Country Cats, Come to Stay

My mug is courtesy of my son, and I think my sister gave me the little tea guy. Just put loose-leaf tea in his pants, set him into the teacup hot tub and voila! Tea. Right now I’m drinking some loose leaf India black tea called Assam House Blend. It’s delightful!

Mr. Tea Guy is enjoying his hot tub, and I’m enjoying my hot drink on this cold day.

In the interest of sharing a bit more about myself here–I’m ready to ‘fess up about my cats, because, yes, my son may be right. I just might be “one cat short of crazy.”

Yes, we have too many cats.

I’ll be the first to admit it.

No, we don’t live in a house of squalor with a hundred furrballs. I like to think our house is in pretty good shape, all things considered. See, here’s the deal. We moved to the country from the suburbs. I had never owned a cat in my life.

We were dog people. Small dog people. We have our little Shih Tzu named Snickers who moved with us to the country and was our only pet.

Snickers, beloved pup.

That is, until I sat on our three-season porch one summer evening and heard a distinct mewing. With a flashlight and careful step, we located the little culprit—a black kitten with neon green eyes.

Finally, with a little string for enticement, my husband knelt down beside her and made friends. We allowed her on the porch “but not in the house.” Then, she was in the house. And in our hearts. We named her Kit Kat. Here’s a link to that story. We had her spayed and got her the shots she needed.

So we had a cat and a dog. Nice combo platter.

Sweet Pea helps with the Christmas wrapping.

Next, my husband was working in the barn when a full-grown black and white cat jumped up on his workbench and rubbed her head against his arm. “Hello sweetheart,” he said gently, and she purred. When he left the barn, she followed. When he got to the porch and entered, she followed. When he came into the living room, she made herself at home.

Two cats and one dog. He calls her Sweet Pea.

Pretty Petite, our “little one.”

We took her in to have her spayed, only to find she already had been. So she had belonged to someone. Had she been left? Had she run away or gotten lost? How had she found her way to us? No matter. She apparently was here to stay.

Then my husband saw in town a mama cat and three kittens, all in a cage on the front porch with the weather changing to cold. He knocked on the door and asked if he could rescue them.

Basket of kittens.

Six cats and one dog.

The kittens grew, mama wandered, papas in the area learned of some hot chicks (kits?) new to the area. Pregnant cats.

Kittens. Too many kittens.

Kittens given away. We took one set to a farm where kids come to play with the animals. Several got taken by a few acquaintances. More spaying appointments.


One more set of kittens.

Molly has a “mouse” and isn’t letting go.

We put out a sign offering “Free Kittens,” but in the Indiana countryside that’s like an Eskimo offering free snow in Alaska. So that set ended up staying around. A couple of those surprised us with having one kitten before we could get them spayed. One had kittens that we tried desperately to save, but they were just born too soon.

My husband rescued yet another kitten from the side of a country road. Mama and another kitten crossed over, but this one was nearly blind from gunky eyes and full of fleas. He took this little one to the vet to get him all cleaned up. We call him Little Bit—and he’s now our biggest and heaviest cat.

Little Bit hangs out

The numbers have fluctuated over the years as some have just disappeared—either victims of getting lost amongst the stalks of corn in the field across the way, or in the woods, or perhaps killed by a predator or a vehicle. That’s the sad part. I don’t like to think about it. But then, new ones arrive – twice we’ve had skinny, malnourished cats find their way to our doorstep and into our hearts. Both Mike and Molly are now healthy and well fed. At current count, we have eight cats. They come and go, but this is home.

So there you have it. These cats sit on my lap as I try to work, sit beside me on my desk waiting for me to put my face close for a nuzzle, lay beside me on the bed wrapped around my legs.

Bandit and Spanky are clearly bored with me.

I wouldn’t trade these little inspirations for anything.

So sure, maybe too many cats, but all of these have found their way to us and decided to stay. So am I a crazy cat lady? Perhaps. We take care of them. We love them.

Oh, and they are all currently spayed or neutered.

Because really, eight is enough. Because more than that? Well, that would be crazy!


Of Fields, Fireflies, and Furry Friends

Summer in the country. I fondly remember summer visits to my relatives in decades past when we would spend days at the dairy farm with Uncle Howard and Aunt Gladys and the cousins, and then with Aunt Dot and Uncle Homer on their acreage at the end of Pork Road. On those hot summer days, this suburban-often-moving-military-kid found a little slice of heaven. Where else can you ride a tractor, watch cows be milked, play a family softball game (with every member participating), ride a scooter at high speed across a field (and not get hurt when you dump it), and build a massive bonfire for cooking weinies and marshmallows?

Come to think of it, perhaps that’s why this little slice of heaven at Green Acres is so magical. When I watch my college-age kids and their friends play ultimate frisbee in our back yard, I’m grateful for God’s grace in providing this home with its–well–green acres.

This month I saw I two sights I have never seen before and they astounded me to the point that I had to stop my car and simply take them in (and both occurred on the same trip, same stretch of road). At this time of year, the cornfields are bursting with their green stalks (“knee high by the fourth of July”? Forgeddaboudit. These stalks already tower over me!). I was passing through along a country road between those lush fields following a rainstorm as the sun was setting behind me. I don’t know if it was the combination of dusk and the moisture in the just-watered fields or what, but the fields were literally alive with lighting bugs. I mean teeming with them. Millions of sparkles dancing at eye level, blinking, creating a visual feast of light and movement. I literally gasped. As I drove, the show continued until I stopped simply to watch, a lone audience applauding one of God’s one-act plays.

At the same time, a rainbow appeared–not just any rainbow but a rainbow where I could actually see both ends!

Big sky, massive rainbow, light show in the fields. Applause for you, God. Amazing!

And what would a Linda blog be without a furry friend? Last night as I sat on the porch at my computer (oh the joys of a home office), I kept hearing an incessant meowing. The TV was on in the house with no one watching (why is that?) and I thought the noise was coming from some sitcom. When I went to turn it down, the detective show with the guy being questioned in that little room in the police station was decidedly void of cats. Back on the porch, the sound continued. I opened the door of the porch and sure enough, something was meowing–something sounding very little and helpless. Armed with flashlights, my husband and I scoured the pond area where rustling grass gave away our little intruder’s whereabouts. As he/she dashed away, we caught a glimpse of a little black kitten, perhaps several weeks old–old enough to get lost but seemingly still calling out for momma.

He/she would have nothing to do with us (to avoid further using the annoying he/she, I will now name said kitten Blackie. Lame, I know, but it goes with “Buddy” and I like it and he/she was black, so there). Our soft tones and calls notwithstanding, Blackie fled across the yard. Several minutes later, however, Blackie was back, apparently enjoying the safety of our garden and maybe the comforting sounds of the little fountain and waterfall in the pond.

Another round of coaxing by said humans ensued, to no avail. We left a saucer of milk, hoping Blackie would at least take some sustenance.

The saucer was empty this morning. Well, perhaps Blackie will return? I’ll keep you posted.