Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sassy Has a Tail to Tell

Sleeping Orange Tabby
Cat Friend Two
We’d been hearing an otherworldly meowing for three or four days. Boo and Molly were inside but we could never be sure if it wasn’t them playing. Winter hit hard that year, a cold snap that included gale force winds and freezing rain like daggers, turning to blizzard blowing snow. We lived in a trailer less than a quarter mile from the farm Merrill worked at; since he had decided it wasn’t much sense to drive such a short way he walked. This particular morning I was to discover where the source of the ethereal meowing was coming from. 

Just before 8 am I opened the porch door for Merrill when we both caught a glimpse of an orange cat before it vanished down a hole in the skirting around the trailer. How long it had been under there we didn’t know but now we had an accounting for the ghostly meowing we’d been hearing. After he left I opened a can of tuna, bundled myself into my parka, boots, mitts and scarf and sat myself down next to the hole with the tuna held out just far enough that it had no choice but to crawl out to get the food. The bribe didn’t take long to work but the feline fought like a wildcat to get free of the towel and my grasp. In the dead of winter and so obviously a  ‘throw-away’, an unwanted that someone dumped because, being near a farm thought there would be a means of survival or they just chucked the helpless little thing out to die in the freezing cold. Someone was grievously in need of a heart.

Once I managed to get this struggling little bundle inside and while the cat ate I had a better look at it. ‘It’ was not a cat in the real sense of the word, more like a pale shadow of one. The sad package before me was a dirty orange color, more bone than skin or fur and ferocious when defending food. Boo and Molly didn’t know what to make of this unwelcome, belligerent stranger suddenly in their midst so they stayed at a constant distance and gave way in everything so now, there was a perpetual tension in the house. Kitty was equally vicious towards us. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, I had to be extremely careful when putting food down so as not to lose a hand to a sudden flash attack at anything that threatened the food and milk dishes; the cat was utterly convinced that I would the food away from it. 

Puss was sick, undernourished and piddled everywhere. I soon learned that we had another female in the house, unsprayed. Now I had to practically reinvent patience when it came to teaching her to use the cat box, this only when she would allow me to touch her, let alone to pick her up but as time went on and with slow improvement, she started gaining some weight. As her health improved so did her temperament, somewhat, but still she remained openly defiant and distant as if afraid to give in and rely on me for her care. It took several months to win her trust and more than a few more months before the three of them would learn to like each other and get along. It was a long winter! 

She took delight in doing her level best to dominate Boo and Molly. Taking over their personal places and making them hers; eating out of their dishes and playing with their toys. I think it amused her to annoy them and get away with it but eventually Molly began to take exception and quarreled with her over things that were rightfully hers. So the sparing events started. It was not unlike the Roman Gladiators, all one had to do was put armor on them and a sword in their paws and Wawla!  Gladiator Cats!  

They never actually hurt each other and even Boo would wake up and take notice; it was the loud caterwauling that got the neighbors attention and brought an almost endless stream of visitors and sudden friends to my door. For obvious reasons we named her Sassy because of her sassy disposition. Eventually, Sassy and Molly worked out their differences and played together, this usually involved racing up and down the hallway to see which of the two was faster and squabbling over the highest seat on the cat tower Merrill made for them, much to the annoyance of Boo. 

For a time Molly forgot about venturing outside to follow Boo, now she had a new friend to play with. Summer wore on and after a time it became a little too quiet in the house; I went to check. Merrill had repaired the screen in the spare room window, now I found it torn again and this time, two kittens were out and about in the neighborhood. 

Sassy has had a happy home with us for the past few years and joined us on our adventurous cross Canada road trip to PEI. 


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