REQUIEM FOR A DESERVING UNKNOWN FERAL CAT AND HER KITTEN
I seldom share my grief in public, especially during this Free Farm campaign, but for the emotionally charged event of today this will be an exception.
I first saw this robust calico cat the other week, darting in and out of my cattle yard. She was skittish at best, refusing to even allow me more than a mere glance. But I saw her. She mattered.
The thought of rescuing yet another stray did not seem like an option. I mean, when is enough ENOUGH? I had one hundred cats and kittens to tend to with mounting vet bills and endless food supplies to further a fast track to absolute financial ruin. Not to mention the incredible amount of associated work and responsibility.
I hesitated. Then, as fate would have it, yesterday, inside the hay barn I walked in to find a family of half a dozen young kittens darting away. The calico cat had given birth to a litter months earlier without me finding out. And a brutal winter was about to rear its ugly head tonight. Oh no. What to do now?
Being as I am with a profound belief in the idea that compassion without engagement is useless, I decided to attempt to catch the family.
It wasn’t to be. On my daily dog walk today, I found the mother and one of her babies dead from a car impact alongside of the road.
I spent the rest of the day reflecting on my lack of taking quicker action. That cat, a calico, was the trademark cat of my friendly neighbor, Sarah who has since passed on. She would tell anyone who would listen how she loved calico cats.
Sarah had her own brand of caring. Basically, she allowed any or all neighborhood strays to come and go in her cottage house. Her windows and front door remained open year round. No litter boxes. No neutering, no medicine, not a single call to a vet. Just allowing nature to take its course. She amassed what neighbors tell me was hundreds of cats, most of whom were run over on the highway that separated her property from mine.
When I first considered buying my waterfront farm, I saw two kittens, both of which appeared to be injured, one of which was bleeding. Calicos of course. The previous owners of my property told me they were strays and they fed them from a distance. Not to worry old boy, I was told, they would be tended to in the farm sale.
The following day I asked about the kittens. “Oh, they were sick and died,” replied the elderly owner.
I put my foot down and told the couple that unless they caught the two kittens, alive, I would not even entertain the very idea of buying their farm.
Mysteriously, the following day I received a phone call informing me the kittens were in a cage awaiting my visit!
The local vet informed me that each of the kittens required a leg to be amputated and it would cost three thousand dollars, up front of course.
I decided to pay the bill but as luck would have it, a young couple saw these adorable creatures and wanted to adopt them and would pay for the operations.
After I moved onto the property I would find endless calico cats, a number of whom would give birth to litters that were in varying conditions of health, enough to keep me busy before my animal kingdom grew. I paid for all of this and found homes for many of the cats.
It appeared that this colony was rife with inbreeding, something that is very popular in Lanark county in general.
Sarah was well known. She was extremely attractive and made sure you noticed she had a very engaging large set of breasts. They were often exposed when you met her. She was known by a lot of local men you could say. As an elementary school teacher she got herself entangled in a secret affair with the principal but when he tried to end the brief indiscretion his wife left him and he ended up marrying Sarah the animal lover. She became a hoarder of things and of animals. When I met her she told me she didn’t own a single cat, that locals would drop them off and out of kindness she would merely feed them. Mind you, she once confessed to me that she also kept the odd calf in the bathroom during the biting winters to avoid attacks from coyotes, in her new digs, a waterfront dilapidated cottage. She had a fetish for cows even though many kept getting out of her poorly fenced pasture land and getting run over by local trains. She was no longer living in her grand Victorian brick house across the street as it had been condemned by the local government. Almost eighty, with hundreds of cats and the same number of cows, she allowed a local troubled handyman to live with her in exchange for helping out. He was half her age and evidently fit enough to run the menagerie.
She kept up her hoarding lifestyle with the occasional interruption of local mental health authorities slowing her down and the odd raid by the police department and the OSPCA. But this was her life god bless her.
She and I had differences about how to care for animals. In her world, learning that hundreds of her cats were run over was processed in a cavalier manner, as if to say, this was their fate and acceptable to Sarah. Paying nothing for their care didn’t bother her in the least. She was thrifty with her millions.
It’s hard to be self righteous about the situation. It is what it is. The unnamed calico I buried today was one of the few I must have missed when I rounded up all of her cats. I was told earlier in the summer that she was about to be institutionalized and her live in was about to inherit all of her numerous farms and personal property, that he wanted the cats put to sleep and had called the OSPCA who planned to come and comply with this request.I arranged a quick visit to see her and in a legal fashion she signed over the care of all her animals, including her poorly tended to guard dogs (which I have since found homes for).
I felt a need to make a difference to these cats in particular and touch wood, under the supervision of two vet clinics they are doing well, forty kittens to boot. (Remember, when I caught them half were pregnant! )Adoptions are now possible to good responsible homes.
Why write this you might ask. I suppose there is a little bit of melancholy in me at this time, having just returned from burying the unnamed mother and her child. There is no anger, just acceptance that life, especially with regards to animals, is not always fair.
In terms of my Free Farm campaign you might wonder, exactly what has happened?
Have you ever woken up one day and thought that FOR SURE you had the perfect solution for some overwhelming challenge that you were faced with?
Well, I did. I thought with fifty million clicks in the social media mayhem that broadsided me that I couldn’t possibly miss at finding a suitable candidate. I would succeed. Guaranteed. Just a little discomfort to weed through the endless contestants.
But I could not have been more wrong. I wasn’t successful, which may turn out to be a good thing after all. Right now, I have hired and continue to look for paid help to assist the onslaught of work here in this unusual, perhaps insane world I have created. And I’ve come to terms with the more than 17,000 applicants who did their best to persuade me that they were my answer. I now find it rather a comedy of errors or an error in comedy. The experiences were rich and moving and unquestionably engaging material for a hilarious book, which I am now busy preparing.