Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Cat Tale

No, this tale isn’t about the black and white cat that inhabited my garage for a week in April. That kitty moved on; a few days after she moved out, I saw her walking through the cow pasture across the road.

A week or so after the black and white cat left, a little orange cat took up residence on the deck. This kitty—from his size, I figured he might be four or five months old—wasn’t in good shape. (I assumed the kitty was male because most orange cats are male—just like calico cats are female.) One eye was so covered in gunk, it was hard to tell if he even had an eye. He was snotty. He was rail thin, dirty, and scratched a lot. I could see a tick on his face. He drooled. I feared rabies. Luckily my cats avoided him.

For two weeks Little Orange Kitty mostly slept. He stayed on the low end of the deck where he could escape if anyone came near. He wouldn’t let me get close. I left a little cat food out, but I think Ruby the dog ate most of it. But I saw the kitten drinking water, so I figured he might not be rabid.

One evening about ten days ago, I was planting stuff around the gazebo. Little Orange Kitty left the deck, walked down the driveway, stepped into the gazebo, and looked me in the eye. “Meow,” he said—the first time I heard him speak. I followed him back up the driveway, got some cat food, and watched him eat. And eat. He had trouble chewing and he still drooled.

I fed Little Orange Kitty regularly after that. Once, after he ate, he came into the garage and up to the back door. His “meow” sounded like Oliver Twist saying, “Please, sir, may I have some more.” I gave him more. He ate.

Soon he became friendly. Purring friendly. Rubbing around my legs friendly. I tentatively touched his back. He didn’t shrink from the touch. I thought maybe I could get him fixed up and find him a home.

Before long I could pet him. I contacted Diane Novak, the Barn Cat Buddy lady, who suggested some places I could take him for inexpensive (relatively speaking) vet work.

Meanwhile, I started wiping his eye a couple times a day. I crushed some cat vitamins and put them in milk. He began looking a little better. Not great, but better.

I ended up taking him to my own vet today when I took Maggie and Hubert for their shots. When the receptionist asked for his name, I said Oliver. Upon official vet inspection, Oliver had several teeth missing, which might account for his chewing problems. He also had an upper respiratory infection, a leision on his tongue, and a gum infection—all symptoms of feline leukemia. We decided to do the blood test. If Oliver tested positive, I’d have the vet euthanize him.

While we waited for the test results, the dogs got their shots and John then took them to the truck. I waited alone for the test results. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be taking Oliver the little orange kitty-boy home.

Then the vet came in with the news. Turns out, I wouldn’t be taking Oliver the little orange kitty-boy home after all.

But wait—there’s a strange twist to this story.

To make a long story short, I took home Olivia, the little orange FEMALE CAT.

The news was that Oliver—er, Olivia—passed the test, but he was a she. Orange females are rare, but the vet said he’d seen others. He could tell by her remaining teeth that she was over a year old. She hadn’t had kittens though—probably because she’d been in such bad physical shape and had starved for so long. He checked for a scar to see if she’d been spayed. Nope.

He treated her for fleas and ticks, vaccinated her for rabies and distemper, and gave her a shot of a long-acting antibiotic to help her respiratory problems. In a couple of weeks, she’ll be in good enough shape to be spayed.

Olivia, after the trip to the vets. See, she's still a bit on the scruffy side.

Good appetite, though.

And that's the tale of this particular cat. . .

. . . and the tale of how I happened to acquire cat number six.




Blogger Sally Roseveare said...

Olivia may be sickly, but she's smart. She knew where to go and had the sense to stay. And you are definitely a sweetheart for taking in number six!

3:53 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

I agree with Sally, Olivia is one smart kitty. They know who loves cats. Our cat Oakey adopted us in a very similar way. It took her two weeks before she'd let either Shannon or me touch her. But now she is one spoiled rotten cat! She sleeps in the garage and Shannon gives her warm milk every night before he goes to bed. Hmmm. I don't even get that!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Oh Becky, you are the best! What a great story!

10:17 PM  
Anonymous claudia said...

I had a cockatiel for 8 years named 'Oliver'..
I got a grey one, a female I thought to mate with Oliver...Oliver layed an egg and became 'Olivia'...
Its official, your a cat lady..I am down to 5 after Emily passed...all rescues as well...
She's a lovely little girl, and will bring you joy.

9:14 AM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

Tender heart!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Going with the flow said...

Thank you for speading kindness and sharing this story. Made me cry, knowing that God provides many ways for us to share love within his creation.

4:21 PM  

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