Hodgepodge: Scaredy Cat
by Charlie Hodge.
Scaredy Cat ain’t so scared anymore, and Oodie Pooders likely approves.
Last time long term HodgePodge readers were tuned into the Hodge world of cats, Scaredy Cat was a relatively new house member. In fact, she was a yard and occasional shed occupant, years removed from ‘house’ status.
Regardless, suffice to say the diminutive Heinz- 57 variety slim kitty is now more than comfortably crashed on her special pillow next to my computer as I whap out this column. The deep sleeping, fully stretched out tummy exposed, one paw over her eyes, purring pussy exudes a much calmer, controlled and even calculated persona from that of the paranoid frantic, fighting fur ball of fear that wandered into our world four years ago.
It was in July when Scaredy cautiously introduced herself to me. For a few weeks I’d noticed a tiny, skinny feral cat hanging around the perimeter of the yard. At first I assumed she was simply the pet of an irresponsible neighbour and so ignored her.
In general I’m not big on feral cats nor people who believe their pets should be allowed to wander the neighbourhood. If you want to have cats, wonderful, but keep them indoors and not in my yard eating birds or using my raised garden beds as a litter box.
For a few weeks the skinny cat hung out on the property perimeter, watching and obviously hoping for water or food. After a few days of intense heat I knuckled and gave her some water. Game over.
The next day since I’d seen signs of mice around I intentionally left the shed door open hoping she would check it out and scare away the mice. Mistake number two.
A few days later we left town for a weekend and upon returning discovered Scaredy had accidentally been trapped in the garage for the weekend. A few hours later I discovered the four kittens.
The SPCA informed us if we agreed to let mom stay in the garage for eight weeks until the kittens were weaned that they would help with the necessary shots for the kittens and makings sure mom would not produce a further litter. Only then would they consider taking in the four kittens.
Teresa and I agreed to not keep any of the four kittens since we were tired of raising pets and kids and were looking forward to just spoiling ourselves for a change. That theory lasted less than eight weeks.
At first Teresa asked if she could keep any of them. I suggested that was her choice since I was not expected to live a long time so the commitment was hers to make. She decided to only keep the female kittens.
All four, we discovered soon after, were male.
When the eight weeks were up Tez said it was up to me to decide which of the four cuddled up brothers were to be given away and which would stay wrapped in each other’s arms and tails. We now call them Trouble, Chaos, Bandit, and Fluffy Little Bear and our life has never been dull since they moved in upstairs. As cat-people we love our house bound menagerie and are rewarded with chuckles and entertainment because of their role in our lives. Like many pet-dependent adults our cats are our latest round of children. They help make our house a home.
Scaredy, meanwhile, was never calm or gentle enough to move into the upstairs. In addition after separating kittens from their mom for the purpose of giving them away the veterinarian suggested not putting the kittens back with her since feral parents tend to attack their separated youngsters. (If we had known we were going to keep them all we never would have separated to begin with).
So for the next two years Scaredy and her wild side resided in the shed. Attempting to pet her was a gamble since she did not trust humans and her razor sharp claws made that clear. While others left her alone, I consistently but patiently encouraged Scaredy to let me pet her or be in her company. Day by day she would spend more time in the garden or yard near me.
For many years a previous feral cat I shared my world with, (a memorable Calico-Manx named Oodie Pooders) had routinely been my garden cat, following me everywhere and rolling on all new plants to make sure they were in the ground. I think Scaredy had watched from a distance because soon after Oodie died, Scaredy stepped in.
Last January while I was in hospital Tez decided to allow scaredy into the empty basement to keep warm. By the time I returned home Scaredy had become relatively comfy in her new digs. I moved into the basement part time as well for those nights when my oxygen machine is too loud.
For the past five months Scaredy not only follows me everywhere in the house and garden but the attack scratches have stopped and the trust level increased on both our parts.
This morning I awoke with Scaredy cat laying on my chest purring like a well oiled engine.
Scaredy is not so scared anymore.