Monday, February 13, 2006

A Rather Long Post About Cats

If any of you have recently checked out my seestor's blog, you would see that she gave me rather lovely birthday tribute. Thank you, deeeer seestor, for that. It was a pleasant surprise.

Other than that wonderful gift, you are probably all wondering "What does someone like Mz. Qintessence do on her birthday?" Well...let me tell you...

I painted my living room.

Ok, it's not that bad - I actually wanted to paint my living room for my birthday. When hubby asked what I wanted as my present I said "Paint for the living room." And so, my birthday wish was fulfilled. I'm not quite finished with the project yet as it involves a kind of Basse danse of furniture and drop cloths. Hopefully by the end of the week...

Also, we went out for dinner and a movie. Awwwwwww........

At any rate...

Ok, it would seem as though I have some questions to answer regarding an indordinately large amount of expired felines that were, at one time or another, under my care.

It's true. I am a killer of cats.


These were all accidental.

I know, you're probably thinking "Sure they are. One accident, maybe, but..."

No! It's true! I swear. I like cats. I really do. I would even go so far as to say I love certain cats. And this, you see, is where the problem stems from.

I like cats to the point of taking them in and trying to give them a good home. Maybe not necessarily inside my house, but a good home nonetheless. Over the years I've let me get my abacus...approximately 26.75 cats. Not all at one time, mind you. It's been over a span of 15 years.

So, you can see, when working with such a population, there are bound to be a few...accidents.

Our first cat, Zagnut, was a shelter cat. We got her when we found a mouse in our house. Our kids were still toddlers and, given the propensity for disater in my family, I didn't want to put out poison or traps. So, what's the next best thing? A cat, of course.

We picked her out at the local shelter because she looked pretty lively.

Yes. Well, she certainly was at that.

She was lively to the point of killing everything in the neighborhood. At that time, we lived in a row house. I remember my neighbor telling me that the neighbor next to him was getting a little upset because she liked to feed the birds and, well, I guess her yard was like Game Lands for Zagnut. One day, I was going out into the yard to hang laundry. The bird lady was visitng with the middle neighbor and they were sitting on his back porch. I stopped to chat awhile and, wouldn't you know, that's when Zagnut appeared with a rather large bird in her mouth. She stood on the wall between our porches, commanding everyone's attention, and then gracefully leaped down onto my neighbor's porch and trotted by the bird lady. I was mortified.

Eventually, Zagnut began to stalk bigger game, namely us. She would lie in wait in the dining room and when I had to dash through say, to check something in the oven, she would leap out at me, grab my legs and bite me, and then take off wildly out of the room.

Even though she tried to kill us on a regular basis, we loved our Zagnut. Unfortunately, she was too good of a hunter for the neighbors and we eventually put her into foster care with my sister. Zagnut settled happily in with her family, stalking them, until one day when she disappeared into the streets of Philadelphia. I have no doubt that she is now involved in some savage crime ring in the city.

Our next group of cats arrived after we moved into our present house. Again, it was a mouse issue that started the whole thing off. This time, I decided I would keep my eye out for a Siamese cat. Hubby and I both grew up with a Saimese. Siameses. Siami?
Anyway, I found an ad in the Allentown paper for a pair of 1 year old Siamese cats. Jackpot.

We went to a small apartment occupied by a young hippy-ish couple and came home with Simon and Simone. Who immediately got down to business and had a litter of kittens a few shorts months later.

Kittens I did not want. Fortunately, I was able to find homes for all 4 kittens. Also fortunately, I was able to make an appointment with the vet to get Simone spayed.

Unfortunately, no one told me that cats immediately go into heat again after they give birth.

Litter of Kittens - take 2.

This time, Simone had her kittens in one of the rooms upstairs. We tried to keep them contained to a bedroom and were doing pretty well with it until that one fateful evening (of course these things always happen after the vet's office is closed) when I was in the kitchen and heard a dull whap! in the hallway. As it turns out, one of the kittens wandered out of the room and slipped through the railing of the steps and down he went.

