Adding another furball to the mix
Published 8:05 am Friday, March 24, 2023
Yep, I jinxed us, alright.
It was but a couple of weeks after I opined one evening to Paul, “You know, it’s been a few years since any stray cat showed up here at the farm…” that we discovered our marmalade cat, lying near death beneath the tool shed.
I suppose it never rains, but pours, or, in our case, purrs, as a few evenings ago, I walked the few steps out of the barn towards the tool shed to recharge the battery to the leaf blower when—I kid you not—beneath the front steps, two big eyes peered out from a distinctly tabby face, including great tufts of hair protruding from his ears that would put any 80-year-old man to shame, and is the tell-tale trait of a Maine Coon cat.
“Bernie?” I asked, startled, thinking him to be our actual Maine Coon-mix that we took in from a shelter. “How did you get out of the house?”
The eyes blinked and went out as the cat retreated to the safety of the dark confines beneath the shed. I walked into the house.
“Is Bernie inside?” I called to Paul.
“He’s in here with me,” came his reply from his back office.
“Uh-oh,” I said.
“William must have gotten out the word. There’s another stray under the tool shed.”
My reply was an aggrieved groan as we both have soft spots for strays and can’t ignore them. Paul came down the hallway.
“It looks exactly like Bernie,” I began, then turned around and was shocked to see the cat—a large kitten, really—had followed me to the house and was now standing directly outside our glass storm door and alternately crying and bumping its head and shoulders against the door, to be let in.
“It’s got dried blood on its neck!” I cried. Paul crouched down for a closer look. “And down its side, too. We’ve got to get it to a vet—it’s been bitten by something.”
But it was nearly dark and the vet’s office was closed. I forbid Paul to try to handle the cat in case it had survived a rabid attack and was infected. All we could offer it for the night, that cold night with temperatures dropping to 30 degrees, was a crate placed next to the door, stuffed with towels and a bowl of organic chicken cat food, doled out a bit at a time so as not to overwhelm its tummy. It boldly entered the crate and scarfed it down, making it very clear with its trust and desperate attempts at affection that it had been kindly handled by humans in its past. Despite knowing we were giving it more comfort than it had had in some time, the hardest thing I’ve ever done was checking on it through the night as it pressed its front paws against the glass and mewed pitifully to come in.
As morning came, Paul, donning gloves, was able to scoop up the little cat and slip it into the crate. Driving straight to the vet, it was discovered that the red on its neck and side wasn’t blood at all, but some sort of paint! In fact, our vet was happy to report that despite his thinness (yes, it’s a boy), our six-month-old kitten was robustly healthy, and tested negative for every virus a stray cat might carry. Our relief was palpable but I moaned.
“Five cats,” I sighed. “FIVE!”
“We’ve had as many as six,” said Paul, as if therefore five was a good thing.
“It means daily vacuuming and an extra litter box and cases from Chewy,” I reminded him. He nodded.
In keeping with Royal protocol, we’ve named him after Prince George, or ‘Georgie.’ He behaves, however, far more like young Prince Louis—bold as brass, and already in charge of the household. William is horrified, Bernie, thinks he’s looking in a mirror, Tippy, our eldest, is ignoring him, Mia, quite jealous, has staked her claim next to Paul on the sofa. And the dogs, for the first time in their lives, have had their ears cuffed and noses boxed repeatedly by a two-pound ball of fur that rears up on his back legs to make them back off. Shockingly, Georgie has even put his own life in jeopardy by shoving his head into their food dish as they’re chowing down their kibble. They growl and bare their teeth, only to receive a swat across the snout in return. It’s an incredible thing to witness.
Having not learned my lesson about jinxing, I settled down on the sofa as Georgie purred and bumped his head against my stomach.
“You know,” it suddenly occurred to me, “We’ve gone the whole winter without a single snowfall!”