Yep, I know! I’ve been gone a long time, but I’ve got a really good excuse for it. In fact I’ve got several…. my granddaughter’s injury in the Fall, then came Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Now, I’m getting ready to move in another 6 weeks and I feel like I can’t keep up with how fast the minutes, hours, days just fly by. It seems the older I get, the faster I get old. I also decided to spend my days traveling to my daughter’s home everyday for the sake of helping the grandkids with their cyber schooling. In the midst of all the holiday preparations and baking and gift wrapping; in the middle of all the lessons and quizzes and writing projects, I decided I simply had to rescue a starving and homeless kitty who is absolutely precious one minute and a veritable wild cat another. Yeah, me, the not-so-animal-friendly-human that I am, took pity on this little fuzzy bag of razor claws and rattling bones who took up residence on the front porch of the building next door. My landlord and I were sitting on the porch talking when we noticed the little fur-bag timidly poking her head between the porch rails. Mike reached over to pet her head and she came through the rails and sat obediently while he stroked her. I made sure he knew she didn’t belong to me, had never seen her before and had no intention of getting to know her. Mike doesn’t allow pets and that was just fine by me. It’s not that I don’t like animals at all, but I simply don’t have time for them, nor do I want the work that goes with pet ownership. I sure don’t want the expense. When we stood up to say our goodbyes, the sudden movements caused the furball to skedaddle in a hurry. She jumped the short distance to the building next door and there she cowered behind her own porch railing, peeking at us through the gaps in the rails. She never once made a sound…not a purr…not a meow…not even a slight squeak. At the time, I assumed she belonged to someone in the building and wondered why they had allowed such a young cat to remain outdoors in the cold with no real shelter. I took note of the small plastic container filled with cat food. At least they were feeding her. In the days that followed, I watched her food bowl go from full to empty. Several days passed and it didn’t seem to have been filled at all. I wondered if she had just wolfed it down before I had a chance to assuage my worry about her possible starvation. After about 4 days, I came to the conclusion that the whiskered wench was a stray some apartment dweller had taken pity on for a split second, or had been left behind when her owners moved. She didn’t seem to have any energy, barely lifting her head when I passed by. Her eyes seemed to be growing much too large in her shrinking face, and she shivered on the cold porch where she was curled up in a little ball. By the 5th day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I coaxed her over to my porch and held the door open to see if she would come inside. She barely made it to the threshold before she had to sit. Then she sniffed the air a bit, lifted a noticeably quivering paw, and attempted to step up into the doorway. She dragged herself inside, but was either reluctant to venture too far, or simply didn’t have enough strength. I left her in the hallway and went up the stairs to my apartment. Leaving the door open, I hoped she would wander on up. She didn’t. When I went out and sat on the landing, she was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at the mountain to be climbed with a woeful expression. I stayed seated and waited. Finally, she mustered the strength and crawled up each step, never stopping until she disappeared inside my apartment. She was a timid little gray tabby that I believed to only be about 6 months old. I fed her the only thing I could think of….tuna. I couldn’t believe how fast she downed the first half of the can, but I knew I shouldn’t give her too much at once. Then she disappeared without making a sound. I looked for half the day until I discovered her in the back of my clothes closet, nestled on a stack of decorative pillows stored in a corner. I left her there, checking periodically while she slept the sleep of the dead. In fact, I had to keep touching her to make sure she hadn’t given up the ghost.
