One day last September, I went to let Fred out the front door and Rudy made his escape. Rudy is an ‘indoor cat’ with good reason. We live in a rural area where there are wild critters, an occasional feral cat, and crazy drivers who think our road is a race track. We all try to be careful going in and out the door, but Rudy is a sneaky little guy and very fast. The magic words are “You want to go see, Fred”. I’ve heard so called experts say animals don’t understand human speech but as anyone who shares a home with animals knows….. that just isn’t true.
If Wendy says “You want to go see, Fred?” Fred will make a mad dash for the door, while Rudy streaks behind the couch and under the end table to be in position to sneak out!
Fortunately for us, Rudy usually doesn’t go far or stay out long. He races around hiding and staying out of sight for awhile until he is ready to be coaxed back inside. “Coaxing” is a routine that involves putting dry food in a bowl and going outside to rattle the food dish and call “kitty, kitty, kitty” in your special coaxing voice. Since Rudy is a greedy gut, this usually works after a few attempts, however he has to do his coy little approach and run routine a few times first.
Anyway, on this particular day when Rudy made his escape, Wendy was in the back yard near our pick-up truck calling and I had a bowl of dry food ready to start rattling it when this little black and white cat came out from under the truck. The little cat immediately starting rubbing up against Wendy’s legs. I took the food dish over and offered it to her and she attacked it like she hadn’t eaten in a long time. After she had finished off every crumb in the bowl, we took her inside. When we started petting her, hair started shedding everywhere. Since it was fall and cool out, this didn’t seem like a normal reaction. She looked to us like about a half-grown kitten.
After the usual attempts to find her people failed, we decided she was here to stay. The first order of business was to get her to a vet for a check up. Since we had been feeding her for a couple of weeks she had gained some weight but still seemed too small to be full grown. Imagine our surprise when we found out she was a full grown cat, the vet estimated at least 18 months old, and she had been spayed! The vet said she was probably just days away from starvation when we found her. She was used to being cared for and didn’t know how to hunt to survive on her own. She is a very sweet natured cat and had obviously been well cared for before so why her family abandoned her we will never know.
This sweet little kitty has big green eyes and a little black beauty mark on her face. We decided she was Miss Kitty (as in Gunsmoke). The first couple of days, she hid out under the desk, only coming out to eat and use the litter box. At first Rudy and Fred totally ignored her but then, as Miss Kitty stayed out from under the desk for longer periods of time, Rudy decided to assert himself and started chasing her. It took a couple of days for Miss Kitty to realize that Rudy is all bluff. He is a master of the art of shadow boxing and will rear up, swatting with his paws and looking fierce, but he never actually makes contact with those sharp claws. Now Rudy and Miss Kitty take turns chasing each other and leaping over the ever tolerant Fred while he is trying to nap.
Sadly, many pets like Miss Kitty end up being abandoned every year. Families split up, move away, or just are unable to care for these animals. The tragedy is that there are animal shelters and organizations everywhere that could help find them new homes. Starvation is a terrible way to die. It just doesn’t need to happen.