We named him Freefall.

This is the kitten I did mouth-to-muzzle resuscitation on. He wasn't doing too well and I spent that night with the little guy sleeping on my chest. (My husband has since tried to squeeze through the railing as well but no dice.) The next day I took him to the vet's office. The vet gave him a looksie and shot and said he should be fine. I really didn't want to go into work that afternoon but, alas, an injured kitten would not fly as an excuse. When I came home, Freefall was gone. As in dead.

I dreaded breaking the news to my kids because we had all been pulling for little Freefall. Finally, I couldn't avoid it any longer and I told them.

Me: Listen you two, I have some bad news. Freefall didn't make it.
Kids: blank stare
Me: So, um...we're going to have to bury him.
Kids: blank stare

And then finally...

Son: Couldn't we make a stew with him or something?

We did keep one of the kittens from this litter. Hugo lived with us for a few years until, again, one fateful evening...
This was just a few days after my father died so, you'll have to forgive us, we weren't really thinking clearly. We were all getting ready for something or other - I can't even remember anymore - and I had some clothes in our then malfunctioning dryer. The problem with the dryer was that you had to run it for a cycle - during which the clothes wouldn't really dry - and then let it cool for a bit and then run it again. And, of course, the quickest way to cool the dryer is to let the door open. And, of course, cats like to crawl into dark, warm places.

I think you can all see where this is going so I'll spare you the details.

Suffice it to say, Hugo was definitely dry-clean only.

It was somewhere in this whole mix that my daughter - the lovely little imp - tried to pet some wild kittens after soccer practice one day. She got close enough to get bitten and then to watch the kittens scamper off into the woods, leaving us to wonder "Just when do we start the rabies shots?"

As it turns out, you start them within 10 days. Because, you know, you can't take your kids anywhere when they are frothing at the mouth.

In hopes of avoiding RABIES SHOTS!!!, I borrowed a trap from the local animal shelter and tried to catch the kittens. The first night, I caught the mom. I didn't know what to do with her so I brought her home and put her in our chicken pen. From which she promptly escaped. Well.

The next morning, I checked my trap (at least once every 24 hours like a good trapper should) to find a little white kitten with gray spots. Bingo! For my daughter said it was a white kitten that bit her. I proudly brought the trap and kitten home, knowing I could now spare my daughter that fate that every child fears - "Don't touch that cat! It might have rabies! Then you'll have to get RABIES SHOTS!!!" dum, dum dum...

So I show her the kitten and she tells me "There were two white ones. I'm not sure if this is the one."

Sigh. Back to the woods.

The next night I caught a possum. Opossum. Which, for some reason, started a thing in our family where we say "Possum, possum, O! possum!"

Anyway... it was becoming uncomfortably close to the 10 day mark so I finally had to take dear daughter for her rabies shots. As it turns out, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. No shots in the stomach any more. Now it's just a shot in the butt, one in each arm, and a great big one to the wallet. Because for some reason, Blue Cross & Blue Shield don't consider a pre-emptive strike on a disease that will most certainly kill you in a rather uncomfortable way something worth covering. Go figure.

And, wouldn't you know, the next morning the two remaining kittens were in the trap.

So that is how we got Ed, Rascal and Fang. Go ahead and guess which one bit her.

Since they were so young, I couldn't get a vet to spay or neuter them right away. And since I was concurrently dealing with the Siamese plague in my house, I decided that the wild kittens could, indeed, stay wild. I took them for their shots and figured I would feed them - thusly winning their trust - and would then take them to get fixed when they were old enough.

As it turns out, Fang was the only one willing to give her heart in exchange for food. Ed turned out to be a huge cat, quite capable of taking down cows at the neighboring farms and, while he would let us pet him, there was no way you could pick him up and get him into a cat carrier.

Rascal - the little hussy - was super wary and even more prolific. I did eventually catch her, but not until she added another 2 litters of kittens to the population.

