Buster Kitten in the Wild

Buster Kitten was about six weeks old when he placed himself under our neighbor’s truck and waited for whatever the next step in life might be for him. We assumed the cat belonged to the neighbor’s and went about our own lives. Buster Kitten remained there for three days patient and very unworried about anything.

On the third day, my husband asked the neighbor about their new cat and she quickly assured us that the cat was NOT theirs, just residing under their truck. My husband came into the house and then said words that should not be spoken: “Julianna! Did you see the kitten under the truck next door?” Five minutes later, she comes in with the cat cuddled in her arms, announces it is a boy cat, and where is the cat food?

It was full-swing kitten time so the no-kill facility we took the last two kittens that tried to work their way into our hearts had been happily accepted by them and found good homes. Too many unsponsored relationships in the cat kingdom so no room at the no-kill facility inn. We couldn’t let him into the house with our two cats without a checkup and shots and one vet trip lead to another and every time we went, the cat came home with us. This was two years ago.

Since Buster Kitten had been an outdoor cat for his first six weeks of life, he often gets a longing to get out the door and exploring. Yes, I resist the temptation to open the door when my daughter isn’t looking!

I decided to find him a jungle for the day and from the pictures you can see how well he acclimated to the treat of being out in the wild. He wasn’t afraid, he is never worried and he enjoyed the time immensely.

Okay, I’m fibbing. Buster Kitten’s actual jungle adventure looked more like this . . .

Black Cats . . .

Once upon a time, an older man in our neighborhood suddenly got deathly ill and his daughter placed him in a hospital . . . and he never returned. He left a legacy that his daughter did her best to take care of but the magnitude of his ‘bequest’ to her was impossible to totally resolve. The man had taken in and fed just about every stray cat that came his way. He must have had 30 cats of all sizes and colors in and around his property. We would often see him on the front lawn spending time with his cats. I met up with him at the grocery store one time and his cart was filled to the brim with tins of cat food.

When his daughter tried to clean his house, she also called the shelter to come take the cats. Well, trying to corner and catch half feral cats is no easy chore. We found this out a few weeks later, when four, little waifs showed up on our doorstep. Before our trial by cats was over, we topped off at having found homes for fifteen cats. We got down to the last three and someone in 29 Palms said he would take the two kittens and the one grown cat. We got one of the kittens and the grown cat delivered but one of the half-grown kittens just disappeared from the earth.

Two months later, Fresh (named for her attitude!) returned and demanded food. The people in 29 Palms were filled up with nine cats so we kept looking around for a home for Miss Fresh. Hard cat to place as she was part feral and liked it at our house, thank you very much! That was over six years ago and she is still
queen of our garage, comes in the house to visit but rules our garage and yard and leaves us the occasional dead mouse or half-eaten gopher to express her gratitude. Taking her to the vet for shots and checkups are memorable occasions in our lives.

Being rather small for a cat and completely black, she can be hard to find and she is good at slipping in and out of the house often startling us when we come into a room and she is just sitting there. I’m the only one who has ever been able to hold her but even then, you have to know to the second when to put her down. I’m in charge of giving her the canned stinky food which ranks me somewhat higher than the rest of the household.

The other evening, we were trying to get the young lady into the garage for the evening and my husband opened the front door and complained she was being stubborn and wouldn’t come in. He stalked over to the door out to the garage to see if she would come in through the big garage door. As he walked away, I saw Fresh sitting right next to where he had been standing! I hurriedly got her cat food ready and she followed me out into the garage. I told my husband to close the garage door now before the cat got out again. He testily stated that she wasn’t in the garage while all the time I’m looking down at said cat who was sitting between the two of us bobbing her head back and forth as we talked like watching a tennis match. I kept trying to say that she was in the garage but he had his opinion set in cement as he said he would have seen her come in the front door. I finally walked over to her food dish and she happily hunkered down to eat. My husband had some strong words and never quite believed me that she had slunk past him when he opened the front door. Fresh finished eating, came over and rubbed against my legs, seemed to grin at my husband and, went to bed.

Living the Life . . .

Marriage is a sneaky institution. It starts out with romance and roses and you end up cooking and fixing meals for many members of the food chain. Until I got married, food was something you ate when your body started wearing down. An apple, a taco, a quick plate of spaghetti, whatever it took to keep you going. I never felt that a growling stomach was a reason to begin planning meals. Food on my list of priorities was not at the top. I was busy!

I came home from the office, my first day back at work after I got married. I was home early and got this sudden feeling that I should really prepare something to eat and share with my new husband. I had a thirty-minute head start and by the time Carl arrived home, he was met at the door with the aroma of cooking food. I was happy and he was thrilled. This schedule persisted for more than a year.

Then God sent us a blessing along with nine months of all-day morning sickness. The first four months we coped as best we could. I soon realized that unless I wanted the new baby to resemble a French Fry (one of my more notable cravings), I would have to drag myself from the bed and bathroom and cook once more.

Baby born, morning sickness gone, things still did not go back to newly-wed normal as far as meals went. Besides our own meals, this new person demanded certain nutrition that required my presence (if he were nursing) and special little meals he could gum down or spit up, his choice. We had, I assumed, seen it all. However, we just incorporated these little inconveniences into our lives and forged ahead.

We got two dogs. Now they needed feeding and I had to add their needs into the shopping list. I now prepared meals for two grownups, an ungrateful infant and dogs who thought they were human. It couldn’t get any more complicated.

It did. A new baby came along who continued with the nursing and special little gummable meals. The toddler required a more varied menu aimed at his growing needs. And there were still the dogs and my husband.

Between baby number two and three we acquired a cat. The cat only ate the points off the star-shaped cat food. The cat did not like the middle part of the dried food after she had shorn it of it’s points. I put the cat and her demands on my shopping list.

