Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: feral cats

Memories of Panda

Panda was our number one furry friend for over 15 years. We got her from a street cat rescue program when she was about six months old. She was part of a litter of long haired black cats found in an abandoned car in a back alley. She grew into a magnificent Maine Coon cat and lived with us in our last three homes.

In our first home, she would perch on the back of the couch, part the vertical blinds with her paw  to look out on the driveway and watch for our return.

She was the same age as our oldest grandchild and all our grandchildren learned from her that gentleness and kindness were the  keys to inspiring trust.

After spending hours at the computer I would turn around and see her on the floor quietly watching me. As soon as I made eye contact she was on her feet leading me to where I kept her brush and comb. A little time spent grooming her made her happy and gave me a needed break. She loved to be vacuumed, the air current through her long hair must have felt good.

The first evening afterwe moved onto this acreage she went outside to explore. When she didn’t come back we went looking for her with flashlights. We went all over the yard, searching and calling her. Finally we gave up and went back to the house. There she was, calmly sitting on the front step, as if to say “Where have you guys been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

I like cats because they are free. They could survive as feral anaimals but choose to make their home with us. They don’t often come when they are called, but when they feel like it they will jump on our lap and purr contentedly.

If I accidentally stepped on Panda’s tail or paw she would give a loud squawk, but that was all. She never believed that I had done it deliberately and it didn’t affect her trust in me. She would calmly sleep through sudden loud noises and commotions in the house, but if a can of salmon was opened she would wake from her sleep, wherever she was, and show up to ask for a share.

Yesterday we took her to the vet and had her put to sleep. Over the past few months she has lost weight until she was just skin and bones. Her blood pressure was high and her kidneys were failing. The vet gave us medicine and at times it seemed to be helping. Finally we had to face the reality that the things we were doing to try and relieve her distress were only causing her more distress. It is a relief to know her suffering is over.

I hope that I have learned something about respect and trust from my relationship with Pand that will transfer to my relationships with people.

Cats and compassion

We share our home with three cats. Each one came to us as a feral kitten at about six months old. This summer they will be 15, 7 and 6.

They are dependent on us for shelter, food and affection. They tolerate each other, but don’t appear to really like one another, though Pookie will let us know when Angus wants to come in. But as soon as Angus is in the door Pookie acts like he wants to fight with him. They never do each other any harm, though.

Angus came home twice with a bloody ear and now has two neat v’s notched on his right ear. My wife thinks he was scrapping with some other neighbourhood cat, but he showed no other battle wounds. I think that both times he probably lost a game of tag with the magpies.

They appreciate the comforts of home, having a special preference for the two recliners or the two office chairs, which happen to be our preferred seats also. They often interrupt our work with loud demands for food, for brushing or to be let outside.

Our laundry centre is located beside the hallway between the office and kitchen. Every once in a while we will hear Angus calling loudly. There he is, on top of the washing machine and wanting one of us to come and pay him some attention.

Two of the cats shed a lot of hair; we are often awakened in the middle of the night by a cat wanting to go out. The only reward we get is knowing that they like us and feel secure being in the same room as us. And nothing can compare with the contented purring of a cat on one’s lap.

Despite their annoying habits, we love our cats and think most of the distractions are good for us. Which leads me to ponder: am I as compassionate towards the people around me as I am towards my cats?

The sedate, the frolicsome and the frantic

We have three cats and the words above describe their personalities. Panda is the oldest, we consider her to be the same age as our oldest grandson, which means that six weeks from now she will be 13. She was part of a litter discovered in an abandoned car in a back alley in Saskatoon and taken in by a cat rescue operation. We had to pay for her. We assume from her large size, long hair, the ruff around her neck and her serene personality that she is mostly of Maine Coon cat ancestry. She is all black.

Her personality fits well with the elderly couple who share this house with her — my wife and I. We both spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer and when we feel a need to get up and do something more energetic to get the blood flowing again, Panda doesn’t lift an ear. She will come several times a day to where I am working and sit patiently until I take note of her. As soon as I make eye contact, Panda is on her feet and heading towards the kitchen, her ears laid back to hear if I am following. She stops at the place where we keep the comb and brush and waits for me to pick one of them up and come and groom her.

Pookie is our youngest cat, a feral flame point Siamese who showed up half-starved on to our doorstep when he was about six months old and has never left. He is the bounciest and friendliest of our cats, still likes to spend as much time as possible outdoors, but comes home to sleep. He has a little patience and seems to get it when we are too busy to jump up right away to see what he wants. He is the smallest of our cats and has stayed quite lean because of his exuberant lifestyle. He does not like to be picked up, but if we sit on one of the recliners and put our feet up, he will probably jump up on our lap. He is very agile, his jump seems effortless and he lands like a feather.

Angus is our middle cat, a little older than Pookie, black like Panda, short-haired like Pookie and mostly Siamese in conformation. We called him Angus because he is all black, but he looks more like a panther than a cow. He is much bigger than a real Siamese, but he definitely has the personality. Everything is an emergency with Angus. He will not eat unless one of us is in the room with him. If there is food in his bowl, he won’t touch it until we add a little bit more to let him know it is for him. If he wants to eat or to go out, he becomes almost hysterical, running back and forth and meowing frantically. For that reason, his name often come out sounding like Anguish or Anxious.

I am convinced that our cats are beneficial to our mental health and our physical health. They are certainly distracting, but we need those distractions. They are amusing and affectionate and that too is good for us.

Our oldest grandson tends to be quite impulsive and has been known to be rough with his siblings at times. But he has a cat that he dotes on. Before his cat was full grown, it was bitten by a dog, breaking one of the hind legs. He was worried sick about that cat. His parents took it to the vet and she did the best she could, but said that the break was so close to the growth plate that the leg would probably never grow as long as the other and the cat would have a limp. She did better than she knew, the leg is just fine. This is an outdoor cat, but our grandson often brings him in and holds him on his lap. The care and patience he shows with that cat gives me confidence for his future.

More about cat #3

Cat number three is Pookie, an almost two year old  flame point Siamese. He is our most antsy and most vocal cat, but usually settles down mid morning for a good sleep.

Yesterday he was much more antsy than usual. I really believe that he knew my wife was out in that storm and was worried about her. Chris wondered if perhaps he was reacting to my nervousness, but if I was showing any nervousness the other two cats didn’t notice it.

Cat number two is Angus, an almost three year old black short hair who shows a lot of Siamese influence. He is Chris’s cat and shows all the anxiety of a Siamese. I didn’t mention him in yesterday’s post because he slept all the time that Chris was gone.

Cat number one is Panda, large, black, long haired, of mostly Maine Coon Cat ancestry and almost twelve years old. She demands special attention several times a day, wanting to be combed and brushed. Her behaviour  yesterday was completely normal.

Pookie does not like to be picked up and never sits on our lap unless we are in one of the recliners with our feet up. Yesterday was the first time he ever jumped up on my lap when I was sitting at the computer. Even then he would not settle down.

At the last, especially after I went out and cleaned the snow off the steps and walk, he seemed to know that Chris was on her way home. He went and sat on the bed in our spare bedroom, not to sleep, but to watch the entry way so he would see when she came in the door. Once she was home, he found one of the cat beds sin the living room and slept the rest of the afternoon.

This is the feral cat who showed up on our doorstep one day, half grown, half starved, fully expecting to find a home. When I opened the door, he calmly walked in. I had never seen him before, but I suspect he had been watching for awhile and knew this was a cat friendly place. Never underestimate the intelligence of a cat.

 

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