Last night my husband and I were pleasantly surprised with the return of a huge furball laying on the back deck railing. This furball is gray with white patches and looks at you with piercing yellow eyes. He is known to be temperamental and does not always allow strangers to get near him. When he was small, he was a loner and seemed to be satisfied playing alone, chasing his own tail (or anything else that he could find to chase). This behavior was so bizarre in fact, it earned him his name… Psycho Kitty. Psycho Kitty was born a wild cat in our shed. He grew up with his siblings on our family farm. Over the last 10+ years he has been roaming the local countryside returning home on an infrequent basis. At one point, he was gone for several years. When he returned, he seemed well-fed and healthy. This time he is moving a little slower and his once agile walk on the deck railing is showing his age. He does still recognize us, however, and we have been enjoying his company ever since. The questions remain though. Where does he go? Does any other farm family enjoy his company while he is gone? And how does he know where ‘home’ is? (Short of placing a GPS tracking device on him and interviewing every neighbor or learning how to speak cat, these questions will probably never be answered).
Allowing a family pet to roam may seem strange (or even neglectful) to some people. You may ask, “Why don’t you bring him in the house?” or “How do you know he is finding enough food to eat?” The answers to these questions are simple. Psycho is a country pet who has always lived and roamed freely outdoors. He is still wild enough that we cannot even pick him up without getting scratched and clawed. He would not know how to act if he were brought inside, a place where the conditions might be safer but would also be much more limited and confining. This farm and the surrounding countryside is loaded with opportunities for hunting small game and includes a fairly large creek (and 2 backyard waterfalls) that provide water and additional wildlife opportunities. And if the hunting attempts are unsuccessful, we also provide a food dish that is refilled twice a day. One look at Psycho Kitty’s body size and you know he has been a very successful hunter indeed.
Psycho Kitty’s return prompted me to begin thinking about all of the cats we have loved and lost over the last 27 years. This number is too many to count. You see, I married a man who loves cats. When the cats are small, he will pick them up in his arms and turn them over to scratch their bellies. All the while declaring to me, “Look. Mom. Isn’t he cute?” Who could resist? Before long, I am working hard to bond with any wild cat that finds the community food dish.
Thinking back over the years, I can remember cats that we have successfully adopted with such names as Tom Kitty, Hootie, Big Ole Little Tom, Kittie, Rat, Nutmeg and Furball, just to name a few. All of these kitties were (or are) loved. And each one had a personality all of his or her own. Many enjoyed accompanying me into the garden while I worked. Several even enjoyed sleeping under the hammock when I took a break. All became accustomed to the sound of my voice and one came running to that sound even if she was a quarter of a mile away! Each one has provided love and friendship that I, personally, will always be grateful for. Family pets truly are one of life’s greatest simple pleasures!