Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Yellow Cats in My Life

On Christmas Day, a yellow kitten, about 12 weeks old trotted up my parents lane towards their house as if on a mission. Their 11 year old tuxedo cat was not amused and began beating up on the poor thing immediately. We separated them. The yellow kitten with a white tip tail and an upside triangle of white on its chest cried and purred and let me pick it up immediately.

We already have two cats, Molly and Tweeker. They get a long great. I really didn't want another cat. But, you can't turn away a yellow cat on Christmas Day so I popped it in a rabbit cage with plastic tray, with a can of food, dry food and a litter tray. I put straw in the corner and schlepped the poor bastard to our garage. Andrew named the cat BOLO, an acronym for Be On the Look Out for...

Bolo was very sweet, I let it out to run around the garage while I cleaned out its cage and gave it fresh victuals. I think I wouldn't have had to press Andrew to keep it, but two cats are enough. I put a night light in the garage so BOLO wouldn't be in pitch blackness.

Yesterday morning I called 9 count 'em NINE humane societies. There was no room at the inn, anywhere. At 3:30 though, the good folks at Union County called saying they would take one kitten, but I would have to pay a surrender fee. Fine.

I had a late lunch at Mom and Dad's and in the fog, the rain and the cold, trundled Bolo into a carrier and took off for Marysville.

I have to admit, the little sucker was so cute I almost turned back. I kept one hand with fingers laced through the bars of the carrier. Bolo laid its chin on my fingers and purred to sleep. Occasionally opening soulful yellow eyes.

Bolo is really cute.

But I don't want a third cat.

I took Bolo into the Union County humane society. They don't euthanize unless animals are diseased or aggressive. They pronounced Bolo a girl, among the slight 3% of yellow/orange cats that are female. They were impressed by how lovey she was and assured me that she would adopt out quick and they would call me when she did.

I paid the surrender fee and donated a little something extra. If you live near Marysville, stop by and ask for Bolo, or the little yellow cat that came in the day after Christmas. I would love to see her go to a good home.

Yellow cats though, have been a large part of my life, and by telling you about them, you'll get a further peek into the life that is Jules.

IN the begining there was...

The first cat I ever encountered was my parents cat, Kitty. Kitty was a tiger striped and my Mom really loved her. There are pictures of me as a baby with her nearby. Kitty had to have a surgery and didn’t make it.

When I was three, four-ish a gray tom began to live with us. I named him Lucky (man who hasn’t had a pet named Lucky). Lucky used up a good third of his nine lives during his tenure with us, from tomcat fights and once, Dad accidentally ran over Lucky with a truck and he survived, so was he really lucky?

After Lucky disappeared, there was a succession of strays that passed through. I was obsessed with the name Jeff for a while and when I was in the third grade, fall of the third grade we got a barn cat, a gray kitten that I inevitable named Smoky.

Smoky had a cold. Dad took him to the vet. Smoky didn’t have a cold, he had feline leukemia and died at the vets.

Not so good with the cats so far.

Then there was Squeakers. My Uncle cat us this cat, he kept a tuxedo kitten for himself and I got the adorable orange and white Squeakers. Squeakers was a terror. His favorite game was the “hide behind something and wait until family member walks by. Jump out, latch yourself to their leg with you claws and hang on.”

I felt guilty for hating this cat. Everyone was wary of him. One summer day, Dad was taking the round up with the spray wand and the handheld tank around the farmyard killing weeds. Squeakers decided to play his favorite game and before Dad knew it, and airborne Squeakers sailed through the air and through a stream of round up. Dad did not intentionally spray Squeakers, my Dad isn’t like that. It was all just a horrible intersection of circumstance.

Dad hoped for the best. But the next morning I found the worst when I went to feed him, Oh Squeakers the bell tolled for thee.

Even though I didn’t really like the little bastard, it’s still traumatic to be like, 8 and find your pet kitten um, prone and not breathing.

So Dad took me to a buddy’s house, you know the inevitable country farm with 50 cats.

I saw two yellow cats and I couldn’t make up my mind. Dad reminded me I could only have one. I reminded him that just the other day I found my kitten laid flat on the barn floor with flies buzzing around him…it would be years before I found out about the round up bit. I got two cats.

The one I wanted the most, the fat orange one, I named Chubby. He was a darker yellow to orange, short hair, with green eyes. I can see him in my minds eye, looking pissy and adorable. I also picked out his lighter yellow, blue eyed litter mate, Jeff. Yes, I named yet another cat Jeff, don’t ask me why.

So the Perdue family left Cecil’s farm with Chubby and Jeff in tow.

We have lots of pictures of Chubby and Jeff sleeping and playing together. Since they were litter mates, I was like the third wheel. Chubby liked to be petted on the head and could tolerate being picked up but he wouldn’t let you rub his tummy. Jeff would not let you pick him up or pet his head but he would stretch out in front of my Dad’s wood stove and let you rub his tummy.

We got these kittens when they were a little too old I think, to be really groomed to be affectionate. They were in at cats, meaning they didn’t have a litter box in the house and weren’t declawed but Mom trained both of them to go to the door when they wanted out.

In March of my fourth grade year, when the cats were one year old, I came home from school to find Chubby by the back porch crying. I could hear crying underneath the porch…it was Jeff. We was in the corner but too far back for me to reach. Dad got home shortly after I did and took Jeff to the vet. He wouldn’t let me see Jeff, whose back legs had been crushed by a car.

Jeff was buried by a large tree near one of our barns.

