Ninety-Five degrees in the sweltering shade - a HOT Saturday in late July in the Washington DC area. Instead of enjoying an air-conditioned day at home, I ventured outside in the brutal mid-day sun was because my 83 year old Dad had just called up and said "I'll pick you up for lunch!" I never refuse THAT kind of appointment!
As I waited, I heard the doleful moan of a cat. At first I dismissed it, thinking it was the very vocal Siamese Cat who lived on the first floor -- her person usually takes her out for walks on a leash. But in this terrible heat??? I listened again, and looked around the parking lot and the communal rose garden the Siamese cat was nowhere to be seen.
Yet the doleful cries continued. I ventured out onto the baking asphalt of the parking lot and the cries got louder I peered under one particular car and there, looking back at me were two eyes -- a furry being was curled up under a parked car. I said a cursory "Psst pssst!" to the furry dark form with the bright eyes, and lo and behold, a dirty exquisite "Torti" (a tortoise-shell cat a mostly black coloration with unique orange and white markings) came running out from under the parked car with gleeful abandon, and immediately started rubbing my ankles. "Come come!", I told her, and together we sprinted across the hot parking lot, onto the grass, and the shade.
Miss Torti was SO happy to find a human being!! With an ecstatic look on her furry face, she rubbed against my ankles non-stop, then stood on her tippy toes and rubbed my knees. Clearly this cat has a loving person somewhere!! I reasoned that she may have fallen off one of the plentiful balconies in my very large apartment building. I decided to take her to the shelter, for surely she was lost! (And if no one claimed her, I would adopt her!).
But how to get her into a carrier??? I looked around, and saw a nice looking young guy (named Jason) standing in front of the entranceway. "Would you mind distracting this kitty so I can run upstairs and get my carrier?" I asked him, adding that I wanted to make sure she didn't run into the street and get lost again. The young man was happy to comply.
I raced upstairs, grabbed the carrier, threw some dry cat food into it, and when I once again emerged into the blistering heat, the young man was calmly sitting on a bench with Miss Torti standing next to him, pirouetting like a ballerina, back arched and prancing toes. I placed the carrier with its opened door next to her, and (I know this will be the first and last time I ever see this!) she JUMPED into the carrier and started eating the food. I pushed her little furry butt and rear legs into the carrier, shut and secured the door and at that moment my Dad walked up and said "Where have you been?!!!!" After thanking the young man, Jason (we introduced ourselves and shook hands) my answer to my Dad was "Dad, we have to go to the shelter!"
At the shelter, when I told the personnel that I thought she had fallen off a balcony, they looked through their "lost cat" files (with descriptions and photographs) and shook their heads. "No, nothing from your area.....Oh, wait!!!!" And the woman handed me a photograph of a much-loved Torti cat!! How did I know it was loved very much? This pretty Torti had been posed, sitting atop an elegant mahogany dining table like a well-composed Queen, in front of a beautiful flower arrangement. The cat in the photo was a spitting image of the cat in the carrier! And, appropriately enough, this kitty's name was...."Lucky". I looked into the carrier, and a little cat butt was facing me -- so I said "Lucky?" and immediately a happy little face peered out at me thru the carrier's slats.
Lucky had been lost for 2 weeks. She lived TWO miles down the road from me and there were two major roads in between her home and mine! How she ended up in my parking lot will be a mystery forever (we joked that she must have taken a nap in a Fed Ex truck!) Now, you know a cat doesn't get named "Lucky" for nothing there usually is a very strong, compelling reason to give her that moniker. Well, she was definitely Lucky again!! I am SO glad I had been in my parking lot at the right time and the right place!!!!
I left Lucky with the competent people at the shelter, giving them my name and other information, and as I patted her on the head before leaving I said: "If no one claims her, I'll put in an adoption application." (No sense in rescuing someone only to abandon her to Death Row!!!!!!) The shelter personnel told me to call Monday when they opened, to find out how she was doing. With now-empty cat carrier in tow, I hopped back into my Dad's car and we went to lunch.