Over the next couple of days, she came out of the closet long enough to eat a few bites of tuna, take a drink of water, and use the makeshift litter box I set up in the bathroom making use of a foil roasting pan. After about 3 days, her curiosity got the best of her. Though she tentatively poked her nose around the rooms, she pulled back when I got too close to her. She was such a scaredy cat. She was so skittish about people contact that I named her Skittles. I warned Mark (my other half) not to get too attached to her since pets aren’t allowed. I intended to bring her back to health and then find a good home for her. He said he understood, but it wasn’t long before Skittles and Mark were best buds. Skittles decided that Mark’s lap was the purrrrfect place to rest, and lying next to him was her favorite slumber spot. Typical! I’m the one who rescued her. I’m the one who makes sure she’s fed. I was the one who made sure she had a clean litter box, until I gave the job to Mark. If he’s going to enjoy the adoration from the furball, then he can do something to earn it. After about a week, I heard this faint weird sounding low rumble that seemed to be coming from the cat. I leaned in closer and realized she was trying to purr but her motor sounded like it needed a quart of oil. Her breathing had been rather rapid since the day she arrived and I got the feeling that she was walking with some pain. I hit the computer search sites and learned that the fuzzy lump probably had respiratory problems. I wondered if she had been beaten or kicked, too. I knew she should see a vet, but money was tight. Mark had just gone back to work and the holidays were close. My rescue mission was turning into a long drawn-out life saving event. I came to the realization that I had probably taken her in when she was already knocking at Death’s door. In the past 2 months, we’ve learned a lot about Skittles The Cat. She probably is a tad older than 6 months. She is a very, very finicky eater. She’s allergic to certain dry foods. She has an addiction to tuna but detests salmon. In fact, she won’t even eat tuna based foods if they’re mixed with salmon. She’ll eat chicken based foods, but only after she’s so hungry she can’t go on. Now, if I give her a small piece of freshly cooked chicken, she’ll gobble it down like a child chomping candy. She eats some really weird things…like when I cooked off a pumpkin to make pies. She chewed through a plastic ziploc bag and was lapping it up….like when I had a plate of newly decorated gingerbread cookies sitting uncovered on a tray. She pulled three down and licked all the icing off….like when she found cookie crumbs left behind by messy grandchildren. She played with them before pouncing on them and munching away in ecstasy…like when a rib bone was left on a dinner plate and she jumped up on the counter to pull it down and chew it like a dog. I’ve taken to calling her Hog Jaws because she waits anxiously at my feet when I’m preparing dinner, like a dog waiting to be fed scraps. If something gets dropped, she’s on it faster than any dog I’ve ever seen. I don’t think there’s a vegetable she wont scarf up. Once she pulled two homemade pizza pockets from the tray where they were cooling and had one half eaten in mere minutes. Since these early lessons in feline hoggery, I’ve learned to keep things well covered and protected. Skittles has learned she doesn’t like water sprayed in her face for getting up on tables and counters. She’s gotten pretty good about resisting the temptation to climb up. Every now and then, she’ll beg at the dinner table by standing on her hind legs, placing her front paws on the edge of the table and looking at us with expectation. She’ll look from one of us to the other and then slink away in dejection when she understands she’s not getting any. Now and again, she tries to convince us she’s human by sitting on her hind legs on a dining chair and resting her front paws on the table edge as though I’m going to place a plate of food in front of her. As usual, when she figures out it’s not going to happen, she gets down and skulks in a corner, eyeballing me with reproach. One might be led to believe she’s a bit stupid, since she keeps trying the same old ploys to get her way. The truth is that she’s just a rebellious bit of fluff and stuff. All I have to do is to snap my fingers and point to the floor, or clap my hands once and she stops what she’s doing. She won’t do it again for the rest of the day UNLESS she has it in her head that she’s my equal. Those are the days I can do without. It’s like having a recalcitrant child challenging every rule you put down. This four-legged shag carpet will watch me intently as she lifts a paw like she’s going to step onto the table, then drop it back down innocently the second I give her a scowl, only to attempt it again the moment she thinks I’m looking elsewhere. As irritated as her challenging attitude is to me and as annoying as it is having to watch her like a hawk, I get a big kick out of her. The truth is: I’ve always liked a little bit of bad…in my men, in my children and grandchildren, and now, in my pets. I’ve tried and tried to get a good picture of her, but she puts on quite a show of being camera-shy. Personally, I think she’s mastered the art of being a diva and is using her pretended reluctance to get us to try even harder. One of these days I’ll manage to snap a picture before she turns her butt to the camera, but for now, you’ll just have to take my word for it that she’s actually a very pretty bit of fleece.
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