Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Kitty Hell...Nine Lives/Nine Days...
And this one comes to you all the way from the far reaches of Western Washington...which means SPAZ ATTACK is even further west than I am! Written with the flair of a professional writer/journalist, Spaz shares with us a moment in the life of a cat and its owner not afraid of heights:
Mice, shrews and rats – all are drawn to make a cozy home in my barn full of hay. Warm for them, yes, but the pesky rodents drive me nuttier than a loon (as if living with MS didn’t keep me in that mindset all by itself!). One of my dogs, Shadow,a little Golden Retriever, is already a good mouser – seeking them out and killing them, but as most know the rodent population is quite adept at procreation; hence, poor Shadow couldn’t possibly keep up the pace. It seemed for every one he killed four more sprang up. I decided to get a cat. I had many friends asking me to take one of their own barn cats off their hands – for free it seems cats are prolific, too.) But the humane society had put the word out they were inundated with cats so would people pleaaaaaaaaaaase come and adopt one (or two, or three)? I decided to do the honorable thing and rescue a cat from the Humane Society – which, by the way, told me ALL their cats were house cats.
“Well, we do have this one male in this corner cage… I think he’d make an excellent barn cat.” I peered into his cage, unimpressed by his typical tomcat looks — gray-stripped. His fear of me showed as he backed away and glowered at me from the corner of his cage. I figured it didn’t matter if he bonded to me, I just wanted him to kill mice. I told the young gal I’d take him. Imagine my shock that it was going to cost me $70 to adopt this cat – I could have gotten one free!
“The $70 is the price for getting him neutered and just helps cover our costs of feeding him while here." Oh well, I reasoned,the money was going to a good cause.
Since he just didn’t seem to act like a normal cat – and I often refer to myself as a SPaz because of my spastic muscles, I decided to call him Jimmy dSpaz.
Well, he spent the first 12 days at my home really living up to his name. The HS told me to confine him for three weeks until he knew mi casa su casa, so I fenced off his new home in the hay part. First thing I noticed on our arrival was his loud purring. I took him out of his carrier and he wanted me to pet him — this wasn’t the scardy cat I’d seen in the HS. This guy was affectionate — and so grateful to be out of his rotten cage at the HS! I did notice he seemed scared at the sound the horses made…”hum, he’ll get used to it.
First three days I fed him, gave him clean water and gave him some small petting – not too much because I didn’t want him to bond with him, ya know? This guy had a job to do, period. Day four I went in the morning to feed him but he was no where to be found.
“Jimmy… here kitty, kitty,” I said in a loud, but pleasant sounding voice. From a distance I heard the faint cries of a cat meowing. I followed the sound and discovered Jimmy half way up a 100 foot fir tree a couple hundred feet up the hill from the barn. I figured if he went up, he could come down. Didn’t happen. I opened a can of tuna, leaving it at the bottom as a way to bribe him down. Morning, noon and evening for the next nine days I tried to coax him out of the tree, even leaving a can of tuna at the bottom to entice him. No Go, in fact he went even higher, going all the way to the top where I was sure he’d become fodder for the eagles. Finally, the evening of the ninth day he came down to about 50' off the ground. I took tried to coax him down the rest of the way, but no go. He spent last night in the tree again at the half-way mark. When darkness started falling again I was afraid he was going to starve to death up them, plus so irritated at hearing his pitiful cries I decided it was time for me to rescue the boy.
I trudged up the hill with a 6-foot ladder so I’d be able to stand on the top to reach the bottom tree limbs. I then weaved, climbed and pulled myself up through the spindly branches so I could snag the cat and bring him down. Keep in mind this was a fir tree. The branches are close together but they are short and thin so I really had to hug close to the trunk.
As I struggled to maintain foot and hand holds while climbing up my thoughts turned to, "This is so stupid, this cat's going to panic and scratch the heck outta me" and "I AM so stupid ... I have MS, numb feet and hands -- and I'm a fat old lady,-- what am I DOING 50 feet in the air??!!!
My strength started giving out and body started quivering. A branch broke underfoot. As I hung there and tried to get another I thought, "Oh great, I'm gonna fall and break my back because I'm trying to rescue a stupid cat who is probably too dumb to know how to kill any mice!
I finally reached Jimmy, who, fortunately, was purring loudly and happy to see me. Thinking ahead about how I was going to get a cat I didn’t know down the tree I’d brought a rabbit leash which makes a harness around his neck and front legs. Now the dilemma was how to climb down without the cat scratching my eyes out — and leaving both hands free to descend. I tried putting him on my shoulder, but that didn't work because dug his claws in me to make sure he was safely perched on there. With the help of the leash I was able to lower the frightened screeching cat, claws outstretched, to a branch beneath me. Then I’d lower myself a branch, lower Jimmy, myself and so on.
Finally, we made it down to the bottom and plodded back to my house. Just as I was climbing over the 4-foot wire fence into my yard my stepfather let the dogs out the door. Jimmy clawed and struggled to get away from me and those wretched dogs. Would ‘a lost him, too, if weren't for the leash. While I screamed at the top of my lungs for the dogs to stay back, I dragged the now hissing, spatting, clawing cat into the old rabbit run and locked the gate. And whether he liked it or not that is where I planned for him to live the next week.
Th, tha, That's all for now folks!