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Front Page » July 6, 2010 » Opinion » Keeping the cats meow alive indefinitely
Published 1,388 days ago

Keeping the cats meow alive indefinitely


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Being a dog person my whole life, I had never been very fond of cats until the last few years. The change came when I got a black and white maincoon cat named Oblio.

Oblio was beautiful and I fell in love with him right away. However, he was never really my cat; he loved everyone in the family. But he was the most beautiful animal I had ever seen; sleek with movements like soft music and a fairly sweet disposition. Unfortunately, as often happens when people move and take their cats with them, when my wife and I relocated to Kenilworth from Spring Glen in the 1990s one day he slipped out the back door and ran off. We never saw him again.

A string of cats followed as we both adopted some and others showed up at our back door and adopted us. This was not unusual for me. Growing up on a dairy farm in Murray, I remember the barnyard cats that seemed to grow exponentially as more and more subdivisions were built around our farm near the Jordan River. One time my dad told me to give the barnyard cats some milk that accidentally spilled on the barn floor and had been mopped up. I went out the the room by the grainery and the silo where we kept horse tack and some other equipment and poured it into some dishes that my uncles had set out for just such an occurrence. It seemed a thousand cats came from a dozen directions; in those days we weren't too concerned about a feral cat problem, especially since they controlled a lot of the mice around the barnyard for us.

About 12 years ago we moved to Carbonville and the spring after we relocated my wife and I happened to be reading about a fowl called a Catbird. The article said the bird had a call like a cats meow. We thought that was kind of funny.

A few days later we were working in the yard when from the bushes came a meow.

"I bet that is one of those cat birds," my wife said to me. It came from high up so we started to look. However, it wasn't a cat bird, but a very little, furry kitten, hanging from a high branch. My wife called to it and it finally descended and came through the thicket of plum tree branches and into our arms. Someone had obviously dropped it off; it was so young. We immediately began to feed what turned out to be a little male kitten. It was obvious from the beginning that we were going to keep it. But what to name it?

"We thought it was a bird," my wife said. "Should we name it Bird?"

"How about Mr. Bird, since it is a male," I said. The name stuck.

The next day, we were in the house and we heard another meow at the front door. It was another kitten, one that we assumed was Mr. Bird's sister, both probably having been kicked out of a car somewhere along the road. She had an "O" kind of marking in the middle of her head. My wife named her Ophelia.

While we had outside cats at the time, we had none inside. Since they were such small and obviously poorly fed kittens, we decided right from the beginning that they should be inside with us.

Thus began the adventures of Bird and Ophelia.

I could go on and on about these two; between the cute things they did (and do) and the things they perpetrated upon the house that got them the nickname of "evil beasts" from my wife. Nonetheless, 11 years later they are still with us. They have changed a lot over the years too.

At first Ophelia was always the lover and Mr. Bird was standoffish. In the last five or six years, something has happened that has made Mr. Bird fall in love with me, however. If I sit down he is right there. If we don't lock them up at night he and Ophelia have cat rodeos on our bed and then he ends up sleeping on my head.

They have, of course in my house, grown up with Siberian Huskies too. Sometimes I worry the play by the bigger dogs gets too rough for our felines, but the cats always come out on top. Dogs are smart, but cats are conniving; they always win.

I have come to love Mr. Bird so much that I just don't know what I will do when he is gone. He is my television partner and when I read he wants to read with me. While he is still healthy, and may live a number more years, the fear is always there that one morning we will wake up and he will have passed away. His movements are a little slower, the shine in his eyes is different when those green orbs look at me and the mischevious look he always has had has softened a lot. He is in the twilight of his life.

So the other day I came up with a plan; a way to make him immortal.

"I think when Mr. Bird dies I will take him to a taxidermist," I told my wife. "Just think he could sit on the mantel with those big green eyes, always around, but just not getting into things."

"That's horrible," she said. "You really aren't serious are you?"

"Sure," I said. "Roy Rogers had Trigger stuffed and put in his museum for years after the horse was gone."

"Yeah and Dale Evans said she was going to have Roy stuffed and put on top of him after he died too," she answered. "But when he died she didn't do it."

"Well just think," I said. "When I die you can sit me in that chair in the front room and put Mr. Bird in my lap. That way you will never be without us."

She just shook her head.

"Who says I want you around forever," she stated. "Or the cat."

She had a point I could understand. Think of the maintenance alone; dusting the cat and I off, shining our glass eyes, keeping us vacuumed, making sure bugs weren't infesting us.

Not a good idea. So I guess a photo of the two of us together on the dresser will have to do.

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