Some people are dog people, some are cat people. I am a both people. So I thought I would share a few of my “cats and dogs, living together” stories on this Christmas Eve.
When we finally got out of apartment living and into a house, we had decided we wanted a dog. And eventually the Duffer came to live with us. Duffer was a purebred Cairn Terrier (think Toto from The Wizard of Oz) who we got from a coworker that could no longer have a pet. I never thought I would like a small dog, but Duffer changed my mind. He had the best disposition and temperament, which really helped when cats decided to become part of the household.
SQUEEKY AND LC
One night outside the carport door there was this hoarse, rasping sound. I looked out and there was this kitten looking at the door and making this sound. I figured it was just hungry, so I put a little bowl of left over clam chowder out for it. Not only did the poor thing not sound well, he didn’t look well either. He was scrawny and his eyes were filmy. I figured he would eat and move on, not hanging around the yard because of the dog. I checked a little later and the bowl was empty and he was gone. But he came back the next night. This continued for a few nights until one time as we were opening the door to leave, the cat scurried inside the house. I went after him, a bit worried about how the dog would react. The cat went right up to Duffer and head butted the boy, and Duffer responded by licking the kitty’s face as if to say, “my brother.” So much for cat vs dog crises. We kept the cat, nursed him back to health and called him Squeaky because he never could meow, he just squeaked.
We picked up LC when she was a kitten a couple of years later. Taking pet population control seriously, we had set an appointment to get her spayed. Unfortunately, at the time we did not have a pet door. Of course as I was letting the dog out, LC streaked out of the house and into the night. She later had 5 kittens. The vet had told us to set up a nice box for her to have the kittens in and serve as a kitty nursery, and so we did. A few days after, I was laying in bed taking a nap when LC came up with one of the newborns in her mouth and dropped it right on my chest. She went and got another one and did the same thing. As she was going to get the third one, I scrambled to figure out what the heck she was doing. Thinking that she might not be liking the box she and her family were in, I took a chance and went and opened one of the closets. Call me the cat whisperer, because I had hit the nail on the head. She took the next kitten into the closet and put the rest of them in there as well, and that’s where she stayed until they kittens were old enough to come out on there own. They were the cutest things. I was tempted to keep them all, but 7 cats and a dog seemed to be a few too many. We were able to find them all good homes.
I eventually became a practical man and installed a pet door for all the convenient reasons there are for having one. But one of the side consequences of having one is that the house became a haven for some of the other cats in the neighborhood. I first noticed this phenomenon when I was up late watching TV. I heard one of the cats eating some dry food back in the laundry room. However, when the cat came out of the room, it wasn’t one of mine. As soon as the cat saw me see him, he took off on a mad dash to the pet door. On another night, I was up reading when I noticed a cat coming out of the guest bedroom. Again, this cat was not one of mine. I noticed that Duffer was lying down in such a way that the cat would pass right by him in order to get out the pet door. As the cat walked by Duffer, the Duff raised his head, sniffed, and then lay his head back down with kind of a snort as the cat sauntered on out of the house. Over the months I had managed to see 5 different cats that didn’t belong to me wander in and out of the house, apparently with the blessing of my dog and two cats.
MOSE THE CAT
In the course of the years, Duffer and Squeaky passed on, and we added Hillary to the family, getting him from a little girl giving away free kittens. Then came Mose. We named him Mose after a character in the movie “The Searchers”. In the movie Mose was an old Indian fighter who wanted to finish his days in a rocking chair by the fire. That’s why Mose came into our little family, I think, to finish out his days in the warmth and comfort of a home. Mose was an old, stray cat. I believe he at one time had been domestic, but had been cast off at some point. I don’t know how old he was, but he was pretty beat up. His ears were all torn up, and there were scars and bare patches in the fur from all of the fights and scrapes that Mose had been in. I first discovered Mose in the front yard. One day he showed up and was laying in the flower sill on the front of my house. He was laying there every day for weeks. I finally decided to put a bowl of dry food in the sill with him. I did this for a few days when Mose sort of disappeared. He did show up later, but much to my surprise the next time I saw him he was laying on the living room couch as big as life. Over several days he gradually let me get close to him and allow me to pet him. The other cats were curious, but basically ignored him. I eventually took Mose to the vet, where he was diagnosed with various ailments. After determining that it was safe for Mose to be around my cats, he was given shots and medication which got him as well as he could get. Mose definitely liked the company of people as he spent much of his time curled up in my lap or my wife’s lap. He lived about 3 months longer, not having to scrounge for food and passing his remaining days in his own version of a rocking chair by the fire.
The pet door is gone and the cat hotel is closed. Hillary couldn’t go outside without getting into a fight and after $1,000 surgery to fix an eye, I figured it was cheaper, and healthier for him, to keep him indoors. He has a little sister named Amelia. They are both asleep close to me as I write this, ready, I am sure, to help in anyway they can.
Merry Christmas and have the best of holidays. I hope it is your version of a rocking chair by the fire.