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Cats Hold Grudges

As many of you know, I am feeding four feral cats. That number shifts up and down as new ones move in for the free groceries and others move out for whatever reason. Right now the number is four regulars, two red tabby cats and two solid black cats. All four are neutered and wear clipped ear tips to signal that. They live outside all year. They do have a place to go in bad weather, an old chicken coop I converted to a “cat house” complete with warm bedding and even a small space heater in cold weather.

The two tabby cats are from a litter their feral mother “gifted” me with back in 2006. There were originally six, but through attrition, we are down to four total. I have two and a neighbor down the street has two more from that same litter.

One of mine, a short hair I named “Sugar” because of her sweet personality, bonded with me before any of the others. She is a very intelligent cat, but she holds grudges.

Sugar and I have a ritual. When I put out the garbage at night, she waits for me, and as I walk back to the side door of my house, she follows and meows to me. She wants attention. I take a seat on the steps, and she hops in my lap for a scratching. She especially wants me to massage her ears. I surmised from this that she has ear mites and bought some eardrops at Jefferson Feed to treat her.

The directions called for treatment twice a day for five days. I laughed at that. There was no way she would allow that. I figured I might fool her twice at the most. I was right. The first night, I slipped the small squeeze bottle in my pocket, and Sugar and I did our ritual dance. She hopped in my lap, and I whispered sweet nothings in her ear as I scratched her and eventually moved to massage her right ear. With my free hand, I reached down and retrieved the bottle of ear mite drops, and without her seeing it, I eased it up and squirted some in her ear.

There was a brief moment of confusion where she must have been thinking “What the…?” before she bolted like she was shot out of a cannon.

One down.

The next night, I was hoping she has not yet associated that “unpleasant experience” with me. She hadn’t. She was waiting for me, as usual, and hopped up in my lap. I stroked her and whispered sweet nothings again as I eased up to her ear and massaged it. Once more, with my free hand, I reached for the bottle of ear mite med and gave her a squirt. This time there was no “what the…” moment. Gone!

I figured that was the end of the treatments at least until I could win her confidence again. My plan was to do our little evening meet-ups for a few nights but not administer any meds, and maybe—just maybe she would forget about it, and I could sneak in at least one more dose.

Nope.

As usual, she came to me the next night, but the second I touched her ear, she decamped post haste.

It rained for the next two nights, and Sugar didn’t show. I wrote that off to the weather. On the third night, it was a nice clear evening, and she was waiting for me. Our little ritual went exactly as it always had, and she followed me over to the steps and waited for me to take a seat. But this time, she stayed out of my reach and took a seat about four away and glared at me. Yes, she glared at me. She had the distinct expression on her face that said, “You won’t fool me again.” No amount of cooing and coaxing could make her change her mind. She remained seated and glaring at me.

Then she did something I was not expecting: She stood, turned around, and sat down again with her back to me! The ultimate cat insult.

Cats hold grudges. And Sugar still isn’t speaking to me.

 

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Two-Bits

Two-Bits was my cat. I was about six when he came into my life. He was a pitiful black and white kitten roaming the street behind Kenner High School and in danger of being run over by a car. I wanted to bring him home, but my grandmother, who picked me up at school, would not allow it. I told my even more soft-hearted mother about the kitten, and she immediately went and retrieved him.

And much to my dad’s chagrin, we owned a cat, or more accurately a cat owned us. MB claimed he hated cats, but either he got over that or he was lying because he seemed to take to Two-Bits. In fact, he is the one who named him Two-Bits.

Two-Bits grew to be a big old, handsome, butt-kicking tomcat, and like most all tomcats, Two-Bits would go “tomcatting.” He would disappear for days at a time and come home somewhat lighter in weight and usually battle-scarred. He would stay home on R&R for a while to rebuild his vitality before he would go out tomcatting again. I imagine old Two-Bits had hundreds of progeny around Kenner.

Alas, my mother decided to end his tomcatting days, and Two-Bits made a short trip to the vet to returned minus two body parts. That was supposed to solve the tomcatting problem, but tomcatting was so ingrained in his psyche by then that the fact he no longer had the necessary “tomcatting equipment” didn’t even slow old Two-Bits down. He continued to tomcat the rest of his days and come home with just as many scars—albeit without leaving any more progeny around Kenner to carry on his heritage.

I don’t recall how long he lived or even when he died, but he was still around when I was a teenager and dating Janis. That would put him at ten years or better.

Two-Bits had the run of the house, and he exercised that privilege to its fullest. He went wherever he wanted and pretty much did whatever he wanted to do. That fact shocked Janis when we were eating a roast beef poboy at the kitchen table one night. She was not accustomed to having a cat in the house, so Two-Bits was a bit of a cultural shock for her. His actions were especially shocking that night when he jumped up on the kitchen table to investigate what we were eating. Janis freaked out and so did Two-Bits. They both decamped from the table. Janis and I had cats after we got married, but they were NEVER allowed on the kitchen table or countertops.

Two-Bits was an important part of my childhood, and I do miss him even after all these years.

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Filed under Family History, Kenner