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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Cat Who Loved to Fetch

This winter when the neighbors moved out I was surprised that they had abandoned their kittens. 
I guess I should not have been.  She seemed to be the type of person to collect men kids and tattoos; cats seemed the logical progression.  I had to give her credit though she named the black and white critter quite well; his legs were covered with white patches from foot to chest and all the way up his hindquarters, while the rest of him was black as a moonless night sky—thus she called him Moon-boots.    Not the typical “Socks”, “Sooty”, “Shadow” nor “Smudge”.  No, she named him Moon-boots, and it suited him perfectly, an unusual name for an unusual cat.  
Blissful Moon-boots who ran up to you mewing his greeting, wanting nothing more than love in the sunlight while I was gardening, or to jump into my lap when I was writing on the patio.  Moon-boots who was the only cat I knew who loved to play fetch with my eight year old son, his fishing rod and a catnip filled toy at the end of the fishing line.
What was not so surprising was that she had decided to take Moon-boots with her, to the disappointment of my son and I, while leaving three cats in his wake--a huge ginger tabby and two twin grey and black tabbies.   I made the discovery when I was walking up the driveway one day and saw the cats emerging from under the market next door.  Perhaps I should explain.  There is a local grocery market next door to us and it has a residence in the back of it.  They are together in one building but separate, and it was from under this that they emerged.  I was saddened.  Not only were they abandoned but now they were left to find shelter under the old market.  It wasn’t right. 
I re-traced my steps back to the market to find out if I could get any more information from the teenage employees working that night.  I found out that the renters were indeed gone, and they had left the cats.  (I thought perhaps there was a chance that they could not find the cats on moving day and would be back to collect them, but alas this was not the case.)  I asked the girl what she thought about it.  She said that she wanted to take the cats herself but couldn’t because she already had three of her own.  I asked her what the owners thought about the situation and she told me that she hoped that they didn’t know about it because they would call the pound and have them rounded up.
There was a foot and a half of snow on the ground and I wondered when the cats had eaten last.  I asked her when the tenants had left, three days ago she told me.  That was it; I grabbed some cat food and asked her if they had any plastic containers I could use.  I couldn’t have the cats in my house because of allergies but there was no way I could let them starve. 
I paid for the cat food, went up my driveway again and then I lined up all three containers, filled them with food and then came back with a bigger container full of  water.  Then I went into the house to see what would happen and how long it would take until I saw some movement.
It wasn’t long at all before I saw a pink nose quivering just shy of the shadowy darkness, it hovered there for a moment, then back it went, only to reappear a moment later with some whiskers this time too.  I could tell it was one of the little twins.   So timid it was, coming out slowly, eyes wide with caution, little pink nose never letting go of the promise of food.  Then it was eating with gulps so big I thought it would choke!  Eventually I trained them to come to the back patio for the food and water so that the rain and snow would not make it swell. 
It was supposed to be a temporary thing, this adoption of these three furry orphans.  Just to give them a fighting chance over the winter.  But it seems that my heart has come to enjoy their presence and their routine.  They are still quite flighty and will run at the sound of the back door opening, but I hope that will change. 
I am not quite sure what to do about the crows and other birds that come to steal their food.  At first I took to the patio every time I heard them cawing to their counterparts, I must have looked like a mad woman flailing my arms in an attempt to scare off the black feathered jackals.  But even if I did, it didn’t seem to faze them, they would just come flying and hopping back again as soon as I left or closed the door.  It would make me so angry thinking of them stealing the cats food!  It infuriated me to think that they would take from these little souls who had so little. 
Then as I thought about the problem more deeply I found that it wasn’t a problem at all.  It was just that I was looking at it all wrong.  I originally wanted to help the cats and alleviate their suffering, but the crows and the birds had just as much right to the food didn’t they?  They too were sentient beings.  Why should I put the cats over the birds?  Weren’t they just acting in the way of their nature?  Opportunities arise and we are provided for, it is no different in the animal world.  Besides the crows keep the eagles out of the yard, and I would really hate to see one of my kittens flying away.
So now when I hear the call of the crows, I don’t worry as much.  It will be what it will be and it will be perfect as it is.  And hopefully in the summer, we will have 3 more cats who love to play Fetch. 


  1. Terrific....I woud do the same. It's great to have next door cats, rather like having grandchildren would be, I suspect!

  2. A heart warming story or should I say tail.
    I think we learn so much from animals

  3. Cats are good at finding their own dinner, so I wouldn't worry too much about the crows. My cat used to go down the road to another house, if i was late feeding her. She had no patience. Nice write:)

  4. I like reading about cats, now that my cat passed on. It brings back memories :)

  5. if i ever find myself hungry and homeless (again), i'll know just where to come hang out

  6. @ Farmbrough, yes it is aways good to give them back hopped up on catnip! :)

    @MJ big smiles!

    @Fiocle I hope you write about your cat!

    @Ed I have a place all ready right by the fire. :)