Saturday, September 29, 2018

Time to Lighten Up (And Tell a Cat story)



Transport to Fort Providence residential school is only the beginning of their ordeal, for the teachers believe it is their sworn duty to “kill the Indian inside.” All attempts at escape are severely punished, but Yaotl and Sascho, along with two others, will try, undertaking a journey of 900 kilometers across the Northwest Territory. Like wild geese, brave hearts together, they are homeward bound.

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Okay, this is a cat and cat "owner" story. I'm in  need of some relief from increasingly Dystopian reality. Maybe you are too.




We recently acquired a new cat. "Willeford" (who came up with that?!) is a used cat, so, as they say about cars, he's only new to us.  He arrived from a kill shelter in a nearby county, a nondescript gray tiger, eight years old and all busted up and weak on the back end.

Yes, not only is he an elder cat, but he's also a "busted" cat. When we first got him, he couldn't even uncurl his tail. He could take zero pressure from a hand gently stroking his hips without sinking to the ground. He's gaining strength after these months of happy release from the rescue cage in which we found him. Someone may have stepped on him, as he's one of those cats who imagines his people can see in the dark. I've narrowly avoided falling over or stepping on him quite a few times in the last months.

At our house, he's been able to run up and down stairs for therapy, to leap onto beds and chairs and cat furniture for cuddling and combing. His injuries no longer preclude his jumping onto the kitchen counter to demand a faucet water drink, or, his personal favorite, a glass filled to the brim with water set beside us on a desk or table for our convenience--at least that was the original plan.




Willeford has turned mostly into William, or Willy. When he's a real sweetie, it's WILL-YUM-YUM, or just YUM, for short. Cat names often start out grandly, but, I've found, quickly morph. We once had an elegant feisty black female named "Bast-Ra" but that eventually became what our youngest child could pronounce at the time, which was "Bap."  "Bap" it remained, even after he could say Mom's fancy original.

Willy came with more than a few unusual feline behaviors we've never coped with before. For one thing, at first he was super needy. I spent the first few hours he was home, lying in bed with him where he hugged and kissed and rolled all over me, all while purring and drooling like a mad kitty. He non-stop kneaded any body part he could reach. I stayed because I didn't want to leave him in such a state, so I was just a quiet cat mom for him until his anxiety wound down.




He spent the night with me and for most nights following, though I can't say either of us got much sleep, as he spent the time crawling all over me and purring. His favorite resting place, because I am a back sleeper, was on top of my face, chest down and with his cat "elbows" digging into my neck, so that eventually my throat would close. Then I'd  choke and have to push him away. I've tried all sorts of strategies to get him to accept other more acceptable (to me) sleeping positions, but it's literally taken months to get him sufficiently relaxed in order to do so. Now, we share a pillow, though I have to be firm in order to keep enough to accommodate my skull. Even now, sometimes, he'll wrap his kitty arms around my head and then drag the rest of his body close into a wrap-around. It's like a fur "face-hugger" and the mental image is not pleasant.



Big Feet

 Almost a year in and his behavior is slowly changing. Some time in the summer, he made a decision to decamp to some spot more distant, perhaps onto the foot of the bed, or into bed with my husband whose larger frame accommodates his weight and sharp elbows better. It gives us both a breather, although I have to admit to liking the creature comfort of a cat pressed against the torso on cold nights.

We have no idea what went on with his last human, but, as Willy'd arrived at the shelter starved and "from the streets,"we came to believe that his person had died and that he'd been summarily cast out to fend for himself. No wonder all the anxiety, poor guy!

Willy remains an early to bed type of cat. That is, initially, at 7:30, he started calling and then leading us toward the stairs, clear as anything saying "Time for bed."  My husband jokingly remarked that was the time when Jeopardy(c) ended, a classic bedtime for the senior senior. (Yes, I meant to say "senior" twice.)

He likes to play, but he's rough and isn't always careful with his claws or his teeth. At first my legs and arms were covered with scratches and puncture marks too from Sorry! OOPS! I-lost-my-head-for-a-minute bites. Our other (also crazy) cat really doesn't get him at all, and she gets scared and won't play chase as he would like, so now and then he bullies her because it's the single fun feline interaction he can get.

Sometimes I wonder if we should get another younger cat which could possibly break up their negative game by the addition of a third player. Another cat might provide  a playmate for the energetic Yum. Should we do it? But as every cat mom knows, #1 there's a husband problem to be solved even before the inter-cat relationships can be solved

Our family has managed as many as five kitties at a time and done a decent job, but we're not getting any younger or any richer, and taking proper care of animal companions requires funds as well as love/time. We're approaching the end of the trail here, and the last thing any elder pet "owner" wants to imagine is that their beloved friends will be cast onto the street as Willeford was.




 ~~Juliet Waldron

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The Esteemed Right Worshipful Prioress S.R.D. meets Willeford.









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