Sunday, April 8, 2012
Festus; The Wandering Warrior Cat
Some years back, we got two kittens from a neighbor who was only too glad to be rid of them. We named the grey female "Miss Kitty", and the black male "Festus".
Obviously, we are big fans of the old western "Gunsmoke".
Well, at first we couldn't get them to stay inside our house when we wanted them to. They found a gap they could crawl into and sleep in the insulation of the house. This proved to be a good tactic at times, because unfriendly dogs would try to get them and they would retreat to their hole.
Finally we thought we had got them to come in and be social (as much as a cat can be) and winter was setting in.
That year, right around the Thanksgiving holiday we were hit with a huge snowstorm. We were snowed in for almost a week and Festus was gone. We never thought he would make it with the severe cold weather.
Well, almost six months went by and we had put up a sign on our road - "Lost black cat" with our phone number.
Finally, an elderly woman that lives at the top of our hill called up. Apparently Festus was going in her cat door and eating her cat's food. I imagine there was a little fighting going on. We never thought he could have made it.
So I went up to get him. She offered a cat box for transport, but I said I didn't need it.
I got the shit scratched out of me by the time I got Festus home, he had gone feral.
He had turned into one rabbit-killing son of a bitch. Somehow he had survived the snows of the winter, killed anything that moved, and probably raided other cat's stashes of food. I'm sure he took shelter in barns and garages on our hill.
Well, we got him back into the routine of family life and all seemed well - until the following winter. Again, a huge snowstorm hit around Thanksgiving and Festus was gone. That is gone for another six months.
They say that a cat is the only domestic animal that can survive on it's own without humans, and I believe it.
Sure enough, the elderly woman at the top of the hill called and let us know he was back. Capture, scratch, repeat.
As we started the taming process again, I would go down to the saloon and see him sitting staring at a hole waiting for the rabbits to come out. When he had one, he would fight a polar bear to protect his fresh-killed rabbit. Then he would eat the whole thing and lay down sick for two days until he shit it out.
This is a great way for cats to pick up parasites, by the way. We are really good at giving pills now.
Just in case you think Festus's sister Miss Kitty is an angel, don't be fooled. She is a bitch. Both of them fight, but rely on each other as you would expect.
Lately we have had a late-night problem.
The cats are bringing in mice and rats at like 4 AM.
But recently, they don't always kill them first. I wake up and they are batting some poor rodent up and down the hallway. Real fun to wake up to.
A few nights ago, I grabbed one dead mouse away from the cat and threw it into the wood stove, which had gone out hours ago.
My wife got up in the morning and tried to start a fire, and the damned mouse wasn't dead after all. It jumped out of the wood stove and ran. It took her 20 minutes to get it out of the house, what a great thing for the early morning.
So a couple of nights ago, I had a snootfull of Beer and decided to practice my Wudang Saber form outside at dusk. I spun, stabbed, slashed and ran the form several times. I packed my swords up into a nice Japanese sword bag my Aikido instructor had given me, and went inside.
As I took off my boots, I thought I saw something running across a wall. I checked and couldn't find anything. About 10 minutes later, I was putting my sword bag away and saw the mouse run across the room.
That mouse got crushed by the scabbard within the sword bag.
I do not relish those moments, but if I had not killed it, it would have burrowed into places we could not get it.
And there was some irony in the fact that I had a huge amount of Chi going from my sword form, and was faced with making a kill, even if it was a mouse.