Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Cat Story

My son is back at college and wants to know why I haven't blogged about our trip to the bowl game. My daughter just left for school, but wants to know why I haven't blogged about her cat. Since it was my daughter's birthday yesterday (she's 17!) I'm going to give her dibs.

To start with, you have to realize that we are required to have at least one cat. I'm sure somewhere there are barns without cats, but I don't understand them. When we first built ours, and moved the horses in, it took about ten minutes before we were inundated with mice. They ate the grain the horses spilled from their feed tubs, they nibbled seeds out of the hay, and they just generally danced around and made nuisances of themselves. I might not have minded so much--mice are kind of cute, and I always wanted a pet one, as a child--except that mice can carry diseases and also I was afraid that small rodents might lead to larger rodents, rats and such, which I was totally not ready to deal with.

I told my vet, Tige, that I needed a cat. An adult cat, neutered, with all four sets of claws, prepared to live outside. Tige's office is also the county animal shelter, so they nearly always have animals available for free. Tige told me he had just the cat I needed. When I showed up with my four-year-old daughter in tow, Tige came out with this teeny tiny kitten nestled in his palms.

I said, "Tige, that is not a cat."
Tige said, "but it will be."
My daughter said, "She's BEAUTIFUL!" and I lost.

That cat, Hazel, is indeed beautiful. She's also ferocious, nearly feral, and queen of all she surveys.

Until last Saturday.

Despite the fact that we also have a barn cat named Scout, who showed up in our bushes several years ago, and who my daughter loves, when her friend's cat had kittens my daughter started angling for a whole new cat.

I didn't really mind the idea--I'm pretty much always going to err on the side of getting another animal--but I wasn't going to lose points with my husband over a cat. I need to save those for animals that matter, such as getting-another-horse or look-free-pony. So I told my daughter it was my husband, not me, she needed to convince. I figured there was no way in heck. My husband's default value where extra animals are concerned is to say no whenever he can, because all too often he doesn't get a choice.

He said yes.  What he really said, I believe, was, "It's going to live in the barn, right? Then I don't care, I won't have to deal with it."

(I have bad cat allergies and asthma. All cats have to live in the barn.)

My daughter brought home this scruffy mostly-white kitten with black angel wings marked on his shoulders and a black dot on his nose. She named him Bucky, which is some sort of literary reference I don't understand. For a few days, until he'd gotten his shots and until the weather warmed above single digits, we kept Bucky in an old dog crate in the garage, with frequent outings for exercise, which is why my car is now covered in itty-bitty paw prints.

On Saturday we moved Bucky to the barn. He scampered about delightedly. Look! More cats! The other cats growled at him. He backed off, a step or two, then cavorted right past them. He got smacked. He didn't care. He ran up the steps to the loft and overall seemed very pleased with his new digs.

Sunday all three cats came running at the snick of a cat food can. Hazel dove into her can, only to be pushed aside by young Bucky. She started to move to another can, then suddenly came to the realization that she was giving way to a kitten who weighed less than two pounds. She reared back, howling, and brought both of her front paws hard onto the top of Bucky's head. Wham!

Bucky didn't flinch. He didn't even break rhythm chewing. Hazel, horrified, moved away.

That's the new cat story.