We have an unhealthy ratio of cats to humans at our house. I never in a million years thought I would become a crazy cat lady. And really, I'm not. The Irishman is. But it's guilt by association, I guess. And since I am the one home with them all the time, everyone just assumes they're mine. Don't get me wrong...I love a good aloof and arrogant cat any time. But we have 9 cats that are inside/outside...Nine. It started out as 2, which is a respectable number. They were Lily, our little torti, and Leo de Catrio, our big lion-maned yellow boy. And then before we could get her spayed, she had 2 kittens. So, then there were 4. That's not a horrible number, but it feels like a lot. One day across the road at the mailbox I heard a pitiful little mewing sound, and there was one of the baby kittens, the little black one! I didn't know how he could have possibly gotten out of the house!! I scooped him up and carried him back to the house and went to put him in the box with his brother...only he was already there. It was an evil trick!! But he was here and he was hungry, and mama cat let him nurse, so he stayed. Then, like an idiot, I agreed to foster 3 cats for a woman who brought them here and never came back for them. The Irishman looked at me and said...???? And I gave him that look and said--Don't say it. I couldn't believe she was abandoning her animals like that. But she did. So, then there were 8. This was insane. One day, one of the foster cats didn't come back home and was never seen again. One night in a horrible thunderstorm, I heard a little tiny mewling, I thought. I said to the Irishman, "Did you hear that?" He looked straight ahead, and said NO. I said--listen. He said NO. I hear nothing. (Bless his heart...) I opened the front door and there, against the pelting rain and lightning was a teeny little drowned rat of a kitten, huddled up against the storm door. I picked her up, talking to her all the while, and brought her in. Look, I says to the Irishman, look--she's so tiny...and he says to me, we need another cat like we need a hole in our head. I says, but look, she's starving, and she's soaking wet. What can I do? I can't leave her out there to die. And besides, Leo de Catrio had gone off to find less crowded accomodations and hadn't been seen in 2 weeks. This one brought us back to 7. She became MY cat, and climbed all over me every time I sat down for a second. She was named after Junko Tabei, who was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest. lol Then one afternoon when the Irishman was working out in the backyard, a fat little yellow and white kitten appeared and started following him around like a puppy. He named him Augustus Octavio, because he was the 8th cat, of course. A stray found her way into our garage that winter...it was so cold and we let her stay of course. She wouldn't come into the house, and she looked pitiful, all skin and bones and crooked and twisted, like she'd been hit by a car or abused. Little by little she came to trust us and we got her into the house during the coldest days. She repaid us by eating like a pig and finally starting to look halfway healthy. Of course, you've guessed by now...she was pregnant, and graced us with a litter of 4 kittens. (Ogden Nash said it best:"The only trouble with a kitten is THAT-eventually, it becomes a CAT." ) Now. This would be 13 cats, except that I managed to find a farm home for 1 of the fosters and the little mailbox kitty, who were getting aggressive with the other cats and needed to go. That left 11, and one of our original kittens got very sick and had to be put to sleep. Down to 10. And our darling Augie (the 8th) was hit by a speeding car that swerved to miss an oncoming car, as he sat at the bottom of our driveway, and died instantly. So now, we have 9 cats.
I only tell you all this to make you understand what life in rural America is like. People dump animals all the time, cats and dogs. (And, I guess, to make excuses for why we have so many animals). All 3 of our dogs are rescued, one from a shelter, one from a relative and one that came out from under the back porch one sunny afternoon. We had another dog for a while, he was an old dog we named Fred the dog, and he was dumped out here too. I hoped he had just wandered off and couldn't find his way home, and I put up flyers in the stores in town and talked to everyone I knew. He loved it at our house, and he loved all the cats. But he was a big dog, some kind of a yellow lab mix, and ate like a horse. He was an incredibly sweet old dog. Of course no one claimed him. But I found him a home on a farm with an old farmer who had just lost his own old dog. Fred jumped right up into the front seat of his old Chevy pickup, and they waved as they drove out of sight.
So, here we are with more animals than normal people should ever have. Cats everywhere. On the top of the fridge, waiting to drop down onto visitors shoulders if they get too close to the fridge. Under the chairs, where they'll play with your shoe laces and scare you to death. On the island in the kitchen, because they can. Under the dining room table. On the bed. In the window sills. On the back of the couch. Inside , outside, every where a side, side...even on top of the bird cage and the aquarium.
Oh. Did I forget to mention that we have fish and a bird too? A cockatiel named Chico that was dumped at the door of a pet store because somebody didn't want a cockatiel that wouldn't talk.
Oh. And chickens. Right. Chickens too. But they're not pets, so they don't count, right???