Thursday, August 23, 2007


No big surprise here, I’m sure, if I admit to being much more of a dog person than a cat person. Even so, I’m always happy to hear cat tales that warm my heart.

Some of them come right from my family--well, my husband’s family. Fred grew up on a farm in Ohio, and there were always cats around, primarily feral. In those days, with all the grain kept around, having cats helped to keep the rodent population down, so the family wouldn’t feed them but would encourage them to stay around. When Fred was a child, he would milk cows and occasionally point the udders in the direction of the kitties, who’d get a really fresh drink. Then, he would leave milk in an old hubcap for them to lap up later.

When I met his family, they had a shed in the backyard that they called the “cathouse.” By then, they stored less grain but had gotten into the habit of feeding the cats who happened to hang out on the farm. They also generally brought one at a time into the house as a special pet. My two sons, who visited the farm often, helped to feed the cats and got to see many a litter of newborn kittens. My younger son, Keith, often chose which of the kittens became the housecat. Since the feral cats must be brought into the house early to become pets, Keith would pick up a kitten and bring it inside, then help to train it.

The cathouse is still there, and it’s still a place where feral cats are sheltered and fed. The current housecat is a real character. Her name is “Beadie” or, actually, B.D., short for “Black Diamond.” She was my father-in-law’s constant companion, always curled up in his lap, plus he would roughhouse with her. Very vocal, she always let everyone know what was on her mind--going outside, coming in, demanding dinner, whatever. When my father-in-law passed away almost 2 years ago, she mourned along with the rest of the family. She didn’t understand at all when his special chair that had helped him stand as his arthritis got worse was given away. Now, much gentler, she has a special relationship with my widowed mother-in-law.

In fact, Beadie enjoys having conversations with my mother-in-law--and being the center of her attention. One evening, Mother was reading the newspaper, and Beadie began complaining. Mother started reading the paper aloud to her and Beadie curled up in her lap and went to sleep.

Then there’s the story of a cat that my husband’s brother saw just a couple of months ago on a visit to the farm. This one was having a showdown with a deer, and neither one appeared to know what to do about it. Eventually, the hissing cat strutted away.

Yes, I know these stories show my vicarious, and not personal, interaction with cats. I enjoy cats, but with all the dogs in my life I’ve never seriously considered becoming owned by one.

Maybe one day I’ll also use this blog to describe the felines who rule my Los Angeles neighborhood.


Deb Baker said...

A feral cat moved into our garage in the spring. I thought it was great considering all the mice hanging around (I'm out in the country, near fields) until a wise friend explained that the cat must have kittens. Sure enough, up popped tiny heads from the rafters. Judging by the size, they'd been living in the garage for awhile. I tried to make friends with them so I could take them to a no-kill shelter. But they were already too wild. I couldn't get near. They were so cute, but disappeared a little later, probably following mama into the woods. Hope they made it.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Okay, you had me at "meow" with the cat stories! I'm a total cat fancier, my husband not so much. But he has bonded with one of our three cats, the only one who seems to appreciate his brand of play. He likes to put socks, pieces of paper, etc., on top of the cat when it's alseep. The cat doesn't seem to mind, but I was wondering about this game--only to discover that there's an entire web site called "Stuff on your cat". Who knew?

Kathryn Lilley said...

By the way, the web site for Stuff on My Cat is:
Too funny!


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