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Cats and birds (03/25/2012)

Two weeks ago, the first Robin showed up in our yard — DOA. Presumably, poor Robin Redbreast flew into our window and that was the end of his Spring. But other birds are returning and the early morning concerts are in full swing.

As is the Neighborhood Cat Visiting Program, which this year features a black cat, along with the regular Tabby, and a fluffy white cat. The big orange cat who used to be in the Program has apparently become homebound, or been moved to a different location (cat heaven?).

I’m a cat lover, but I’m a bird lover, too. Since I presently don’t have a cat, after about thirty-five years of being a cat owner, and moving to the country, I am more sensitive to seeing cats in our yard, which is not exactly next door to our neighbors. It’s hard for me to tell if the cats that come and sit under my bird feeders are house cats, or feral cats.

My sisters take in the cats that wander over to their house, and now have four (Tim recently became ill and had to be euthanized) who have the run of the place. But since I have frequent family visitors who are allergic to cats, this is not a possibility for me. Not to mention that the neurotic dog-who-must-not-be-written-about would probably not survive another pet in the family.

We’ve never had a cat who wasn’t adopted. Our first cat, John and I, was a little one called Moon. To show how mature we were, we would put her in the middle of the living room floor, while we each took to opposite corners. Then we’d call to her to come, and whoever she went to was the winner. No fair using food as bait. But when we moved, Moon went to a friend. We didn’t want her to have to change school districts.

After we moved around a bit, from here to Seattle and back, we settled down on the ridge, soon found a need for a cat, and wanted a pet for the kids. We found a nice little tabby at the Humane Society, and named him Kitty. Naturally, Kitty turned into an enormous cat, about the size of a Daschund. But we have photos of the kids carrying him around the house, and he never scratched them or even made a squawk. He was a good mouser, too.

I took the kids to Massachusetts to see my parents, and while we were gone, John noticed that Kitty seemed more than a little lethargic. He took him to the vet, but Kitty succumbed to kidney disease. When we returned, John picked us up at the airport, and told me about Kitty. We decided to tell the kids, who were five and three, when we got a little closer to home. Cassidy reacted by crying and saying how much she would miss Kitty. Morgan said, “I don’t care. I hate Kitty!” Hmm, we thought, that’s a strange reaction from a girl who spent so much time hugging Kitty. Then about five minutes later, from the back seat came a loud wail, “Kitty, Kitty, why did you leave me? I miss you Kitty! I wish I was with you! Kitty come back!”

It wasn’t until we moved to town that we got a cat that stayed a while — a long while. LaBelle (middle name Tinker) was all-gray with green eyes, a beautiful cat. She could be very affectionate, or she could snub you for days. The blackbirds in the yard had her number. They’d sit on the telephone wire when she came out the back door and strafe her as she skulked past. She’d bring us a mouse now and again, just to keep her hand in the game. But her strangest habit was to disappear almost every winter for about two weeks. We would mourn her, and almost be over her when she showed up at the back door, and when let in went straight to her bowl. She lasted 19 years, spending the last year or two in the luxury old cats home where my mother-in-law brushed her every day and fed her the expensive tuna. She was cremated, but I am sworn to secrecy as to where she is buried.

Then we got started on Standard Poodles, non-allergenic, and have no cat in our life, except the ones we don’t want, sitting under the bird feeders. So far it’s a cold war, but this new black cat may be pushing the situation toward more aggression — like entrapment. You never know. 


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