She was also very crafty at hiding her kittens, assuring that we wouldn't find them until they were quite mobile and just as wary as she. It took a lot of time - and a lot of dollars - but I eventually caught all of her offspring and managed to get them fixed. Not wanting to dump them all on the local shelter, we decided to keep them as our farm cats. They always had a building to sleep in and plenty of food, and still had the joy of being a wild cat. It almost brings a tear to the eye...

And let me tell you, nothing brings tears to the eye like getting a cat fixed and finding it several weeks later, run over by a car. Because that's what invariably happens. Either that or you accidentaly close a car door on their head. Because that happens too. At least to me.

So, after what we now refer to as the "dryer incident", we got two more inside cats from the local SPCA - Fred and Sonya. Fred is a great, big bray cat with very yellow eyes and he is evil personified. Catified. Whatever. Sonya is a dainty calico whom we refer to as the silent film star due to her habit of making meowing motions at you with no sound attached.

Here they are...

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Miss Sonya


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The Evil Fred.

And two of our, six I think...outside cats.

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Fang and Oddball

By the way, when I mentioned we had 26.75 cats, Fang is the 0.75. She is the 3 legged cat, a result, I think, of either a fight with another animal or a fight with a trap.

And last, and least in a way - size wise, anyway - is Victor, our 3rd inside cat. He was really supposed to be an outside cat but he's just so darn little and so darn cute that we took him in. Too bad we didn't know before hand what a little bastard he would turn out to be.

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Victor the Little Black Bastard - all dressed up and no place to go

So you see, dear readers, that while I must admit some felines have met an untimely demise at my hands, it was never on purpose. And, when you average it out, hopefully I've done less harm than good.



Cuz E said...

Dearest A,

The following is a very long response.

Happy Birthday, I know I am late but I was moving and then had Mr. AND Mrs. Uncle E visiting and moving about non-stop. They just departed this moring.

Power is down at the farm. Our Extremely parttime caretake took a ride over this weekend past and found the power out, the fridge stinking to high heaven (in spite of it being colder in the house then outside). The good news is that the pipes weren't frozen (yet).

Will be starting an off-broadway play running end of March through beginning of May which will be a must for you to bring your daughter in to see. Call or write for details.

Although your cat post was long and entertaining it was not as long as it should have been. You left off one of my ALL TIME favorite stories of yours "the cat in the bag" you must do a follow up....also the "baby power and the stairs"

and now on with the pesky questions.
Four Jobs I've Had

1. Sheetrock flipper at Alliance Wall corp. in Port Carbon. The entire job for 60hours a week consisted of me and another guy sliding sheetrock from one pallet to another and then flipping over the next sheet so they were all face up to go through the glue machine. It was the slowest time has ever moved. I suggest If you are given one week to live you immediately apply at alliance wall corp for job of sheet rock flipper.

2. Bass player on Cruise ship (2x) first run Miani-Grand Camen-Cozumel-Jamaica, second run Dover-Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Helsinki-Stockholm-St. Petersburg-Oslo and back.

3.Composer for Daytime TV Show

4. Freelance Musician, tour, record, teach etc.

Four movies to watch over and over
1. Monty Python & the Holy Grail
2. Monty Python's the meaning of life
3. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
4. La Strada

Four Places I've Lived
New Boston, PA; Boston, MA: Brooklyn, NY on a Cruise Ship

Four TV Shows I Love
Bewitched, 24 (I know every season is the same but we can't turn it off), Seinfeld, I'll go with Bugs and the Gang as well.

Four Vacation Spots
1. Along the Dordogne river in France Visiting St. Emilion, Bordeaux, Bergerac, Sarlat and most amazing of all Rocamadour
2. Lisbon and the Algarve
3.Maderia we self booked a driving and hiking tour of the entire Island. I'd Love to go back.
4. The Wife and I just had a lovely time in Barbados

My Four Favorite Dishes
1.tom-yum-guy soup
2. Pad thai
3. anything Mexican
4. Jerk chicken with Bread fruit

Four Websites I Visit Daily
1. yahoo 2. Google 3-4 your and your Seestor's blogs, (so post more)

Four Places I'd Rather Be
1. LA is where I'd rather be living, other than that, My life is good as it is-we have heat and food here and the computers seem to be working fine.

