Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2007

Abandoned cat finds home among trees, fields on farm

November 15, 2007

Last Thursday, I arrived home after a busy morning of work to a quiet house. My wife was away having one of the cars repaired, so I let out the dogs from their cages in the garage. They were ecstatic. Minnie spun four to five times in her characteristic Kansas tornado routine. Suzie, the border collie, went immediately for the nearest throw toy and returned begging for me to throw it. I picked up the wet tennis ball and heaved it as far as I could, dashing in the back door while she ran it down. I quickly changed into my grubbies and headed back outdoors. It was a glorious fall afternoon, and I was not going to spoil it by being inside. As I went out the door, I grabbed the key to the pickup.

When I reached the pickup and opened the door, both dogs vaulted inside and took up a berth on their respective seats. I got my shovel, gloves and 5-gallon buckets, as we were heading to the woods to dig up cedar trees for transplanting in our shelterbelt.

When we arrived at the edge of the woods, I only had to open the door of the truck and my passengers piled out without command. Off they plunged, their noses no more than an inch above the earth.

When I had exhausted myself digging and filled my two buckets with small cedars, I whistled my girls in and we jumped back in the old Ford.

Out of the corner of my vision ahead, I thought I saw a flying cat, out-stretched, vertically. This little female feline was a new arrival to the farm last month. It appeared she was jumping straight up to snatch a grasshopper in flight.

Part of our cat's diet includes grasshoppers and an occasional mouse. Dry cat food fills in the balance. By the time we came around the corner, this cat was perched midway up a nearby hickory tree. My riding companions had not noticed the cat, but she gave me pause to remember how she got all the way to her free and easy life on the farm.

You see, Hope, as I will refer to our new farm cat, was found nursing her four kittens in a plastic clothes basket on the clinic's front doorstep when we arrived one September morning. No note. No food.

Hope's little brood has not been the first drop and run at our doorstep and probably will not be the last. The staff and I have decided over the past few years to allow our free kennel space to exist as a safe harbor for wayward cats and kittens. The goal, obviously, is to locate good homes for all, once we socialize, vaccinate, de-worm, de-flea or tick and treat the ear mites for these fortunate felines.

Although Hope's kittens barely had their eyes open when we found them, they all have great homes now. Most of these kittens also are spayed or neutered and are living healthy lives with wonderful, pet-loving citizens. In Hope's case, she got the ultimate citizenship and was allowed to come home to our farm where she has fit in marvelously.

Most of you may or may not realize that our fair city does not have the where for all to house the entire stray or feral cat population. I do not even blame our Animal Control officer for not wanting to try to corral all these homeless felines. It is an insurmountable task at times. If you find yourself with a batch of kittens, hidden in an outbuilding or a stray, call our office. We'll try to help find homes for all.

You know it never seems to amaze me, when I think I can't take another kitten in, somehow one of you step up to adopt or foster one. Over the last 20 years, as we have watched the local human population grow, the cat population also has grown proportionately. This phenomenon only will continue, barring a major disease outbreak like feline leukemia or FIV, feline immunosuppressive virus, which also tend to increase with increasing cat populations.

As I wiped the sweat from my brow and pulled of my dirt-stained gloves, again my eyes were distracted by a blur dashing through the woods. I was glad I was not a grasshopper or mouse with Hope patrolling our woods and pasture. A feeling of satisfaction welled up inside, as I could only feel that Hope had truly found her way home.

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