We’ve Been Adopted


A bit wide-eyed and spooky yet.

We lost a cat a couple of months ago. She had adopted us a couple of years earlier (people don’t adopt cats; cats do the adopting). Ranch cats often have fairly short lifespans, especially if they are left out at night. Raccoons, owls, coyotes, foxes, wolves and bobcats take a heavy toll. Many farmers and ranchers just let nature take its course and keep a constant supply of new kittens coming up. My sentimental side is not comfortable raising kittens that have an average lifespan of 18 months. My hard-nosed side sees excess cats as a financial drain, a disease reservoir and hard on the bird population. We prefer to neuter and bring the felines in at night. Our cats nearly always live well into their teens.

“Helping” Dad put in a new shower head.

Without cats, rodents become a problem. The rattlesnakes hunting the rodents are a more serious issue. We usually operate on the live-and-let-live principle where rattlesnakes are concerned. Finding one coiled up in the front yard or looking for breakfast in a feed sack, however, is a little more up close and personal than I care to get. Four mature cats, actively hunting in the vicinity of the house, seems to be what it takes to keep things in balance. With Cee-Cee’s death, we were down to three: Black Cat, Radar and my daughter’s cat, Sage. Black Cat, at 17, isn’t a hunter any more. He spends almost all of his time sleeping, preferably in the warmest spot he can find.

Keeping an eye on Radar, who wants to play.

Some people actively look for a new cat; we’ve found all we have to do is wait. In over 40 years of ranching, all but a few of our cats have simply showed up and adopted us. The practice of dumping unwanted cats and kittens in the country (which I consider reprehensible behavior on a par with child abuse, genocide and similar undesirable human activities) means there are nearly always replacement cats coming along. The truly feral cats, sadly, can rarely be tamed. Those we shoot; cats will quickly overpopulate and can decimate bird populations (including your baby chicks). They also tend to have hungry, miserable and very short lives. Dumped cats, however, have quite often been socialized to humans by their irresponsible owners. Rather than spay or neuter, these (expletives deleted) drop them off in the country about the time they become sexually mature. Bewildered, betrayed and starving, they quickly become predator snacks or road kill.
We knew there had been a cat dump recently, as we had seen several unfamiliar cats around. The last time this happened, it was the barn cats of a neighbor. Said neighbor was a severe alcoholic and it finally caught up with her. Her long hospitalization and ultimate death left her property and cats abandoned. Apparently no one in her family gave a thought to the cats. Cee-Cee adopted us, one adopted my daughter and said daughter found homes for two more; the others simply disappeared. Three days ago, a new face showed up. Literally skin and bones, her neck and ears loaded with ticks, and her fur in mats, she responded when hubby called her. He fed her, she was more than willing to be petted and allowed herself to be picked up on the second day. She was thin enough that she’d probably been dumped a couple of months ago, but she had also clearly been around people enough to be well-socialized. She looks like she’s about a year old.

OK, this is a safe spot. I think I’ll keep him.

As of this morning, Athena – so-named because she has a clear facial resemblance to the goddess’ favorite bird – is sleeping under a dining room chair. The boys have made friendly overtures; she’s deciding whether she will accept them. She ate first when I fed them this morning. We’ve been adopted, and hubby is now under the the paw of a new cat.

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