Bob and Kathy's Adventures with Feral Cats

The 1999 Edition

September 1, 1999

Hello Everyone,

It's been quite a while since I've reported on the happenings here at the Rude Ranch, mostly because its taken this long to recover from moving. So far we still have about 20 boxes to unpack. We've managed to find most of the important stuff, but several vital household items, such as TV and VCR remotes are still MIA. When we left off at the end of the moving adventures, we had just moved into the new house. Kathy's father had just had surgery to replace the joint in his shoulder that he broke when he fell down the steps at the new house. He decided to live with us while he recooperated. Here's what happened since:

Sometime around the middle of May (time starts to become blurred when you are my age) Bob's sister asked me to work at her restuarant, Uncle Nicky's we still haven't quite gotten out of this gig yet. Anyway, at some point during the night, a man came in to pick up food. While he was there, he started asking people if they wanted a kitten. One of the golden rules of animal rescue and adoption is to never give an animal away. At this point the hamster in my brain got back on the wheel and I started thinking: well, we bought the bigger house to do animal rescue, but we aren't ready yet. After all, we just figured out that our cat Mama is the one turning the furnace off every morning. If I don't take this kitten, it could end up in a really bad situation. If I do take it, at least it would have lots of fun playing with empty boxes. We took possession of "Pepper" the next day. The man told me that Pepper was one of two female kittens that he and his wife had adopted. However, they couldn't keep both girls. When he said Pepper was a female kitten, I believed him. After getting Pepper home and "checking under the tail" I learned otherwise. I guess some guys aren't too good at anatomy.

Pepper snuggles with Mama

Pepper brought out Mama's internal instincts. We frequently found her grooming the little kitten. At least Mama didn't teach Pepper about the furnace controls. Two weeks later Pepper went up for adoption at the Save A Life Animal Shelter and quickly found a home.

About the same time Pepper found a home, Bob and I decided to bring Goldie home. You might remember Goldie as one of the stars of the original Adventures with Bob and Kathy. He had been doing everything possible to make himself unadoptable at the shelter anyway, so eventually the day came to go get him. Just for laughs, we took Boomer along.

Turns out the both the ostrich and the emus at the shelter thought Boomer would make a tasty snack. Boomer wasn't pleased with this idea. Goldie however, seemed quite pleased with the idea of coming back to the ranch. Until now, this cat would run and hide every time a kitty carrier was brought within 6 feet of him. One time he even went as far as yakking a hairball on a potential adopter to keep away from the dreaded kitty carrier. This time however, he went right into a carrier without any fuss. Maybe he was just worried about where Boomer was trying to stick his nose.

It was also about the same time Bob started having what I call "lawn disasters". Our new house has about 2 acres of lawn. Obviously, this lawn grows and periodically needed to be cut. I promptly decided this was a job for Bob. Bob decided he needed a riding lawn mower to do the job. The first time he mowed the lawn, he used by father's riding lawn mower. It probably would have worked much better if he hadn't gotten the clothes or whatever material it was tangled up in the mower blades. The end result had Bob holding the mower up in the air, while I crawled under and cut the fabric away from the blades.

The next incident was with the lawn mower we had recently purchased. This time Bob managed to get the tarp covering the fish in our temporary fish ponds tangled up in the mower blades. I soon resigned myself to the fact that everytime Bob went out to cut the lawn I should be on stand by with a pair of scissors.

What we didn't realize was that in addition to our neighbors watching our lawn incidents (I don't even want to know what conclusions the neighbors had) there was another pair of eyes watching us from the woods. The owner of these eyes made himself known while Bob and I were outside one Sunday. All of a sudden, a big furry creature was standing behind Bob, wagging its tail. At first I couldn't decide if it was a deer, horse, or both. It turned out to be a really friendly big dog. He stopped by for an ear scratch and went on his way.

The next time he came back, Boomer was outside with us. The big dog immediately went to Boomer and started playing. The only problem was that Boomer, for all of his bravado, was not match for this dog, especially when Boomer's entire head was in the big dog's mouth. The dog was also something of a drooler, and covered Boomer with spit, promptly earning Boomer a bath something Boomer also wasn't happy about.

The "Big" Dog

As time went on, we learned more about our big visitor. Turns out he really doesn't have a home, but he might like one with us. (Neighbor's interpretation). In the meantime, we are starting to worry about him when he doesn't show up for his nightly visit.

Back to the cats: By July Abbey and Blackie were our only two foster cats. Although they were doing ok in our house, they needed a home where they could have undivided attention. Fortunately, such a home seemed to be available. The prospective family came over to meet them. At least Bob and I were smart enough to lock them in a room before the family arrived. After all, we didn't need the cats pulling off an "alien transportation maneuver" and disappearing just when we needed them.

