Saturday, August 2, 2014

Never Say Never

Barney on his closet pallet

After my last house cat died in 2011, I vowed never to have an indoor cat again. A couple of friends and my grandsons are allergic to them, for one thing.  For another, I got tired of clipping toenails and putting tape on carpet edges to prevent them from patting out biscuits wherever they pleased.  I had several barn cats to enjoy when I felt the need for kitty company.
What I hadn’t counted on was the casualty rate of my barn cats. Through the years, I’ve had half a dozen that I spayed and neutered. All but two have disappeared. Barney, my first, took up with a former tenant a couple of years ago. They fed him, renamed him Ming because he has so much Siamese in him. When they moved, they left him behind, knowing I would care for him.
I couldn’t get him to leave their former home, however. Twice I took him to the barn, but, as the old Sonny James song said, “The cat came back.” Finally, I hit upon a bright idea to re-acclimate him to the barn. I assembled my Mastiff’s wire cage, put a blanket, water bowl and food dish inside, along with a small litter box (it IS a Mastiff’s cage, remember), then somehow wrangled Barney inside. I released him three days later.
Low and behold, he had bonded with the barn again, so he stayed. That is, as long as the other barn cat, Mittens, wasn’t around.  It got to the point that I’d only see Barney every four or five days. He was my all-time barn cat favorite, perhaps because he was the first or just because he was such an affectionate kitty. So I decided to bring him indoors next time I saw him.
Last Saturday, I spotted him in the pasture, got him into my car, took him home and enthroned him on my bed. I put water and food bowls in my bathroom, and an old litter box in my whirlpool bathtub. I have no shame.
For a cat that has been living in outside all his life, he sure has taken to the indoors. He sleeps in my closet during the day, with me at night. He comes out for petting and rubbing against me whenever I enter the room. Sometimes, I take him to the Great Room and let him watch television with me, much to the chagrin of my dogs. Otherwise, he’d never leave the room.
Eventually, I’ll unbar the cat door and train him to use it, thus eliminating the need for a smelly litter box. I’ll also move his food and water dishes to the laundry room window ledge, which the dogs can’t reach. However, before I moved to the country, my city vet told me to keep the cats indoors for a month so they would become accustomed to the house and its smells. That’s all well and good, but I’m headed to Peru. My tenant  will keep an eye on my house, but he has enough to do without cleaning a litter box. I can’t start Barney’s kitty-door training, either, because the dogs would probably chase him out and he’d never come back.
So what do I do with him? Board him at the vet, of course. It will cost $128, plus another $50 for exam and shots. He’s a bit behind, because my former tenants never took him to the vet.

The things we do for our animals.

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