The Cat Fairy Finds Me Again

Some of you may be so fortunate as to have never been visited by the Cat Fairy. You may not have even heard of her. The Cat Fairy skulks about, looking for unsuspecting soft-hearted cat lovers. You may not even consider yourself a cat lover. No matter. When the Cat Fairy finds someone who she determines is worthy of her gifts, she leaves a cat or kitten on the doorstep. The Cat Fairy will not be denied. When she determines that you must have a cat, then YOU WILL HAVE ONE!

I’ve been regularly blessed by the Cat Fairy. Her first visit was 40 years ago. One rainy night I let one cat outside, and ten minutes later two cats came back in. Audrey and I were together for 17 years.

Ruby, my first cairn terrier, and I were on our morning walk when we heard a tiny “mew” from the overgrown drainage ditch on the side of the road. Ruby loved cats and had one of her very own, so I knew she would not hurt whoever was calling to us. I let her off her leash and asked her to find it. Minutes later she emerged from the high grass delicately carrying four-week-old Arrow by the scruff of her neck. That began another 17 year cat-human cohabitation.

I cannot escape the Cat Fairy no matter where I travel. Sixteen years ago I pulled up to the rental cabin at Hunting Island State Park, and Willow was waiting on the steps to the screened porch. I swear she said, “What took you so long?” As we opened the door she sauntered inside, walked to my bedroom, hopped onto the bed and fell asleep. She’s slept on my bed every night since.

Willow was my last present from the Cat Fairy. It’s been so long since CF visited I thought that I might finally be off her list. And after figuring out that I’ve been cleaning cat litter boxes every night for 42 years, I was ready for my current cat crop to be my last.

Woe be to anyone who thinks that the Cat Fairy will at last pass them by. Here’s what she left on my front porch for my birthday:

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Let me introduce Scout, all whopping two pounds of her. She let me get close enough to pick her up yesterday. Off we went to the vet, where she was pronounced female and feline leukemia / AIDS negative. So begins her new life as an inside cat with the other two felines already in residence.

Willow and Murphy are totally disgusted. (I am amazed at the sounds they can make to voice their displeasure.) Charley is cautiously curious, having previously met kitten claws. I am totally smitten. This new little life is gladdening places in my heart that have felt only sadness since losing Ruth Ann.

Scout thinks it’s time for my bath. My left hand is under attack by a sandpaper kitten tongue. Oops, now it’s my toes. Gotta go!

Time For A Change

January 2007 began with my brother-in-law dying of leukemia. In March I took my soul-brother off the ventilator and held his hand as his spirit flew off to see what happens next. As the year continued, two work colleagues left this earth, along with a dear man who mentored me early in my career.

Later that spring, my oldest cat began throwing up blood, a symptom of the lymphoma that was supposed to have killed her six years ago, and she had to be put down. In August my cairn terrier’s diabetes became too brittle to be controlled by insulin injections, and Skylar joined Arrow on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

In October my surviving cat Willow developed uncontrolled vomiting, which resulted in exploratory surgery, followed by a month of keeping her alive at home by four-times-a-day forced nutrition through a feeding tube.

The first week in November, Willow went upstairs still connected to her feeding tube, and came back downstairs without it. She decided that enough was enough and used her time alone to pull it out. On the way home from the vet, a speeding car ran a red light and hit me broadside as I was making a left turn. By the time my sweet old ’93 Volvo wagon stopped spinning, headlight and tail light covers popped off and were strewn in the roadway, every piece of plastic on the inside of the car shattered, and the rear axle snapped in two. The legendary Volvo frame was so bent that once the fireman forced the rear hatch open, the entire car skewed so that neither side doors nor rear hatch could be closed again.

So 2007 ended with my car dying to save me and my cat – we both emerged shaken and bruised, but we walked away basically unharmed.

At the end of 2007, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles decided that those of us who had old, three-digit license plates had to be issued new four-digit license plates. I’d had the same plate for at least 20 years, and I wasn’t looking forward to having to memorize a new tag number. But when I opened the package with the new tag, I knew that I’d have no problem remembering it. This is what the DMV decided I needed that crazy year:

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Turns out there was big public outrage about plates being issued with that particular combination of letters. The DMV ended that tag run and offered to replace the existing tags of anyone who was offended. But I loved my new license plate. It completely and thoroughly summed up surviving 2007.

