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Monday, October 13, 2014
My Cats and Dogs by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
My Cats and Dogs by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
have always loved cats.When I was a
child we had a gray cat named Smoky. He slept with me most nights and greeted
me at the door when I came home from school. When he was outside and wanted in
he jumped up onto the narrow ledge of the front window and sat down looking in
until someone opened the door. We had him many years and then one day he became
ill. My parents tried to cure him but nothing they tried made him better. He
lost weight and they finally decided to take him to the Pound and have him put
to sleep.It was a cool autumn day when
they put him in a box and set the box on the floor of the back seat. Mom and
Dad and we four kids went to the Pound to drop him off. It was a sad day and we
each took turns saying goodbye.
But he proved to be a tough cat. On a
cold winter morning when mom opened the drapes of the front window, there was
Smoky sitting on the ledge. She quickly opened the door and let him in. We
never found out if he had gotten better at the Pound and escaped or if someone
adopted him and he left them to find his way back to us. He lived another three
years before finally dying.
We then got brother and sister tabby
kittens and I named them Salt and Pepper. They were still around when I married
and moved away. Due to my first husband not liking cats and my son being born
with an allergy to animals, I was unable to have indoor cats. However, after my
daughter was born a collie dog showed up in our yard and we had ourselves an
outdoor dog. Over the years my second husband, Mike, and I had outdoor cats and
dogs but I disliked that they had to stay outside during the cold winter
Shortly after my son’s eighteenth
birthday he came home with a Cockapoo pup which he was not allergic to. When he
graduated in the summer he headed to college and left Chevy with us. Chevy grew
to be about twenty pounds. We had him seventeen years before we had to put him
During that time Mike and I rescued an
abused and starved pup while on holidays in northern B.C. He was about the size
of our little cockapoo and on our two week jaunt home he slept on the bed with
us and Chevy. When we got home I thought Modie would be an outdoor dog. The
first night he howled so long and loud that I let him in the house but made him
stay at the back door landing. That wasn’t what he wanted and he continued
howling until I let him onto the bed where he settled into his spot with Chevy
and us. Even when he grew into a 130 lb, dog he insisted on sleeping on the bed
During the day Modi followed Chevy
around and grew to idolize him. However, Chevy was less than happy to have
Modie in our family and would turn and snarl at him. Modie thought Chevy was
playing and would run around him excited. If Chevy ignored him, Modie would
trab his tail and pull him backward to get his attention.
Our house had a three bedroom basement
suite that we used for family get togethers and when family and friends came to
visit. Because my son was allergic to Modie we kept the door to the basement
closed so he couldn’t get into it. Since my son was already allergic to one of
my animals I decided to get a cat. A couple we knew in the country had a stray
kitten show up at their place so I went to pick her up. It was a striped tabby
just like the two cats we’d had when I was a teenager. I named her Salt.
Just after that, my sister, Gwen, got a
male tabby and called him Pepper. When she got a female tabby she called her
Saltina. Unfortunately, Salt left us one day and never returned. Mike suggested
that I go to the SPCA and find another cat. I brought home two female cats. One
was a ten month old tabby that I named Saltwo and the other a three month old
gray and white kitten that I called Saltry. So we had two dogs and two cats but
then we had to put Chevy to sleep. Not a happy time in our household.
One day Mike noticed an advertisement in
the newspaper that was looking for a home for a cat that had been left by its
owners when they moved. The cat had survived the winter outside and the people
who found it already had three cats which was the limit allowed per house in
the city. I phoned and then went to pick up the cat. It was a short haired
orange tabby which I named Red. We were now a family of two adults, three cats
and one huge dog.
So those were the animals we had when we
moved from Edmonton to Vancouver Island. We settled on a small acreage and put
up a fence so Modie would remain in the yard. Red and Saltry liked to explore
our acreage as well as the neighbours. Saltwo was more inclined to stay close
to home so it was a real surprise when she got into some poison somewhere and
Once I had recovered from her loss, I
called the SPCA and asked if they had any cats for adoption. One had just come
in. They needed a few days to check her over and then I went to pick her up.
She was six months old and a long haired orange tabby. I decided that I had one
orange tabby named Red so I named my second orange tabby Purple. Saltry took
over from Saltwo as the head of the pride (not sure if that is the word for
domesticated cats) and the others acquisitioned.
The next year when I was doing a book
signing for my first mystery novel at Comox B.C. While waiting for me Mike saw
some cats at an SPCA display. He took me there after my signing. He had looked
at a long haired white cat but I found a tortoise shell cat and decided on her.
Her name was Molly and she had been born in the SPCA and was now two years old.
She had never been outside except to be taken to these displays. When we got
her home I changed her name to Daisy.
Daisy had lived in large cage with three
other cats and was used to cats coming and going in her life. When she saw
Saltry she mewed and went over to her. Saltry was not that friendly with
strange cats and hissed and swatted at Daisy. Daisy stopped in surprise and Saltry
walked away. Daisy next tried Red who was a bit standoffish but friendlier.
After a couple of days, Red had taken Daisy under her wing and was grooming her
and they were sleeping together. Purple didn’t really care that there was a new
member to the family.
It didn’t take her long to figure out
how to go in and out the cat door and she was soon enjoying her taste of
About a year later I looked out onto our
front deck and saw a skinny, long haired orange tabby eating the crumbs from
Modie’s treats. I went out but she took off. I found a small dish and put some
cat food in it and left it on the deck. The next day I saw her eating from it.
I went outside to talk to her but she scurried through a hole in the skirting
under our mobile home. I called to her and heard her answer but she never came
out. The next day was the same but this time I went to another opening under
our mobile and talked with her. She answered me and slowly came to me. I picked
her up. She was so light, it felt as if she weighed about three pounds although
she was a full grown cat. I carried her inside to the pails of cat food I leave
out for our cats. She ate but then left again. The next day she was back and
this time after she ate she allowed me to carry her into our bedroom and lay
her on our bed. Over the next three days all she did was sleep, eat, and use
the kitty litter. She became our fifth cat. Even though I was naming our orange
tabbies after colours, this time I couldn’t think of a colour that suited our
latest addition. She was quiet, demure, aloof and just wanted to be left alone
so I named her Lady
By this time Modie was 13 and had very
bad arthritis. He was overweight because we had had to stop our walks, and was
having a hard time walking and standing up when he laid down. We finally
decided it was time to put him out of his misery. Mike took him to the vet and
two days later we had his ashes.
So we were left with five cats. Three
years later Gwen’s cat, Saltina, died. A few weeks later Gwen was at our place
and Lady spent the night with her. Gwen said that if we ever had to get rid of
Lady she would take her. We offered Lady to Gwen and she accepted. So we are
now down to four cats, the same four cats that my husband and I are now on a three
month tour with through the United States.