The family's visit didn't start well. Upon entering the house the family's 6 year old daughter saw Boomer and immediately let out an ear piercing shriek. At that point most of the rest of the cats took off. Upon seeing all the furry bodies taking off, the 6 year shrieked again. This time Bob and I headed for the aspirin. We finally got the family into the room with Abbey and Blackie. Unfortunately, every time one of the cats brushed up against the little girl, she screamed. This certainly wasn't going well.

Abbey and Blackie

Eventually, the little girl wanted to use the bathroom. Fine. However when she opened the door, Abbey made a run for it into parts unknown in the house. The girl decided to go looking for her. That's when the rest of the Rude Cats wanted to be in the room with us. Finally, we found Abbey, and the family decided to adopt both cats. We just hoped everyone survived the trip home.

Things were quiet for a couple of weeks. Then I got a call from the lady that had adopted from us last summer. There was a kitten living in a storm drain on a school parking lot. It had been there for about 3 weeks. Some kids were feeding it, but with traffic on the parking lot, the kitten was sure to be run over. Could we help?

Armed with kitty toys, food, gloves, and live trap we headed to the storm drain were the kitten was supposedly living and listened. Sure enough, there was a kitten in the drain. Now all we had to do was coax it out of the drain and into the trap. We set everything up and waited. Eventually the kitten showed up. He ate the trail of food up to the trap. We thought we had him, then the kid's day camp school bus showed up to drop kids off. Realizing he now had an audience, the kitten took off. Everyone was looking at Bob and I as the experts in catching this kitten. Unfortunately, when we said just to leave and the kitten would go into the trap, no one would leave. We took the initiative and left, hoping that like the pied piper, everyone would follow us and leave the kitten alone.

When we came back, we found the kitten had come back out, and was dancing around the trap. Pulling the "bait" out of the trap from the outside. Ok, so it was a smart kitten. Finally Bob managed to get close enough to sit on the curb with the kitten. The kitten would rub all over Bob, but wouldn't let Bob pet him. The kitten also found the trap to be a great toy and was having a ball climbing it. By now it was starting to get late, and people were starting to show up with their dogs. Plus people passing by were really starting to give us some really strange "I'm calling the cops" kind of looks. Hey its not everyday that you see two people sitting on the ground by a storm drain with assorted animal traps and carriers around. Soon it was now or never when a miss thrown tennis ball went whizzing by, it distracted the kitten long enough for Bob to scruff it, me to open the carrier, and in several clumsy but swift moves, a confused Mack ended up safely in our carrier.

We didn't have to worry about Mack's abrupt capture having too much impact. By the end of the night he was grooming Bob's beard.

Mack on the prowl

The following Saturday we took Mack to the Save A Life shelter to have him tested for several feline diseases. To show there were no hard feelings after having his blood drown, Mack even started grooming the owner's beard. Fortunately, Mack "passed" his blood tests with flying colors.

This particular Saturday was also a special day for one other resident at the shelter it was the day that Bones, the shelter mascot retired. You Bones was pretty much a fixture at the shelter. Being the owner's favorite cat, he had special privileges. However, it was understood that under no circumstances was Bones to be adopted out. However, after 5+ years at the shelter, the owners wanted Bones to be in a real home. They asked if we would take him. We immediately said yes, and loaded him up.

Mr. Bones

At this point I should say that after living at the shelter for 5 of his 5.5 years, Bones was pretty much unflappable. He was used to seeing cats loaded into kitty carriers and never coming back. However, he wasn't used to being loaded into a carrier himself. He certainly wasn't used to being put in a car. On the way home he was meowing so intently that little Mack started trying to reach into Bones' carrier to comfort him. Bones' first few hours at the Rude Ranch were something of a riot. You could almost see the wheels turning in his mind: "Litter box: check. Food: check. Water: ok. Another cat: It's Goldie! I remember you! Cool." Eventually Bones made his way upstairs and met the other cats. Tia, still the queen explained the rules to him. He understood. Then he finally saw himself in the mirror. At first he couldn't understand why this cat was staring back at him. Eventually it became a moot point: Cali our resident brat came up to him. Bones, who was still following proper cat protocol apparently tried to introduce himself. Cali, who believes that the universe should revolve around her, does not follow such protocols. She bopped him a good one on the ears. When Bones met up with Cali the next day, you could almost see him bracing himself for another "bop" on the ears. Instead, she rubbed up against him and gave him a huge headbutt. It looked like Bones' eyebrows went up (Spockovian style) and he did a headscratch, followed by a huge "HUH???????".

Coming next..... The population explosion !!