For months afterward Chubby did not like to be alone. If he was in the house and he felt like he couldn’t find us, he would stand in the middle of our hallway and cry. He did not however, greatly increase in affection. This is not to say he didn’t like to be petted or have his chin rubbed or brushed. This is to say he wouldn’t let me dress him up in a cabbage patch doll bonnet and dandle him on my knee like a baby. God knows I tried.

Chubby began to spend more time in the house as time passed. When we were leaving the house for several hours, we would have to put him outside.

Like a sixth sense, Chubby could tell we would be getting ready and make a break for going behind the couch. I was the obvious choice to fish him out. Chubby would wait until I had just reached him before releasing a potent cat fart. I managed to get him out every time though and he never scratched me up in the process.

Now by now you are thinking this cat is a real piece of work, but let me assure you that while Andrew refers to Chubby, even posthumously as the “viscious viscious creature.” Chubby was in fact my Beloved Childhood Companion.

When I was done with my evening chores, or later when I came home from my high school job at night and Chubby was in the barnyard, he would race me to the house. In my later college years, there were nights when I could beat him.

When I was little we would play a game where I would hide in the pine trees on the northern side of our yard and Chubby would follow me.

Chubby would sleep with me when I was sick. He was never one you could wrap your arm around and cuddle, but he would sleep by my feet or curl up behind my knees.

I used to make him catnip socks from my old socks and he developed a taste for syrup and butter left on my plate after eating eggos or cream cheese from a bagel and he loved pepperoni from Grandma's pizza.

As he grew older he spent more time in the house. Laying against Dad's legs on the recliner---more for body heat than affection I'd think. Mom would patiently let him out at 3 in the morning for him to go to the bathroom and then let the old man back in.

Chubby liked to be brushed, but even that was a little game. You could brush him and brush him and he would purr and roll around but brush him one second to long and BAM, he's whip around and try to scratch you.

Even though Chubby was a medium sized cat, he would scrap with any cat that came on the property, he was very territorial. And he had a couple close calls. He was struck by a car but only his back leg was stressed, not even broken. Another time he got a bad bite on his paw in a cat fight and had to go to the vet. When he was abotu 14 he ate something bad and nearly died, the vet saved him though.

By the end of my college years Chubby began to look different, grizzled. His head started to look larger than his body even though he weighed the same. It took him longer to jump down from beds and chairs. He moved slower. By the end of graduate school he'd let me hold him for longer periods of time, mostly because he was too tired I think.

After Andrew and I left our wedding reception, we went back to Mom and Dad's house to change out of the wedding clothes. I left my dress on the guest bed, in my old bedroom. When Mom came home, Chubby was laying on my dress, sunning himself through the west facing window. Mom took a picture of it for me. Despite having claws, Chubby didn't hurt the dress at all and Mom let him sleep, waiting for him to get up before packing my dress away.

By the winter of 2005 Mom and Dad were telling me everytime we visited how Chubby was on his last leg. I think they worried how upset I would be. Sadly, pets rarely die peacefully in their sleep. I told them they would know when it was time and that was okay by me. I still have in a little box, a bit of Chubby's fur, taken from the brush we used at our own risk to brush him.

One day in March, Chubby walked into the kitchen while my Dad was eating breakfast. He sat down and lifted a front paw to lick it as cats often do, but he lost his balance and fell down. He looked up at my Dad, and did not attempt to get up so Dad took him to our good country vet.

Chubby was very close to or just at 18 years old. Not bad, not bad indeed.

And I suppose it is with Chubby in mind that I was determined, no matter what to find little Bolo a place at a humane society. I was calling as far away as Licking County. If we had to keep Bolo a week until there was a place, or even adopted Bolo ourselves, I think we would have. But I am pleased with Union County and sure she will get adopted, who knows, maybe by a little girl who wants a yellow cat.

There are a bazillion stray cats out there, many will live and die without any notice of humans. We can't save them all. But like everything else in life, we do what we can. If you are thinking about getting a pet, or maybe you have lost a pet recently and are hesitant to get another, I would say this to you:

You love them while they are here, and give them the best life you can and then you let them go when it is time...they count on you for all of that. And, when you are ready, you save another pet's life...for yourself, for them and for the honor of those you have loved before.

Bolo and many other worthy animals are waiting for you... PS, I will post a picture of Chubby on the wedding dress when I can.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ten More Random Things, real time

1) I've not been sleeping well lately. I usually read till I get sleepy but I keep reading andnot getting sleepy. Then the cats wake me up on and off and I don't have the heart to kick them out. Last night I actually woke up and reminded myself to do something at work and I know that's not healthy...I'm worried.

2) I had a horrible migraine Saturday. First one in two months. Sucky

3) We didn't put up a Christmas tree because I knew sweet little Molly would destroy it. I tried putting a fiberoptic tree up but she chewed it and knocked it down. So now all we have is snow men figures on the tv and presents in the corner. UGH.

4) Typing longhand writing takes a really long time.

5) I'm tired of cleaning our house and I'm only 30.

6) I'm bringing Clementines to our staff pot luck.

7) Thinking about sharing on the blog, the things I am doing in my life to go green and the struggle between, want, need and green. There are five billion sites like that but the difference with this one is you know me. Comment if you would like to see an occasional blog post on that.

8) Worried that I am running out of stem on the book. Seems like every scene I start bores me to write. If it's boring to write then God help the reader.

9) Rediscovered how much I love working quietly in my little room, and how much I love solitude.

10) My purple hat with the tassles is warm and whimsical.