Anyone who has been following me knows I love cats. I love all animals with dogs coming in second, don’t get me started on baby goats, miniature horses and tiny donkeys; but somehow cats have an affinity with me. Since I was very young, cats seem to follow me everywhere. So much so my family and friends dubbed me the Cat Whisperer. Every cat I’ve ever had in my life was and is a stray that has found its way into my heart and into my home.
My Mom had a treasured memory she often retold of me when I was about 8 years old awkwardly on the stoop in front of the screen door holding a giant tuxedo cat that was nearly bigger than me tearfully pleading to her that the cat followed me home, has no collar, and really really needs a home. She was like, “This huge cat followed you home?” “Yes,” I replied in my desperate strained crying voice. She laughed and told me to check it for fleas, we’ll feed it outside for awhile and make inquiries in the neighborhood to see if it was really a stray. She thought it looked so well fed how could it be a stray? But after a week it was given a collar, potty box, food and water dish, trip to the vet and a comfy home. I named him Mitch Miller because he had what looked like a Mitch Miller Goatee. Yes, I’m that old.
There was the time hubby and I were taking a walk when a little blonde kitten jumped off the porch of the house we were passing, and started following us down the sidewalk. I took it back to their yard a couple of times, and finally had to put it on the owner’s porch, create a diversion, duck into an alley, and run to escape it.
There was another time when also on one of our walks we were in downtown, which is only 2 blocks by the way, and when passing the neighborhood tavern, a black cat was continually being smacked in the head by the swinging door of the building while trying to sneak in. As we passed, he started following us down the sidewalk, which is something I had become more than used to. My husband made a Pied Piper comment as I picked up the adorable kitten and walked back to the bar. I asked the people if anyone owned the kitty, and they said it was just a cat that was hanging around. He was so cute, but it concerned me that it was coming on Halloween time, and he was not in a good place. I picked up the tiny little smiling sweet kitty, held him inside my denim jacket, and took him home. His name was Tagger because he tagged after us. What a great cat he was. There was Princess, Duke, Duchess, Mitch, Cocoa, Peanut, Heidi, Dusty, Tagger, and Yadi. These are a few of the cats and cat stories I have, but the cat we have now is the most precious story yet.
As you also know, I have a flower garden. While I was working in it one Sunday, I heard a cat meowing, more like caterwauling. I was like, where is that coming from? I looked down and inside one of my shrub rosebushes was a black and white tuxedo cat at the base of the bush inside the jumble of thorny thorn canes. I said, “Well, hello kitty.” (pun intended) He came out from under the bush, walked right up to me, rubbed against my leg, and let me pet him for quite awhile. I didn’t pick him up but still he followed me around the garden all day. He was so skinny, and really never shut up. He was so so loving though. He let any of us who wanted to pet and love him. We put food out for him, but he never really seemed that interested. About a week later I was considering letting him live with us permanently. He stopped coming around for a few days, and with that I thought we’d dodged a bullet, and he’d moved on. Then while working outside one day, I opened the door to the guest house, and he came madly sprinting out of there. Yikes! He must have swept in at some point undetected when I had been out there a few days ago. Now there was a really hungry cat. Although he was outside at this point, I made the decision to adopt this little wonder should he show up again. I got a potty box and some food set up in the little house out back to bring him in. Sure enough that very evening the incessantly chatty cat returned and literally knocked on the door. This verbal affectionate cat had stollen our hearts and was allowed passage to the little house. The very next day, he found himself at the vet. He was IV’d, de-fleaed, de-wormed, de-mited, and rabie and distemper shotted. He was a noisy, uber warmhearted, lovey dovey, whirling dervish of a fur ball. Our granddaugher named him Oreo, and I added the Speedwagon so Oreo Speedwagon (a play on words from the famous locally birthed rock back REO Speedwagon) was now an official member of the Day family. He stayed in the little house for awhile now sharing space with our son and granddaughter. I was taking care of my handicapped elderly mother in the main residence, and bringing in this spirited little bundle of joy and happiness could be a dangerous tripping hazard for her so he remained exiled but very loved. After my mother passed away, we brought him into the big house (which in reality is still a little house by modern standards ;). He was very ill with many stomach issues from living outside and fending for himself, and it took about 2 years to get him to where he was mostly healthy. His buoyant personality, however, never waned. He climbed on things, climbed in things, had some OCD about how his pottybox should be kept, and never stopped trying to eat the plants and flowers. His infinity for plants was a throwback to what he mostly ate before he was adopted. Roses are his favorite flowers, of course, because that is what he was eating in the garden while using the bush as his protected enviornment. We grow live catnip which he, like most cats flip over; but he really flips over it. At one point I was wondering if he was ever going to be quiet; but after he felt better he became a silent partner and only speaks when there’s something to say. He’s now a happy fat cat.
Why is my cat a dog, you ask? Well, it’s because I’ve never had a cat who adores sitting on laps and being petted constantly like this one. There is no such thing as too much hands-on affection in his eyes. He totally scratches like a dog, moves his poop around like a dog, watches TV like a dog, mans his post in the window like a dog, and lets us know when anything is awry. Oh, except for the time a squirrel made its way down the chimney into the living room. We were running around trying to open doors and block the way to the kitchen while Oreo just sat on the back of the couch calmly watching the madness without so much as a yawn. He comes in and stands up next to me with his front paws on the bed and meows in my ear when he thinks I’ve slept too long in the morning. If I’m sick in bed, he lays next to me without leaving my side until I’m up and feeling better. If he thinks I need to check on Dad, he’ll come and get me. He lets me know if the strays we feed are here, and I haven’t been out to fill their dish yet. He has a keen awareness of everything going on and is on watch at all times. The most recent development has been between Oreo and my husband Jim. Oreo and Jim have a very close loving relationship. He can sit with Dad and watch TV for hours. Speedwagon is like Jim’s spirit animal. Jim hurt his leg badly last weekend and has been using a walker around the house ever since. Ore-baby has taken it upon himself to be his caretaker. Whenever Jim gets up to go anywhere in the house, this ‘cat’ gets in front of the walker and escorts him to wherever he goes, sits and waits for him to do whatever he was doing, then escorts him back to his chair. Yesterday Jim stepped down wrong on his leg, let out a squeal, and Oreo came running to me for help as if he were Lassie telling his farm family that Timmy was stuck in the well. He is amazing, amazing, amazing. What other cat can say something like that?
We have another cat we adopted last fall who is currently residing in the little house waiting for her chance to be promoted. She also followed me around the garden all last summer and eventually found her way to the vet and the ‘other’ house. She is a special little calm bundle of furry joy too. She doesn’t mind if you pet her, but lap appointments are very rare. She is quiet and sweet. A completely different personality. Grace and love emanates from her every pore and I adore her.
I can’t say enough about spaying and neutering your pets and adopting a homeless or rescued miracle into your lives. Take the leap and make it happen… Sandy
P.S. Happy birthday shout out today to our oldest son, Jay. Rock on!