But now, 2007 feels well behind me. Now, in 2013, it’s time for a change. I’ve thought about a personalized license plate for the last couple of years, but when tag renewal time rolled around, I talked myself out of the extra expense. Thanks to refinancing the mortgage, last month I had a little extra cash in my checking account, and I decided to take the plunge. The new tag arrived yesterday evening, and I braved the latest horde of mosquitoes to install it.

Here’s what my car will be sporting for the next few years:

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My old tag reminded me of everyone I lost that long year, and all that I survived. My new tag makes me giggle. I like the change.

Evening Walks Are Different

Evening walks are different from morning walks. The light hits flower beds and shrubbery that in the morning are still in shadow, giving me new landscapes to enjoy. People who in the morning are still in bed or already off to work are in their yards, waving and shouting greetings as I pass by. The evening breeze requires no jacket or long pants in order for me to be comfortable. My arms and legs feel caressed by the soft, warm air, as I walk dressed in shorts and a tee-shirt. The sun-warmed earth releases aromas of dark loam and green grass, along with the surprising, odd smell of a fishing pier at the beach. I guess someone fertilized with fish emulsion today. The scent of newly bloomed magnolias lingers in this heavier evening air, reminding me of what heaven must smell like. There is a sweetness that lingers. The day is almost done. The morning’s projects and concerns are either completed or left for another day. There is nothing to do but leisurely stroll through my neighborhood with Charley, enjoying the gifts of the evening.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

Willow

Willow adopted me 14 yeas ago at a state park cabin at Hunting Island. As I was opening the door, she strolled in and jumped on the bed that I would sleep in that night. That’s where she’s slept ever since. In this photo she’s guarding my journal. Whenever I leave it on my bed she perches on it. Perhaps she’s the real origin of the writing that starts there and ends up in my blog.

Quarantine!

Last week I was combing my cat Murphy, and he decided he wasn’t happy with the activity.

Murphy aka "Killer"

Usually when he’s had all he can take, he reaches back and bites the comb. This time my index finger was in the way, and he chomped down on the side of my knuckle with his incisor.

Yes, he is still alive and unharmed, even with the instantaneous pain in my finger that would have been much relieved by throwing him across the room.

By Thursday afternoon my finger was red, hot, swollen, and unbending despite my having cleaned the wound Wednesday night. So off I go to the neighborhood Urgent Care, where I find out that any animal bite that comes in for treatment must be reported to the local Animal Control.

I’d just taken the bad boy for his annual vet visit, so all his shots are up-to-date, including his rabies vaccination. I filled out the bite reporting form, and included the date of his rabies shot and the name of my vet. The folks at Urgent Care gave me 10 days of antibiotics, told me to come back if it got worse, and sent me home. I thought that would be the end of this adventure.

My doorbell rang on Thursday morning. An Animal Control officer was there to investigate my cat bite. I showed both the requested rabies inoculation certificate and the cat, who was happy to demonstrate his vicious side by flopping upside down in my arms for a belly rub. She informed me that state law requires that Murphy be quarantined for 10 days to see if he develops rabies.

Since he’s an indoor cat, his sentence could be carried out via house arrest. The terms of the quarantine include not allowing any other animals or people into my house, lest they be exposed to rabies; not allowing Murphy out of the house; not giving him any vaccinations, and not “disposing” of him before the end of the quarantine.

Additionally, there would be two more visits from Animal Control to observe Murphy and check that he has no rabies symptoms. The first visit was last Tuesday at 7:20 am – she wanted to make sure she caught me at home. The last visit should be tomorrow. If Murphy appears well, I will receive the official document that proves quarantine is lifted.

In addition to my Animal Control visits, someone from the local Health Department called me last Sunday afternoon to make sure that I’d received treatment for my bite. He even asked what antibiotic I’d been prescribed. When I told him augmentin, he replied, “Oh good, that’s the right one.”

My finger can now bend and is back to its normal size, which means I can again ply both the keyboard and the harp. And I have a new warm, cozy feeling in my heart: With a lifetime of being in the political minority, never before did I think that the government was so concerned with my well-being. So delightful after all these years to know that they really do care!!!