Prodigal Cat Comes Home

Actually, the headline on this post is a bit misleading. It should probably read “Bringing Home Traitor Cat.”

We have to go get Snowball from the neighbors to bring her home. And when we do, George keeps a close eye on her. George wants to play, but Snowball just growls and hisses at him.

That’s because Snowball the cat didn’t come home of her own accord, and she isn’t “wasteful” as is the definition of “prodigal.” Rather, she is a bit of a “Benedict Arnold” cat. She has willfully abandoned the comforts of our home and taken up residence as an outdoor cat living under the neighbor’s deck.

We periodically stop on the county road at the neighbor’s driveway and beckon the usual “Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” And almost without fail, Snowball comes walking and meowing towards us. With continued enthusiastic calling we can get her to come to us, and we get her into the vehicle to bring her home.

We did this a few days ago. Once we got her home, she filled her belly with cat food and fresh water and took a long nap on the chair in the living room. Then in the middle of the night she woke my husband with her vocal pleas to be let outside, and she promptly returned to the neighbor’s place.

Snowball was a stray kitten at our county fair shortly after we moved to the country six years ago. After letting Horse Lover drag her around the fairgrounds for the better part of a day with the cat not fleeing, I decided to bring the cat home. And I didn’t even treat her like your average country cat; I let her live in the house complete with cat food, water dish and litter box!

She still snubbed us – although not right away. At first when we let Snowball outside, she would always return later that same day or the next day for sure. But then the dynamics changed around here. Within the first year of Snowball’s life we also added a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy to our family. The next year we added a second Corgi puppy. And the year after that we added a baby girl to our life … Busy Toddler … that’s about the time she started extending her outings to weeks, then months, then to only returning when we go get her and bring her home. It got worse when we brought home our second cat, Ginger, shortly thereafter to be renamed George. So I suppose her betrayal shouldn’t entirely be a shock to us.

The truly ironic thing is that the neighbors don’t really want her around, but we can’t get her to stay home! We try not to take her shunning personally, but the fact that she continues to leave sure makes going to get her less of a priority for us.

Unfortunately, Handsome Hubby is getting tired of being woken in the night by a howling cat. He’s also tired of her shedding all over our furniture as she naps, and of her jumping on our countertops searching to satisfy her sweet tooth. She is the first and only cat I’ve known who will eat the sugar off of a powdered donut and leave the rest in tact!

Anyway, Handsome Hubby would really rather we just left Snowball alone at her residence of choice – the neighbor’s place. And we might just have to do that since bringing her home obviously isn’t making much of a difference to her anyway.

On a side note, if I had I been blogging back when we first got Snowball, I probably would have called my middle daughter “Cat Girl” or something similar as she was as crazy about cats at the time as she is about horses now. After attending her first circus, Horse Lover announced that she wanted to be a cat trainer when she grew up, and then decided she wanted to be a cat wizard. That decision hung around for quite some time. She doesn’t appreciate being reminded of that whimsical time of her life, but we sure enjoy remembering her sweet innocence!

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A Tom Cat Named Ginger (Or, Gender Confusion on the Ranch)

Back in August, Busy Toddler and Sports Girl bamboozled Handsome Hubby into adopting a kitten from their cousins. She was a sweet little orange kitten the cousins had already named Ginger.

Tom Cat Named Ginger

George (aka "Ginger") lounges while Busy Toddler starts the day watching cartoons.

Now, this kitty was born and bred as a “ranch” kitty, but that doesn’t mean anything at our house. It was well understood that this would become a house kitten, mostly because we do not have any outbuildings close by that would enable us to officially have “barn” cats. There’s also the issue of our male Welsh Corgi, Archie, who has already successfully chased off one cat, and then there’s the fact that my girls want their pets to be inside, so they can spend more time with the animals for their own personal comfort and convenience.

But I digress … back to the kitty.

A couple of weeks ago I took Ginger to the vet to be spayed. I opted not to pay extra to see if she might have any issues with the anesthesia, and I left my cell phone number with the receptionist in case of an emergency. A couple of hours later, I got what I thought was the dreaded emergency call from the vet clinic, but the lady sounded far too cheerful for there to have been any crisis.

“Ginger’s fine,” she said. “But Ginger’s a boy.”

That was one strange phone call. I didn’t laugh at the time, but I have gotten a good belly laugh out of the conversation since then and thinking about it even now makes me smile. Turns out both of Ginger’s male protrusions failed to protrude at all and were still up inside his abdomen. The worst part was that getting him neutered actually cost more than a normal spaying would have cost because the vet had to search and dig for the goods. Just my luck …

Before you think we’re all crazy, I should emphasize that even the vet tech that prepared poor Ginger for his eventual castration did not notice the gender mix-up until after the kitten was opened up on the operating table and things didn’t present as they should.

My oldest niece says she noticed Ginger was a boy before we picked him up. After examining dozens of litters of kittens, those lifelong teenage ranch girls don’t miss much. And she thought she told us – she probably did. We acquired this kitten right after the county fair, and who’s thinking straight after helping the girls finish dozens of craft, food and sewing exhibits, helping them prepare and show five sheep, and spending three relatively sleepless nights in a tent in the heat at the fairgrounds?!

Speaking of the fair, we had another funny gender issue come up there – this time with Sports Girl’s mini lop rabbit. She purchased the best overall mini lop doe from another 4-Her at our county fair last year specifically to breed with her buck. Well, we didn’t have any luck getting bunnies and for good reason. Turns out last year’s champion doe is actually a buck! Now, it can be tricky to tell the difference between male and female rabbits, especially when they are younger as this rabbit was last year, but still … more than one set of rabbit expert eyes looked at this critter and didn’t catch the mistake!

It’s really no big deal that Ginger is a boy. After all, he’s officially an “it” now. The hard part is convincing a 2-year-old that Ginger should now be called George. Heck, I’m having a hard enough time getting used to the idea myself. I find myself telling Busy Toddler something like, “Be nice. Ginger just had surgery and she has an owie on his tummy. Just scratch George’s head.”

Who wouldn’t be confused after that?