I know That TC reads this and would like to see his response. So I tag him 3 times, and your husband once. I nominate him for the person who I'd most like to see start a blog

Jozet said...

Oh, Zagnut!

Yes, I remember when Leah came by once with Nora - Nora was about 5 yo at the time - and Zagnut stalked her through the house and eventually leapt out or down or across at her like a lion after and antelope, stretched out full length across the air, and then sinking her teeth into Nora's leg.

She also batted me in the face a few times.

She was a dangerous animal, and I remember with nothing but overwhelming fondness.

I'm sure she works for the Siamese cat fish-head mob in South Philly.

anne said...

cuz e-

Glad to see you're up and connected again.
Crapola about the power at the farm. On the bright side, gotta love that hot air heat! Otherwise you might have a real mess on your hands.
I was almost going to ad the "bag o'cats story" but, seeing as none of them actually died in that incident, I figured I'd save it for another time. Likewise with the baby powder thing. But, you're right, they are entertaining and I will have to ad them at some point.

I will try to send you an email today to check in on other items.

Oh, and on the hubby starting a blog...I've tried to convince him but I can't really see him taking the time to do it. He said that if he did, he would call it Conspirator's Weekly and devote it to all the various conspiracy theories he has. Starting with Craker Barrel. Don't even ask.

I remember when we first brought Zagnut home and she clawed her way up Marc's bocy for a piece of salami when he was making a sandwich. We should have known then...

D.B. Echo said...


Sorry. That's a huge fear of mine, with four (soon to be three) cats in the house.

nadzent said...

Happy Birthday Anne! I am so sorry for not sending birthday wishes sooner. As Cuz E said - we had no internet right before/during/after our move. But we are up and running now and have no excuses.

I love the cat in the bag story...

BTW - I had no idea my husband liked Bewitched. I have never seen him watch a single episode. Perhaps it is something he does when he is alone at the dark...

Gunny said...

The cats ..... Anything bit the cats.....
I feel for you I really do you should put these in a book and sell them as short stories, they are just so funny, speaking of cats, my cat/dog, bill Yes I named my cat bill after the comic strip "Bloom County" of course bill looks nothing like bill from the comic strip, that "Bill" being orange, and mine looking more like a miniature black bear, but he's mine and thats his name, now he's a cat/dog because he likes to play fetch. We found this out one day shortly after we brought him home from the shelter, well actually a couple months later. The wife was sitting on the bed and bill jumps up because she was sitting on "his" spot. he spits out this yarn fuzz ball that was on the top of one of the kids winter hats, the wife semi freaks and picks it up { yuck nasty soggy} and tosses it off the bed, which makes bill to meow as if saying, hey, thats my toy and jumps off the bed, picks it up and brings it back, spits it out in the wifes lap, repeat of the first part, well the next time the wife didnt throw it and bill jumps up, puts his paws on her arm and starts to meow louder than ever, as if he was telling her, hey, lady, bringer of kitty food and fresh litter, toss the damn fuzz ball ! so now it's his ritual before bed, spit the fuzz ball at the wife and play fetch. not as cute as yours, but funny just the same. Really though, do the book !

anne said...

Yes, the dryer... Believe me, I have developed a big new phobia about this.

I'm glad to see you're back up on the net again. And yes, I will do the bag o' cats story soon. I still wish I would have taken pictures. Or video.

It's amazing how some cats act like dogs. Evil Fred acts just like a dog a lot of times.
Here's a little game your cat/dog and you wife might like. You have to look for one of those tiny folding fishing rods - I think they are called Picket Fisherman - and then you get something your cat really likes. We used a little piece of rabbit fur. You'll also need some kind of weight - ours came with a rubber thing. You attach it to the line and then you can cast it down your hallway or, perhaps, over the curtain rod, and fish with your cat. We call it cat fishing - no originality there.