Monday morning at 10 am I called the shelter - "Oh Lucky went home already!" they said. I was so happy for Lucky's person!! I wish ALL lost pet stories would end that way..... Lucky's person never contacted me, but that's of little consequence. My reward was in finding her. I only hope that Lucky now wears a safe cat collar and stays indoors.
So, does the story end there? Actually, no! A few weeks later, the Arlington County Fair opened. Now, I, a Bronx kid, city brat, sidewalk penny pitcher, and handball player -- love the County Fair -- if I could pitch a sleeping bag in its environs I would live there for the 4 days it inhabits the neighborhood. So it goes without saying that I spend ALOT of time there, making multiple visits, enjoying sights and sounds, eating goodies and meeting people.
On my first visit to the Fair, I went to the Animal Shelter's booth. One of the ladies manning the booth looked at me and said "Oh! I remember you! You're the person who brought that CUTE cat in to us!!" (Well, it's nice to be remembered for that!)
The next time I visited the Animal Shelter's booth at the Fair, a different lady looked at me and said "YOU look familiar!" So I answered, "Probably because I'm the one who brought that cute cat in!" And while visiting the local Cable TV station's booth, I introduced myself to some of the people manning it and one of them walked up to me and said "Hi! Remember me? I'm Jason! You're the one who asked me to sit with that scrawny cat!" To which I replied "Hey, you'd be scrawny if you were lost for 2 weeks!"
My apartment building's parking lot has yielded a living bounty of animals to me -- first, it was two lovebirds that someone had either lost or "set free" (to die when the temperature drops) -- Animal Control couldn't come to pick them up, so I stayed with them while they huddled under a parked car, knowing that my neighbor Bonnie would soon be taking her walk around the block with her mom -- Bonnie ran home and got a cage, into which first one bird and then the next, got in. We all breathed a sigh of relief! They're doing fine -- Bonnie calls me whenever the female lays an egg.
The next rescue-ee was a cute roly poly dog (possibly part Jack Russell-Border Collie Mix, weighing about 40 pounds) which I promptly and unofficially named "Scruffy". No tags, no collar, mud from the knees down. She happily peeked at me from behind a parked car in the parking lot, as I trudged home, exhausted. I called to her and she came to me, tail wagging, big doggie grin on her face. I tempted her with dried cat food that I always carry with me and secured a portable collar and leash on her (which I also, always carry with me) while she ate the dry food. (BTW, I also carry a mesh shopping bag, something like the United Animal Nations' "Evac-Sac", to hopefully use in an emergency to place a rescued kitty in). Since I can't keep a dog where I live, I had to take her to the shelter. Luckily two people who live in my building came over with water for the dog and then drove me to the shelter -- I made two good friends that day, and they're both from the Bronx (my hometown)!
I made it a point to visit the shelter the next few days --"Scruffy" was never claimed by whoever lost her -- BUT (and I made sure she got adopted!) she found a home - a family with 2 kids! I think I've seen her happy, portly figure walking down the street with her "dad" and "mom".
Then, along came - "Lucky" the Torti Cat.
So what's next? A horse? (just kidding!!!!!) Well.......... Read on:
On Veteran's Day, 2002, in a pouring rain, while visiting my elderly Aunt in Delaware, I went with her to the Christiana Care clinic. On the way out, I paused to admire a nicely landscaped lawn, when something made me look for a cat - I felt that there were ferals there - don't ask me how I "knew". The next thing I know, a beautiful LH Tortoiseshell kitty came slowly out from under a flowering bush and walked up to me!!! I felt so bad because at that moment I was unable to rescue her! I left her some dry food (in the pouring rain.!) and got out of there before she ventured into the parking lot. I alerted the people at the front desk of the clinic, that there was a kitty on their lawn that needed to be looked after (I had no idea if they would do anything about it....), and when I returned to Auntie's apt, I called all the local shelters -- all of them were closed.
Returning to Virginia that day, with every revolution of the train's wheels taking me farther away, I felt so bad for that cat! When I got home I immediately emailed Alley Cat Allies, who provided me with 2 names and phone numbers of two women who rescued cats in that area.
