Thursday, February 17, 2011

Trouble Child

WANTED: Experienced cat owner in between pets, or maybe with one but no more, to take on the challenge of socializing a stray-feral cat. I have befriended him at the expense of my other pets, all of whom are "special needs" as they say: blind, elderly, infirm. Our new friend was badly injured when he came to us and is now on the mend. But his social skills need work. He is fearful and combative one minute, sweet the next. But he will, with a few week's patience, make a nice companion for the right person. 

     Here's the story: The Black Cat. We've taken to calling him BC. He's medium bushy with Simple Green eyes.  BC has been a fixture in the neighborhood for years. Everybody knows him, and his range has extended along more than a half a mile of our road. When he'd visit our house, he'd sneak in through the back door to snatch a bite from our cats' food table. If one of us saw him, or he saw us, he'd blast away in a blur so fast you'd question whether he was ever really there at all. At one point, he disappeared for months. I figured he was a goner, He returned two weeks ago, mangled and filthy, a gash in his throat, lame front paw and scrawny. I fed him. He remained aloof at first, but in time, grew to trust me. Within a week, the cat that nobody could catch or touch or even see clearly was letting me scratch his head. This is a cat that was a stray turned feral, not born feral. One fateful day, I grabbed him up, plopped him into a carrier and ferried him to the vet for a "day at the spaw," a snip (of his kitty gonads), a cleaning and disinfection of his wounds. He immediately peed in the carrier for fear, so the half-hour ride to town was aromatic.
     "Whoa! Un-neutered male cat there!" said Alison, the receptionist at the clinic, when we walked through the door.
     He's been back for several days now, getting friendlier with me but still terrorizing the rest of the family. It's obvious his roaming days are over and he's chosen to stay put. I just wish he'd stay put someplace else.
     My neighbor, who knows him and whose house he once frequented, offered to help. So yesterday, I took him there. Fresh tuna at the ready, we released him inside, only for him to literally climb the walls in a panic and try to jump through a picture frame. We'd have done it in a room, but she doesn't have any with doors. (It's a Puna-syle house.) So before he destroyed her place and hurt himself, we opened the door.  He's familiar with her porch, we reasoned, since she used to leave food out for him whenever she'd see him. He looked around, realized where he was, then made his way under the house, then under her car.
     "He used to sleep under there," she said. "Maybe he'll stay." When I got home, he was sitting on my back lanai with a look that asked the obvious question, "What took you so long?"
    We are not set up as an all-indoor cat household. Our house is well back from the road and the cats stay close. The house is tiny. They all come and go, in and out, freely, including him, which makes policing his rogue ways difficult.
     I remain armed with a squirt bottle and not afraid to use it, the best training tool for cats ever. That said, I was serious when I presented my original challenge. Hawaii would be best, and this island best of all, but I'll pay for plane fare and tranquilizers. I'll also take him in for a thorough exam at the vet, complete with vaccinations for anyone serious about working with this cat. It won't be easy, but it will be rewarding. I'll bet that in a week, he'll let you pet him. In two weeks, he'll be following you around the house.

Come on, cat lovers. Look at that face. Look at that pathetic, shaved throat. Check out those cool eyes.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Feral cats and gay roosters

He's a feral cat, scraggly, scruffy, scrappy, bushy black with emerald green eyes. Black Kitty has been coming around for the past couple years. Sometimes, he disappears for weeks or even months at a time, and just when we're sure he's gone for good, he shows up again, battered and hungry. Our house is a good place to hang if you're a cat; it's safe, with comfy places to get out of the elements, people who talk softly and feed you when you meow at them. Recently, he returned after a three week absence, a scabby patch of missing fur on his head and an injured front right paw. I've gotten close enough to touch him once, this morning, for the first time. Until today, he's always darted away at the slightest move in his direction.  He's not aggressive and the other kitties don't seem to mind him. Even Doc has gotten used to him and has stopped barking to chase him away. So we feed him when we see him. The last few nights, he's curled up to sleep on the back lanai. He needs a safe place to recover from his rough and tumble exploits. The poor fellow, or maybe he's a she, is just trying to survive, one day at a time, just like the rest of us.

Two other visitors have become regulars in the yard. A pair of roosters has taken to crowing under our bedroom window early and prancing around the vegetable garden, cavorting under the kukui nut tree every morning. I see roosters and hens together all over the neighborhood. Our own Charlie ran off with a brown floozy over a year ago, and just last week I saw him at the neighbor's with two, count 'em, two hottie hens. But I never see rooster in pairs. Well, almost never. These two are always together. I see them at Leonard and Mari's place across the street, or strolling along the road's edge, not exactly wing in wing, but never far apart. I think I saw them high-fiving the other day after news that the domestic partnership bill would likely pass soon, now that Hawaii has a new governor.

On Tuesday, Ron and I drove the Hamakua Coast to North Hawaii Hospital, where I was scheduled for minor surgery. That was also the third day of my acute laryngitis. They were reluctant to perform the procedure when they realized I couldn't talk and my throat was swollen. Then, like a dope, I admitted I'd had a little coffee that morning, and the jig was up. No surgery for me. "You should have lied," Ron said. Yeah, like I'm really good at that. So instead of anesthesia and snipping and scraping and whatever other horror they had in store for me, we went to Costco and had fish tacos and margaritas at Big Island Brewhaus in Waimea. Much better.

I have no good excuses for slacking off on my blog entries, other than to say that I've been too busy writing to write. How lame an excuse is that?

A hui hou. Malama pono. Aloha!