RISING SUN - I went paging through the 1960 edition of the Crawford County Independent looking for a little column inspiration from the original columnist, Pearl Swiggum. Through her years she had many conceptions of her column, but in 1960 it was Kaffee.
This week, in 1960 she briefly wrote about losing her last “scraggly” old barn cat. She had previously lost a lot of them to a distemper epidemic and was needing to restock.
It made me think about our old cat, Lunch and others I've known. Lunch is really more of Chascas' cat. A sleek, formerly large and muscular black tom cat, Lunch has lived a comfortable life at least for the last few years.
He wandered up to the woodlot Chasca used to work at in Readstown. Wet and skinny, reportedly swimming across the Kickapoo to come greet the group of guys standing around on their lunch break. He must have been friendly enough because Chasca brought him home, despite just previously battling a hoard of feral cats which had taken up in the home he was remodeling and living in. Lunch quickly became his baby it seemed for when I came into the picture, the cat wasn’t so thrilled.
He would walk across my lap if I was sitting next to Chasca deliberately digging his claws into me and flashing his backside in a rather unattractive manner in my face.
But, like cats do, he eventually warmed up to me. I would carry him around on my shoulder like a baby being burped and he would even occasionally curl up on my lap and sleep.
He’s always been a desirable cat in the respect that he’s quite like a dog. He likes to come and go in and out at his own leisure and never used a litter box until recently.
When I took him to the vet seven or so years ago just to get checked out, they estimated his age to be about two or three years old. Fast forward to today, and that estimates he's where 10 or 11. A bit geriatric. He spends most of his time hiding from our kids who love him in a rough, trying to drag him around by the tail kind of way. He seems most happy in the middle of the day when it's just him, and the kids are napping and he can curl up on the loveseat by the heater.
For me he is the only cat I’ve ever had that lived inside for a long period of time at least.
As a child I once had a bobbed tail kitten named Oreo. It was wild and almost ferral and spent the majority of its time attempting to escape from our home. One day it was successful and was promptly hit by a car, on our back country road where people drove to fast and wild kittens aren’t wise enough to get out of the way.
Lucky for us, Lunch seems to have figured out the system of crossing safely. I often see him prowling the edge of the road and he will follow us on walks, but any noise of a coming car and he quickly darts out of the way.
Although I never really had indoor cats, we had our fair share of barn cats and outdoor kittys. I can recall seemingly endless litters of baby kittens. Because even though you may never have or see a tom cat anywhere near your home, if you have an unfixed female, you’ll have kittens like clockwork.
I’ve seen my fair share of kitten births. Especially with young mothers who seem to not have the instinct yet to make a comfortable nest for their babies. Rather, just panic and have the kittens somewhere near these humans they live with in hopes they’ll know what to do.
One of these times happened early one morning before a school day. A young mother cat had snuck in and was hiding in the basement or so we had thought. She had in fact made her way up into my room and managed to leap, enormous kitten filled belly and all, up onto my bed where she began yowling in labor. As she began to produce the first kitten I screamed to my mom for help. She came storming in, wondering what could be the matter, only to be greeted with fresh kittens on my bed and a look of panic on my face. Not exactly a cat person and not exactly thrilled, she hoisted me out of bed and instructed me to start getting ready for school while she looked for a box and an old towel.
Luckily for us, Lunch came into our lives already fixed so random and unexpected batches of kittens haven’t exactly been a problem. But unfortunately for us, in his old age he’s gotten quite lazy. He doesn’t hunt like he used to or should being the master farm cat. So Chasca and I have begun discussions about adopting a new feline friend in the spring when all of the shelters seem to be overflowing with the unexpected litters from all the young kitty mamas. We will hopefully be lucky enough to choose one who has a high prey drive but keeps away from all of our lovely song birds. Which is the real feat indeed with an indoor outdoor cat.For now though we’ll just continue to enjoy the winter with our old man, Lunch and hope that he can tolerate a few more years of tough love from toddlers and little kids in return for some premium napping spots and fresh cans of wet cat food.