Cat-atonic state of being

We’ve an excellent group of mousers this year.

So it’s well after 1:30 AM and I’ve finally arrived home from work; I’m tired and my shoulder aches and I can’t wait until I can get some warmth on it to ease the pain. So what happens? I have to try and park my car in the dark of near-pitch-blackness of the country–we do have a yard lamp post, but that’s really the only light source and NOT run over a bunch of little cats eyeballing prey…One of the July 4th grays–actually, one of Oliver’s protegees caught something and was making a meal of it, refusing to move. If you’ve never witnessed this event first hand, it’s like a group of crocs milling about, snapping and hissing at who’s gonna get the leftovers…and trust me, there’s never any left overs. Herding cats ain’t fun on a good day…but in the dark, it down-right SUCKS.

But I eventually get my car parked in it’s spot, I call out a hello to Gimpy, who was nearby and then head toward the door to my house, eagerly awaiting the warmth of a heating pad on my shoulder and a cup of sleepy-time tea. And then, I hear it: Tiny. Helpless. Mewling. I felt my shoulders fall and my head hang down. I sighed and cussed out loud: Dammit. I must be a friggin’ crazy cat ladyYou know the type…the ones everyone pokes fun at…

I think I spent about a good three-quarters of an hour by flashlight trying to figure out where to hold up two tiny itty-bitties (kittens–about 4 weeks old, I’m guessing), so that they’d stay warm. Ms Jane (the Mamma) is nowhere to be found –probably in our basement (cats can come and go at will  via “cat doors”); but I’m guessing again though. She won’t bring them in–can’t say as I blame her though, she’s lost at least 6 kittens this spring (two to dogs, and four abandoned fosters (that I found a little too late a few days after). The smaller one was already shivering, so I placed them both at the communal feeding area to eat and when they were done, I put them both in a barn stall where the Jane once them nested;  but apparently they weren’t having anything to do with that and they jetted right under my feet and out the stall door before I could even get close enough to shut it. Our horses, by the way, prefer to stay outside, so don’t worry about anyone getting trampled whilst in the barn.

I realized that Oliver (he’s such an awesome boy!) was actually sticking pretty close by–not sure if it was because I was making such a fuss over them, or what, but he stuck around and was checking them out, but then got distracted by one of the other teenagers finding a hidy-hole between the stalls and went to investigate. Older sister, Boo Kitty has baby sat them before, but didn’t seem interested in helping out tonight. Smokey, one of the other Queens was nearby and kept going up to them, chirping and sniffing, then getting irate because they’re not hers. She’s usually pretty good about fostering, but not these two.

I don’t DARE bring them in and place them in a soft, kitten-blankie-lined vari-kennel…my husband would kill me (ok yeah, he has to catch me first, but he can certainly vocalize his disdain–even at a distance–and that cuts me to the bone),…My track record with releasing “orphans” is less than stellar–it’s why I have six indoor cats instead of just three. And I don’t dare go outside to check on them because if they’re nearby, they’ll haul their little kitty-butts over in my direction…and it’s because I’ve had to “save” them before. I just have to trust that our colony is actually going to come together and bring these two littles into the fold, like I’ve seen them do with countless others…like they did with Oliver, Gimpy, Wally and Boo Kitty. These cats are SMART and they understand that there is safety in numbers: I am praying that Oliver will forgo his usual solitary sleep-state and watch over them.

It’s going to be a long, LONG night.

  • Oliver! (ladyrowann.wordpress.com)
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Oliver!

Oliver's Baby Picture

Gonna tell ya a little story about a little Tom Cat by the name of Oliver.

Oliver was born in late March of 2013, probably in our basement where it is still somewhat warm down there from the furnace running, to my favorite barn cat-Queen, Lil Gurl.  The first time I saw him, he was so itty-bitty…eyes closed, ears folded down, and he was quiet, unnaturally so…Like he instinctively knew: “the dogs will get me”. It would be a few weeks before I’d see him again. His mother had placed him beneath the stairs, behind some boxes. The dogs continually sniffed the area one evening, I finally figured out why. I watched Lil Gurl, hiss, spit and swat at the dogs when they got too close. Filled with adrenalin, I actually grabbed one the of the dogs by the scruff and literally carried him to the yard. I knew then, that I had to relocate Lil Gurl and her baby to keep them both safe.