Both ladies responded to my calls -- one went out and with my instructions and description, found Cee Cee (I named her after where she was found!!), AND also found SEVENTEEN other kitties, some of whom were CC's juvenile offspring. ALL were trapped, and the bank that owned the property PAID for all their vet bills!!! After all were spayed, neutered, vaccinated, eleven of the kitties had to be returned to where they were originally found, as they were too wild to be adopted -- the lady's boyfriend built some small inexpensive cat shelters (click to go to the Alley Cat Allies' instructions on how to build a shelter lean-to for feral cats), and someone was also feeding and looking after them on a regular basis. As for Cee Cee, I got a ride to Delaware from a fellow cat person, and she went home with me, to live in a special kitty penthouse (the spare bathroom) suite.
It's taken CC a while to get used to being under a roof, but right off the bat she LOVED to be petted AND brushed!! and she knew how to use a litter box. Diane May , an Animal Communicator, came to speak with my kitties and told me (among other interesting things) that Cee Cee lived in a home at first, but her people were "very distracted", and that once she came to live with me, Cee Cee at first had a hard time adjusting to the fact that she didn't have to search for food anymore! I am so glad I was able to provide Cee Cee with another home --mine -- and this one loving and happy. I let her hide whenever she wanted to, and let her know that I had a lot of love to give her, and food and catnip and toys.
I also gave Cee Cee "Feral Cat Comforter" tincture from Anaflora.com, and that seems to be helping her too. Now although she is still deathly afraid of strangers (one look at a stranger, and it takes me 2 hrs to find her!) Cee Cee hops skips and RUNS up to my Princess kitty (who hisses and spits like a diesel engine needing a tune up, but is still pretty tolerant), and CC runs to me, feet barely touching the ground, with eyes bright whenever I call her. She is filling out (no more protruding backbone!!!), her fur is shiny and full, and has learned how to play -- with her tail, with the cat tree, and all the cat toys, and, like Princess, she will sing happily and loudly to her favorite toy (but unlike Princess, who brings her toys to me -- Cee Cee does not ).
Baby Twinkle is another story - she and CC have to be kept apart or they will fight like lionesses when together, sigh... Amazing how Baby Twinkle, a kitty with such a sweet face (and who will allow me to give her Belly Button "Breeps" when I stick my face in her hairy belly) can be such a monster at times.
Anyone who "owns" a cat knows that after a significant trip to the litterbox, the cat usually races full speed through the house/apt.
Although humans would disagree, the cat would tell you - it's because their rear ends "have been lightened considerably".
So when I saw Princess tearing through the apartment while I was getting ready to leave for work, I figured -- "OK, I have to scoop da poop before I leave."
However, I could smell Katpoop no matter where I went.....I looked here and there and all over the place, but other than the litterbox (where it was), I could find no other evidence. Until I saw Princess's belly -- it was THERE....................
Princess was very distressed and sat here and there, trying to clean herself. I grabbed her (after a chase) and flipped her gently on her back on my lap and went Clean... Clean.... Clean..... with various wet Scott Towels. When she was sufficiently decent, I poofed some cornstarch on her belly (I'm glad she's a short-hair!). Then I released her so she could skulk somewhere and meditate on her morning. I guess I gave her too much Barley Grass supplement in her food the other night.
I'm glad I have two cats. With some wet Scott Towels in my hand, I followed Baby Twinkle thru my apartment -- everywhere she went "Sniff Sniff Sniff", there I was right behind her, cleaning up. I scrubbed and cleaned and then sprayed perfume and Lysol spray, and life once again returned to some semblance of normalcy.
By now I was really late for work. So I figured - what the hey, while I'm here and still cleaning up, let me run my car (I had just recharged the battery the other day). So I ran downstairs, popped the hood (I'm glad I did that!), ran the car, locked it while it was idling and started to go back upstairs to finish cleaning. Before I closed the hood, I looked in the engine compartment and saw three or four tiny jets of raw gasoline spewing out of a cracked fuel line, like little tiny fountains............. So I unlocked the car, turned off the engine and waited for a fire and or explosion. Luckily (Thanks, Up There!!!) there was smoke and nothing else. I called the Fire Dept and asked them to come and put some foam on the raw gasoline. They came, reached into their truck and pulled out... kitty litter.
