At one time, there were, give or take, six—yes, six—cats in this house.  That was, so to speak, the high water mark, but the tide seems to have receded rather precipitously lately.

See, I started out, innocently enough, with just one, chosen from a litter just out of town advertised with a sign that said, “Free Kittens”.  He was orange and white, cute and a lover of just about everyone.  But I thought that he ought to have company and when I spoke with an organic farmer who said that a mamma cat and two kittens had been dumped there, I went to rescue the sole survivor of that unconscionable act.  She was wild as the wind, totally infested with fleas (which I sat in the farmyard driveway with a comb and flea stuff to get rid of as much as possible), scared to pieces and sure that I was hauling her away to impending death.  Cat #1, Dauntless, thought she was a toy and about ”played” her to an early demise but she survived, while showing quite a few PTSD symptoms; her name, since she had a definite Asian look about her, was Thai.  The two of them shared the house—I was there by permission—and adventures of various sorts until Thai was taken by kidney failure.

Dauntless looked like he could use company again, so, God help me, I allowed myself to be inveigled into taking in three sisters from a semi-feral litter out on Shawnee Trail, one at a time.  They were each possessed of a totally different personality—the Welcome Wagon cat who wanted to meet everyone, the fading movie queen who still expected star treatment, and the recluse, who mostly stayed in the basement.  Dauntless thought that I was nuts for bringing these whippersnappers in and fairly promptly, checked out for better accommodations at that Big Lap in the Sky.

So now there were “just” three cats…until one Fourth of July.  On the way to Hiram to see the fireworks, something ran across the road as I was going down Carlisles’ hill.  It was a kitten, apparently tossed out by some miscreant.  I stopped, went back and found him in the ditch, mewing and scared.  He was feisty, however, and didn’t want to stay in the only container that I had, a fabric shopping bag.  The two of us went on to watch the festivities with Mayor Bertrand, then home.

Next came Bob, so called because he only has half of a tail.  Who knows why.  That’s how he came to the house, along with his brother Jack; they were both black but Jack took off—I tell myself that somebody has him and he’s happy.  Bob’s a Munchkin, undersized but nobody’s toy.

Finally, there was Champ.  He just sort of appeared one day as a kitten on the front steps and settled in as “the new guy” just fine.

Well, two of the sisters have walked out, separately, without a “by your leave” or a wave of the tail, heading for the aforementioned Big Lap.  Champ apparently decided to escape to the Big, Wide World and hasn’t been seen at all lately.  Bob has had his very own adventure…and decided to share.

I went to the back door and saw Bob sitting at the bottom of the steps looking unhappy and  speaking to me  in unhappy tones.  I said, “What’s the matter, Bob?” and went out, down the steps and looked at him more closely.  Holy   cow!  Some critter had taken a chunk about the size of a fifty-cent piece off his left hip.  Looked terrible.  The only good thing was that it seemed to have stopped bleeding at some point.  Picked him up, took him in to rinse off the wound and swab it with antibiotic cream, then call the vet—GAH being his personal health care provider.  When we got there, they sent me away to do something constructive while Bob had surgery.  When I returned to get him, there were staples holding his back end on and there were instructions on what to do and not do during his recuperation.  Nobody consulted Bob…or at least he wasn’t listening, because he had very definite ideas about what he was going to do or not do.  He was not going to lie down, he was not going to wear “the cone” around his neck to prevent licking and scratching of stitches, he was not going to be held down in any fashion until the re-enforcements that I called in from the neighborhood (Thanks, Mark and Matthias) wrapped him in a comforter with just his head sticking out.  And once “the cone” was on, he made totally wild cat struggles to get it off, any way that he could; he was eventually successful.  He hid out for a while in the basement but I closed off his favorite hidey-hole and he gave up trying to get in there.  The house and the comforter are both bloodstained; some of the blood is his, some of it is mine.  He did pause long enough to drink and to eat some food with his pain medication sprinkled on it.  Then I decided that Bob was going to live or die on his own terms and I wasn’t going to be able to do much about it.  I left him to be about it.

So now Bob has his mat that he lies on, he eats his food and medicine, he doesn’t seem to be disturbing the staples in his rear end, he lets me scratch his head and tell him he’s a good boy.  He probably still thinks that he’ll get to go out soon but he’s wrong  about that…I think.

So…only three cats left.  But the local feckless mamma has stashed at least three new ones under the front porch.  What’re the odds of the cat-count going up again?

Don’t lick that, Bob!