didn't usually pet her though.

Mama Kitty was a great mother.  I was amazed at how she taught her babies to hunt.  Click HERE to see an entry about that.

Cliff and I stopped walking when our aging knees and hips said "no more".  At some point after that, a couple of years ago, Mama Kitty disappeared for so long, I gave her up for dead.  I was amazed when she finally showed up as though nothing had happened.  

It got to the point where she would do this disappearing act pretty often.  Especially if we went someplace for a couple of days.  It was as though she was protesting our travels.  Even this year, when I went to Mexico for five days, I got home to find Mama Kitty had disappeared once again.  In a day or two she showed up, no worse for the wear.  Mighty peculiar, because Cliff was home all the time I was gone.  

So I decided to start paying more attention to her.  It wasn't hard, since I don't have milk cows, chickens, or dogs, these days.  I began petting her often when she was hanging around close by, and even began picking her up occasionally and letting her sit on my lap (I don't like cat hair on my clothes, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep a good cat around).  I started giving her a tablespoon full of cream each morning.  Although she doesn't always drink it all, she shows up asking for it anyway, and politely licks at it a time or two.  She won't touch it if Jake or Buttons is around, though.  

Unlike her loud and rowdy son, Mama Kitty is very quiet.  She will meow politely when I talk to her, but it's at such a low sound level I have to listen closely to hear it.  

When I go out each morning to watch the sunrise, she joins me.  Sometimes she rolls over on her back, begging for a tummy-rub.  These days, she gets one.  

Jake has never been shy about begging for a tummy rub, but he never actually got one until lately, since I've been put under the spell of the resident felines.  This cat is a yowling, vocal mess.  He seldom shuts up.  

Buttons, the youngster of the group, has always been a love-bug, when he isn't trying to kill my hummingbirds.  

So there you have it.  Never again will I fail to show my appreciation for a good cat, so long as they don't insist on moving inside with me.  

Be kind to your cat.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I had several cats over the years and they were all indoor cats. I loved having their companionship. Now due to old age they are gone so I loved seeing yours! The picture of the youngster with the hummers is priceless !

Adirondackcountrygal said...

I am very fond of cats. When I was a little girl we had a big black and white tom named Luggy (short for Lug Nuts), quite sure my father named him..
I have had various cats but not as many as when I moved here. All the stray females seem to have kittens under our house and we feel sorry for them and adopt them. We let them outside now and then, against park rules. We have had a couple disappear and never come back, and some leave and then come back.

Jon said...

I loved this post and, of course, you know how fond I am of cats. It seems to run in my family. My mother liked cats and so did my grandmother.

Cats are extremely smart and can be unbelievably affectionate, if given half the chance. They crave the Luv.
My three cats are, admittedly, a helluva lot of trouble to care for - but they are extremely entertaining and I wouldn't be without them. I keep them in the house (holy crap) but let them out on the back porch for fresh air and sunshine.

I definitely don't like the cat hair...or cleaning the litter boxes half a dozen times a day. And the scratching can be unnerving - but I'd never get them declawed.
I have lots of mice out here in the boonies and my cats are great at catching them.
My old cat Scratch just got four mice this past week.

Well, I didn't intend for this comment to be so long.
BTW - the photo of your Mama cat is beautiful!

Margaret said...

I didn't think I liked cats; I believed myself to be a dog person. But then Mari moved in with me, and she is a great companion--unassuming, but affectionate. Clean. Not needy, but obviously very attached to me. It is therapeutic for ME to pet her, and hear her purr or "talk" to me. Did you know that cats don't meow to other cats, only to humans? They are trying to communicate and bond!

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Isn't it amazing the way some animals can worm their way onto your heart, even when you don't want them to? We have been blessed to have had several excellent outside mousers over the years and two I truly loved. We had one when Hannah was a toddler that stayed with that baby from the moment she went out until she came in. Pete took it to the deer camp with him to do some mousing there, and accidentally found out it would track a deer!


i love kitty cats too. yours are sweet indeed.

Olka said...

They're so adorable! I also have a cats, I can't even imagine live without any cat. I live with cats since I remember, my grandma and mom are cat lovers so they taught me how to take care of them :) And now I love to help animals, I give a financial help for some of them, all my cats are rescued from the street and adopted :) And they're my real friends!