I started moving boxes and finally uncovered her nest, where she kept the baby cat. Lil Gurl watched trustingly. I reached in and gently picked up the tiny thing. His eyes were open and he only stared at me; he didn’t hiss, or spit. Most of her kittens are like that…they inherit her demeanor, fortunately. I placed him on top of the chest freezer, across from the stairs, her eyes watching me the entire time. She jumped up on the upright freezer and looked down at him and meowed at me. And then she chirped. It was then that Oliver (who was just “Baby Cat” then) started screaming his little head off, so yes…he had a voice and knew how to use it!  She tiptoed the four and a half-foot tall wall that stands between the freezers and the oil tank, and jumped up on the duct work and chirped again and then, meowed to me: she wanted me to hand him up to her. The duct work is over six-feet up in the air–no way for me to safely reach. So I ran upstairs and retrieved my little step stool and then climbed up on it. I couldn’t see her, but I knew she was up there. Grabbing Oliver, I reached up and placed him on the cold duct work…he didn’t like it. She grabbed his scruff and pulled him toward an inset-cubby hole in the wall where they would be safe. But there is an eight inch gap between the duct work and the wall. She struggled with his weight  and he fell through the air. I tried to catch him, but he slipped through my fingers like he was water. It felt like playing “hot potato” when I was a kid, I just couldn’t hang on, and I prayed that I could at least break up the impact of the fall. I was horrified when he hit the cement floor. He was a little over two feet away from where I was standing and I reached down and picked him up and held him close to me, hoping he survived.  I pulled him away from my chest and looked hard at him…He looked at me and blinked his eyes; he was definitely alive and quite shaken from the experience.  I kept him held snug against me as I searched the basement for something higher to stand on and when I found a heavy tote, I dusted him off, gave him a kiss and I reunited him with his mother. She grabbed his scruff again and carried him to the very far corner of the cubby.

After that, I checked on them daily. Sometimes Lil Gurl would be there, sometimes not. When he was alone, he was always awake and he’d look up and silently meow, but he wouldn’t move from his spot.

Then one day in late April, they weren’t there. And I didn’t see them for days. Finally, she brought him out to meet the rest of the colony…he’d gotten so big!  He played with the other kittens and played hide and seek with me, pretending to be fearless and fearsome. I desperately need money to get him neutered. There are programs in the area where they’ll neuter a male, but they’ll dock an ear. I don’t want his ear docked; I don’t care what they say, it’s been my experience that the docked ear is slow to heal and yes, it bothers them…He’s still at that age where he does stupid things, like sitting too close to the fence tauntingly, when a certain dog is in the yard….and running fearlessly up to a client with a reactive dog to say HI! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dive bombed a cat to keep it away from a canine who’d love nothing more than to pay with a live-squeaky toy….Fortunately, he’s actually too big to eat now. And he stays mostly alone, especially when he sleeps. I guess he likes it that way…He’s turning out to be just like our former Head-Boy Barn cat, Tigger who lived to be well over 10–a very long life for a barn cat. Tigger made it inside to pass away…he trusted and loved us that much. I prayed long and hard for another cat like Tigger…and now, we may have another Head-Boy Barn Cat in Oliver.

Oliver, September 2013

Oliver, September 2013

You’re probably wondering why I don’t TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release)? It’s because the barn cats we care for actually WORK here. They keep the rodent population down. Mice are the biggest carriers of the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. My husband is still fighting his second bout of it…the first time, it almost killed him. So yeah, I’m a little fanatical about keeping my barn cats in tact…but this one, he’s special. And while he does some stupid things now, I’ve watched him hunt…his mother taught him well and he’s begun schooling the other younger kittens. If he can make through the winter, he’s a keeper…and to do that and keep him from roaming, he’ll need to be snipped.

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