Monday, June 26, 2006

Rescued Pets - Hawkeye

On a cold, snowy day in December, I guess it must have been 2003, I happened to be out at Pioneer Village. It was Sunday morning, and most of the folks who had been there for the weekend had left. Four of us were wrapping things up, letting the fire burn down to nothing, and finishing up some leftover stew. I heard a cat meowing around the building we were in, so, being me, I had to go open the door and see this cat.

There had been brief glimpses of a young cat throughout the weekend, as it kept away from us, I think particularly the various dogs. There are several houses just down the road, so I didn't think to much about it at the time.

Into the cabin comes this black/grey young cat. Striped, except, no, not really striped, spotted. Interesting coloring which I hadn't seen before. Subtle, but pretty. He's so cold he's shivering, and under that lovely fur is the skinniest cat I've ever held. I can feel every rib, ever bump in his spine. There is no collar, and no one would keep a cat so skinny. Someone must have dropped him off. Some people do that, you know. Take animals out into the country and just put them out of the car and drive away. Apparently not caring that these small creatures, dogs or cats, almost never have the skills needed to survive on their own. This young cat, apparently about 6 months old, was dropped off in the winter.

We put out the last of the stew for him to eat, which he seems to really enjoy. After he has eaten he got up on the stones of the fire ring, huddling as close to the heat of the dying fire as he could.

I couldn't leave him there. He would be dead of cold or starvation in just days, if that. We didn't need another pet, already having 2 dogs at home. Well, I couldn't leave him, so I brought him back, hoping to find his home. Maybe someone hadn't dropped him off out in the country to "be free". Maybe he'd wandered away from home and some family was desperately looking for him. So home he came with me. I packed up the van and put him in.

He was apparently unshaken by being in a vehicle, got off my lap wandered around for a minute then lay down on one of the blankets in the back to doze. When we got home, he stayed in the van for a bit, watching as I unloaded. After a few minutes he jumped casually out and walked into the garage towards the house door.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've seen animals that haven't been in a building before. They stay carefully along the walls and are clearly uncomfortable. This young fellow, well, he just strolled on in like he owned the place! Good, that was one hurdle, whether he had been an indoor or outdoor cat. It was looking like maybe indoor.

Now remember, my husband and I had decided some time before that we had all the pets we need - 2 dogs. No cats at this time. And here I am coming home with this starving cat. I explain it's not to stay, just to try to find his home, or a new home for him. My husband sighs, but it's only for a few days.

I didn't let the cat go upstairs by himself. We have 2 dogs, and while they've been trained to stay inside a simple barrier, I didn't want to tempt them, or have a terrified cat dashing about the place. When he saw the dogs he hissed and growled, his tail puffing up, but he didn't otherwise seem too concerned. We had a litter box, from years before when I'd had cats, but no litter or cat food. Off we went to the store. You know whose lap he sat in on the way to the store, of course. My husband's! Down and back.

The little speckled cat happily ate the crunchy food, showing that he was familiar with that, too. For the night we put him into the bathroom with his litterbox, food and water, with something to sleep on.

The next morning I began my hunt. The cat has unique enough markings that if a vet had seen him, they'd probably remember him. Spots aren't that common. So I started calling. The first call I made the woman who answered turned out to live in one of the houses on the road to Pioneer Village! She was familiar with the little cat. She and her husband had been trying to cath it for a week or so, without any luck. The cat stayed away from their dogs. We determined that it's almost certain this little cat was dropped off to 'be free'. Poor thing!

Many phone calls later, to all the area vets and animal shelters, turned up nothing. No one seemed to be looking for this little cat. I even went on-line and put him in under the found section. In the mean time he was settling into our household quite nicely. He quickly learned that we wouldn't let our dogs chase him, so started to play with them. Everyone liked him. My husband started to say things like 'well, if we decide to keep the cat'.

It took about 2 weeks I guess before we really decided that we would give him his Forever Home. He's a really neat fellow. Very quiet, with a soft meow. He's even learned to trust people, and while he doesn't care that much for being held, he has decided to sit on our laps sometimes and purr.

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