A fitting end to an interesting morning. (I replaced the hose right away).
I locked the kitties out of my bedroom until I came home. When I came home that evening and unlocked the bedroom door, Princess dashed in, flumped herself on my bed and started to lick her belly. I broke the sound barrier getting to her, but luckily her belly was just fuzzy, fine and clean!
Still beats running after a passel of kids in Pampers.
I met Miss Lisa Marie Skunkie in 2009 when I had just sleep-walked off the train from DC at 3 am in Cleveland and was driven by my Skunk Rescue Friends, hereafter known as Dora and Ken, to their Skunk Refuge 40 miles away. Once there, I had a choice—go to the hotel and crash on the bed or go with them to a radio station at 630 am, where I would be given a Baby Skunk to hold and be interviewed by a local Radio Station in beee-ooo-tee-ful downtown Elyria Ohio.
Well, what do YOU think I did??! Of course.
So once at the radio station Dora plopped 3 month-old SWEEET Lisa Marie baby skunkie (fur like silk—shiny and beautiful and with a fat skunkie butt) into my arms—where she snuzzled my neck and stuck her little nosie into my collar. I held her and smiled with delight and then … I had a thought. “Dora,” I asked “is this skunk SPAYED?” Dora smiled a knowing smile and shook her head no – which is when I realized I was holding a loaded skunkie. They do not de-scent them until they get spayed. But Miss Lisa Marie was the Poster Child Of Retention and she did NOTHING to me, except continue to be cute and snuzzly. And after the interview Dora took her from my arms and let the radio personnel pat her on the back (never pat a skunk directly in front of the face – they can bite) and after they oohed and aaahed and petted her, she once again gave me Lisa Marie to hold and sed to the radio personnel – “You just petted a Loaded Skunk”. The look on their faces sed it all.
But THAT is not the skunk story I had wished to tell you. Heh heh.. to be continued.
A story about a loaded skunk, and them Good Ole Boys
Sunday Feb 19, Dora and Ken were to pick me up and take me 1- to a local Good Old Boy Camping and Fishing “show” at the fairgrounds, and 2- thence to their refuge, where I could play with the skunkies. They called me, saying “We are going to be a little late—some idiot trapped a wild skunk and left it in the trap overnight- we are going there to release it into the woods”
So an hour later, their car pulls up – Dora comes bouncing out and hugs me and says “The skunk sprayed us a little—the car smells a little”
Disclaimer - There is NO SUCH THING as a LITTLE SKUNK SPRAY.
But I am game—my scarf was thick – I doubled it up and put it in front of my nose and cracked the window a little (this is Ohio—it gets cold there) and we bounced and sped along to the fairgrounds. I justified the stench by saying “It will CLEAR my SINUSES for sure!!” Once we got there and parked the car we went into the first of 3 buildings. It was crowded with lots of Good Old Boys and women, who were vending or buying or just looking at stuff. As we walked along, from the sidelines and background we could hear them GOB’s murmuring “I smell a skunk’. “Do YOU smell a skunk” “Smells like there’s a skunk somewhere”.
EVERYWHERE we went, these voices could be heard. So Dora and I just looked at one another and smiiiled. Ken on the other hand stamped his feet and said “I’M GOING BACK INTO THE CAR AND WAIT THERE!” Dora and I looked at one another and said “All he’s gonna do is STEEP himself in that smell!!” When we entered the 2nd exhibition building, Those Voices In the Background started up again - GOB’s murmuring “I smell a skunk’. “Do YOU smell a skunk” “Smells like there’s a skunk somewhere”.
