Stray cat strut by Deb Meredith

I grew up on a farm, and we had rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, chickens, horses, dogs and cats at different times during my childhood. But we did not have house pets. All animals lived outside the house. So I grew up romping with dogs, not walking them around the block, and petting cats on the porch. whose main job was to take care of rodents in the barn.

My husband and I were reluctant to get any pets for many years. We both liked dogs and cats, but we were afraid that pet ownership would make it difficult to travel. But that was before we moved to New York and got a mouse problem in our loft.

It had rained for five days straight, driving the rodents from their holes. And they moved in and set up residency in our loft. The first night, they bit open a bag. We awoke in alarm to the sound of pistachio nuts flying all over our kitchen. My husband bravely charged down the steps of our sleeping loft, only to confront a mouse with serious New York attitude. The mouse looked up from the nut he was chewing only briefly and then went back to business. We needed help. Serious help.

We found our two adult cats through a veterinary office/shelter in Chelsea. Beavis was the kitty in the window whose job it was to charm people (he is a black cat, but is very Siamese). My husband fell in love with him right away. And the people at the office told him that they wanted him to be adopted with another cat—his cage mate Creepers (a black and white tuxedo cat). Creepers had been found on the street, and they estimated his age at a year and a half. He had had every ailment imaginable when he arrived, and had been cured of them all during his time there. He was a mangy cat with giant bare patches on his hips and raggedy ears. They told us he had been burnt, and we were horrified that someone could be so cruel.

We were still a little wary about the whole thing. “Can we bring them back if it doesn’t work out?” we asked with a wail. They agreed, and we took both cats home with some trepidation.

Creepers spent the first night climbing on the pipes (15 feet above the ground), and crawling up into our metal ceiling. Not a great start. We shook his dry food dish until he finally came down. And then we spent the next few hours taping up every hole in the ceiling. Beavis was a complete scaredy cat, starting at every sound, and spending a lot of time hiding. But eventually both cats relaxed, and we enjoyed watching them play and wrestle with each other.

Creepers has really blossomed in the last 9 years. His fur filled out, and he grew big, handsome and healthy. We almost lost him in January, and discovered we were willing to pay a fortune to keep him alive. He and Beavis are part of our family. Creepers never misses story time with our son, and often stays in our son’s bed until he goes to sleep. Then Creepers’ comes into our bed, where he sleeps with his head on the pillow between us (Beavis likes to sleep in the crook of our knees).

Our pets wormed their way into our hearts and beds, and we are happier kinder people for having them. And we’ve haven’t seen a single mouse in 9 years.

8 Replies to “Stray cat strut by Deb Meredith”

  1. I love this post, Meredith! We had shelter/stray cats all my life, until I left home and turned allergic. They all brought their own personalities. And we didn’t have much of a roach problem, as gross as that is!

  2. We have a cat (diabetic) and golden retriever (pretty dopey). But the one time we had a mouse issue, the mouse trotted right in front of the cat who looked at it, then at me (screaming and standing on the table), and then hopped up on her bed. The cat had no interest in the mouse. The dog however enjoyed chasing the mouse all over the place.

    We rely on Orkin to keep us mouse free.

  3. How funny! Not every cat is a mouser, Judy. When we moved into a new place, the owners warned us about their mouse problem. They had a rottweiller who just watched the mice skitter by. Our cats were certainly up to the task, though, and we never saw another one.

  4. I’m so glad you brought home shelter buddies. My youngest and I worked at a cat shelter for a while, and I fell hard for two of the kitties. One had been feral, so big and so mean that only the head of the shelter could put a food and water bowl in there, with long-armed gloves. Over time, they put him in a room with the “barn cats”–usually formerly feral cats who probably could never live inside a home, but were great mousers. He became best friends with another cat and soon he was so kind and gentle that even my young daughter could hold him and stroke his fur. After about 6 months, a woman adopted him and his friend and they were very happy to live in her barn and feast on mice.
    The other one had been horribly abused. I can barely ponder the awful things that were done to this sweet cat. He and I became good buddies, and I was sorely tempted to bring him home, but that we already had far too large a menagerie as it was. He finally did find a home and despite the cruelty imposed upon him by other humans, he was able to trust again and settled in happily.
    In the meantime, our pound kitty is about as awesome as they come. Only problem is she loves to be outside and returns home every so often with “retreat” injuries–i.e. she’s fleeing an aggressive feral cat lurking in the woods, and gets sliced up on her hind quarters. and then she hates me because I’m the dispenser of the antibiotics…

  5. We have three rescue dogs and no mice. Lizards don’t stand a chance at our house either.

    I think rescues are the best by far. They know how lucky they are and give you lots of wet kisses every day to remind you how lucky you are.

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