Saturday, October 29, 2005

Black Cat #4

He's in the house.

I spent a very long night checking on him every two hours, standing on the snow-covered deck in my sleepshirt, holding the cat-flap open with a broom handle and trying to convince him to go inside. On the plus side--it was a clear night and the stars were magnificent. Mars burned down like a huge ember all night long and a few hours before dawn, the crescent moon rose in the east.

On the negative side, under clear skies, the temperatures dropped to the mid-teens and the black cat looked forlorn, huddled in weary shock in the cat condo. I know he has been living outside for years but he must have dens to retire to when the weather gets too bitter. When I went back up to bed, I dreamt all night about the black cat in various scenerios--escaping the pen, turning out to be friendly, etc.

I had a moment of hope this morning when I went down about eight and couldn't see him in the enclosure but as I leaned closer to look, I heard his hiss--he was sitting on top of the litter box on the lower level, not readily apparent to the casual eye.

I had *so* hoped he was inside, being comforted in a warm crush with Grendel and Skinny. That did it--he had been locked up for twenty-four hours and it was time to get him to move inside. I got dressed and collected a curtain rod and a roll of duct tape. From the inside, I taped the cat flap open, then went outside with the idea of prodding him into going through the door.

He surprised me. (Well, he had been surprising me for the last month-and-a-half, but this was sort of special...) When I reached the curtain rod in through the chicken wire to touch him, he rubbed his face against it! That inspired me to run the rod down his back, and he arched into the metallic caress. That de-railed my thought processes enough that I stood by the cage for several minutes, stroking him and speaking to him in a quiet voice. I wasn't going to prod him with sticks after a demonstration like that. Perhaps he isn't as totally feral as we had thought.

So, I went upstairs and talked with Denny and we formed a plan that he would open the cat condo and hopefully prompt the black cat to go through the cat door, and I would use the broom handle to try to keep him from retreating into the far corner. After a small amount of initial resistence, the black cat obliged us by dashing into the spare room. By the time I got inside to bar the cat door from the inside, he had vanished behind the plywood plank and was--indeed--huddled with Skinny and Grendel.

So--he's safe, he's warm and he is among friends, whether he appreciates that yet or not...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Panda

Went to Soldotna today for another doctor's visit for Denny. Stopped by GF's house in Kenai before heading back to Homer, where I met their new cats and checked up on Panda. She is a magnificent creature--years removed from the feisty little kitten I found that dark October morning nine years ago.

What a string of circumstances led our paths to cross: had I not been working that morning, had she not cried, had I not heard and recognized her cry. At first she sounded so much like a bird that it took a moment for it to penetrate the early-morning fog of my brain. It was too dark, too early for birds to be calling. I followed the sound to the parking lot across the street and called out. The tiny black-and-white kitten came out of the woods, frantic for attention, looking for someone to save her from the cold and the hunger.

I snatched her up and took her inside, where I found a can of tuna in my locker. She attacked it ferociously and growled when I touched the plate to replenish it. Who knows how long it had been since she had eaten? I went back out to search for more kittens but never found any (though I went back to look for several days.)

Later that morning, a blizzard hit. Denny had to come into town to pick up me (and the rescued kitten) at work. By that point, tummy full and safe at last, she was nestled under my coat and slept the whole way home. Seeing her now, I mumble a prayer of gratitude to whatever destiny caused our meeting.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

A cold morning...not only frost on the deck but *ice* on the puddles. Many of my potted plants are still blooming like champs but I definitely need to do some preparation for winter, like moving the perennials into the greenhouse, cutting back the herbs and harvesting the catnip.

Since Denny did the cat boxes for me last night while I worked on some paperwork for him, I had the morning free to do other things--like shower, do some vacuuming, and play a bit on the computer. When the thrill of all that paled, I took a bucket of hot, soapy water out on the deck and washed the bird feeders. The chickadees and nuthatches chafed at the delay but I'm sure they will appreciate the clean, fresh seeds. Lola's Dad hung out at the edge of the deck in the shadow of the alders watching.

Once or twice I heard a strange sound--almost like rattling springs on an old pickup truck--coming from the back of the lot. Finally, I saw the fluttering of wings and realized I was hearing spruce grouse. Denny took a walk out back earlier this morning and startled one--or more truthfully, it startled him. I haven't seen any ring-necked pheasants yet this fall but I heard one crowing before I left for work, so I know they are out there.