And the THIRD building we entered had the same background voices – MORE GOB’s murmuring “I smell a skunk’. “Do YOU smell a skunk” “Smells like there’s a skunk somewhere”. Dora and I still said NOTHING but we just smiled and kept looking at all the exhibits and doo dads for sale. FINALLY when we were at the LAST and FINAL table in the LAST building, the GOB that Dora was buying something from (nice guy) said almost to himself “I smell a skunk!” and Dora said “OK! I CONFESS- IT’S ME!” AND PROCEEDED TO TELL THAT GOOD OLE BOY THE real STORY BEHNIND THE SKUNK SMELL – AND HE SAID “Well, It MIGHT NOT BE YOU!! We had a skunk running thru buildings 1 and 3 this morning and we had to shoo it out!!”
L-O DOUBLE L. The even funnier thing was that we then went to Fathead Brewpub (blueberry beer, coffee beer and Goggle Fogger beer—plus Ken brought home a growler of Grapefruit beer. Oh. I hope you already ate …..!) Anyway, we stuffed ourselves with burgers and fries and we noticed that NO ONE there was making any skunk comments—how interesting. Haha – maybe they were drunker than skunks…Anyway, we went back to the refuge, where they put Lisa Marie—now a BEAUTIFUL ALL GROWN UP LADY SKUNK, into my arms and the picture, and the rest, is history.
Then came time to feed all the skunks in the refuge (after Dora had washed her clothes 2x and Ken had taken a shower and washed HIS clothes). But Dora was fit to be tied (both of THOSE people qualify as honorary skunks BTW). She wailed: “The skunks are running away from Ken and hiding! They won’t eat their food becuz Ken smells like a strange skunk!!!” Oh the Drama At the Skunk Refuge.
Meanwhile, a large skunk walked up to me and stuck its nose into my ankle and then grabbed me gently with both arms. That’s ok – I was cool.
I had a great time. The AMTRAK train trip back was hell. The only significant thing was that the train actually got skunked (oh the poor skunk…)
The Story of Kung Pao Kitty - and how he got his name-- and how he got RESCUED (twice)
April 2 – a dreary cold rainy day -- I had just returned from a group outing to the Trolley Museum-- the restaurant the group picked afterwards was not to my liking—so I went down the block and ordered Chinese – it was a GREAT decision!! Afterwards our tour bus dropped us off, and I was so tired, that I just missed the Metrobus. When I set down my Kung Pao Chicken doggie bag on the bus stop bench a little black cat came running to the back of the bus shelter and put its paws on the Plexiglas divider- trying to get to the doggie bag! “Where did YOU come from?!’ I said. I immediately picked up the doggie bag and walked into the grassy area behind the bus stop to get him away from potentially murderous traffic on Columbia Pike.
The kitty was very cute—a black cat with big jewel-green (crossed!) eyes, one big fat white whisker, and what appeared to be an ear tip ( but no, he was very intact—so it may have come about from a fight).
Being very shy, he ran under a bush, which I presume he had been hiding under for some time. I carry a portable “animal rescue” kit with me and it included Pounce — so I gave him some and watched him eat it greedily. I did not want him to stay there - knowing he ran the very real risk of being killed in traffic, so I called two TNR/rescue friends -- no answer-- left messages-- no one called back. My car does not run—and I do not have any traps (my animal rescue kit has been more effective for lost dogs, so far). But I was determined to stay there until it got dark, and I would have had to leave with a VERY heavy heart if he had not been rescued - However -- The AC officer whom I called, came and trapped him, saying that he too would not have been able to sleep knowing the cat was so close to danger. I caught the next bus, and instead of being tired when I got home—I was exhilarated!!!
To make a long story short—the kitty (who I unofficially named Kung Pao) was evaluated by the caring staff at the Local Animal Shelter (VERY LOW-KILL) and after a week or so, he was neutered and placed for adoption!! I was so happy to hear that!! Taking two buses to get there, I visited him once a week, interacted with him (toys, brushing, sweet-talk) and was thrilled with his progress – he was neutered and given lots of TLC and great food. He progressed from being a shy boy to a handsome playful kitty! And all the staff and I were very sad when his one big white whisker fell off! If my budget had allowed, I would have adopted him, but alas that was not to be. So, after several months, (and after visiting him every week!!) I was VERY happy when he was, at last, adopted!!
THANK YOU Local Animal Shelter for being so kind to this kitty!!