I now had a husband to feed, three children of varying ages, a cat and two dogs. What more could I deal with. The cupboards were stocked with people food, baby food, children’s food, dog food and cat food. Had we reached the peak?

Just after baby number four made his appearance, the first child asked for a pet of his own—fish. How much trouble can it be to feed fish. You dump in a certain amount of stuff from a special can labeled for fish and they eat. No fall out, no crumbs, no problem. The fish required three different types of food. It seemed that ground feeders didn’t feed if the stuff didn’t sink down in the water. We needed sinking pellets among other things. I added my new house mates to the budget.

We now had a household of six people of various likes and dislikes, two dogs, a cat and fish. Was there life after fish?

We acquired two birds. They like certain bird seed and a particular fruit combination. They have a permanent place on my feeding schedule. They are supposed to live for thirty years but I try not to think about it. My cupboards are full. One holds my husband’s necessities for survival, the children have their cereal, etc. shelf, the lower regions of the kitchen house bags of dog food sitting next to boxes and cans of cat food. Fish food shares quarters with boxes of bird seed. And I am the manager, meal planner and server of it all.

I must confess to having daydreams that seem unworthy of my calling. . . I see myself feeding the fish to the birds, in turn dishing up the birds to the cat who is turned over to the dogs that hate her anyway. I get stumped at what to do about the dogs and usually come to my senses at this point. I did almost lose it totally when my husband came home from the store with a bottle of distilled water. It seems we need to keep it on hand for my son’s carnivorous plants. . .

I’m now housing only one child these days . . . who still has particular wants and snacks. I’m coping and she has her own salary to compensate for my lack of variety in shopping. The birds died way short of their 30-year estimate and we finally got the last of the feathers out of our house. Long story but we now share the house with TWO cats and one slightly feral outside cat who only comes into shred important document left unattended for three seconds or less. Don’t have the dogs of bygone years but still have two dogs. We decided, initially, that one dog was enough until a second dog walked into our backyard and stayed. No more fish, hamsters or birds. We did end up with 15 cats at one point but that is a story for another day. We don’t like to dwell on that era too much. Oh, yeah, my husband still wants dinner every night but that’s okay, I like him more than the dogs anyway!

You Can’t Pick Your Relatives!

I’ve often heard that one can’t always (probably never!) chose their relatives. I speak from experience. Strangely that seems to be the same situation in regards to our cat kingdom.

Due to someone’s carelessness, about six years ago the neighborhood was left with a lot of cats who all found their way to our house. We didn’t have a cat and didn’t particularly want a cat but ended up with 15 at our doorstep. We eventually found homes for them or they wandered off to find their own homes . . . but we ended up with one ‘runt’ in the vast litter that no one seemed to want. We got our first cat. It worked out and life settled down.

In finding all those other cats homes, the day we were supposed to deposit three of them with a family in 29 Palms, one of the bunch didn’t come home and we ended up taking only two to the new home. The third one just wasn’t around so we figured it found a place or, sadly, got run over or something.

Four months later, Fresh, the missing cat came home. Being on her own, she was a feisty cat that would scratch if you petted her too long. She liked the outdoor life and slept at night in the garage. Although she played with our cat when they were front porch kittens, they hated each other now.

Two years ago, my daughter found a very placid kitten under a car next door. It was obvious it was hungry but had a ‘lily of the fields’ attitude that food would eventually come to him so no use stressing over a few hunger pains.

Last year, my husband was working in the front yard and was startled when a big gray and white mangy cat came tearing up to him screaming. Turned out that was his dinner time announcement. He was a very friendly, placid cat that ate, slept, and screamed a lot, mainly for food. My daughter found a home for him with friends and enjoys visiting him every weekend or so. He still screams for food but loves his new people and their two cats. They named his Speedy, mostly because he isn’t!

The relatives side? We were checking our security camera one morning and were shocked to see our third cat, Buster Kitten, on our front porch but before panic could set in, Buster showed up in the computer room. It was very obvious this was probably his brother if not a very close relative. He visits often at night either looking for his long-lost brother or food . . . probably food.

A few weeks ago, another cat showed up both on camera and in person. Given the yowling for food and the fur coat, Speedy had a brother. He had a collar so had a home but having lived with Speedy for awhile, dinner time was all the time. We don’t feed him but he lives in hope.

Last week, we are heading around the corner of our property on our way to the store when we saw ‘Fresh’ playing in the front lawn like she loves to do. She was hopping and prancing and just having a good time. We pulled to the curb to
open the remote garage door in case she wanted in. She looked at us and there was no recognition in her eyes at all. Fresh is a very small black cat with brilliant yellow eyes. So was this one but it wasn’t Fresh. Another relative here for a visit.

Last night, when my husband was closing up the house, he found Fresh perched up
in the tree looking down. At the foot of the tree was Speedy’s brother and Fresh’s cousin. Before Speedy’s brother could scream a dinner order, my husband deliberately turned and without looking back, went into the house and firmly closed the door. A few minutes later, the ‘right’ Fresh the Cat was at the door to come in and the door was deadbolted . . . just in case, you know!

By the way, the cat pictured above? That was one of the original invasion we named Howl because every morning he would sit on our hose box and howl for food. He left before we could find him a home and turned up four years later. He was well-fed and obviously had found himself a home. He can’t quite remember why he comes here but seems to remember that sitting on our hose box and howling resulted in food . . . but not any more.

How Can I Be Lonely?

I spend a lot of time on my own, these days, with three of my children out of the nest and another one working. Actually, I don’t mind as I have time to myself without interruption and can get things done. Today, I had packages that had to be prepared for mailing and caught a picture of the company I kept today. She wasn’t much help but she was very interested in anything that rustled, rolled off the table, or got within claw length.