Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kirby Joins the Houdahenian Division

It's been some while since we spoke of the saga of the Houdahenians: a wild black momma cat first spotted in the dregs of winter skulking into a perimeter shed, a cautious investigation, three kittens discovered, and so forth. The boys are now cats, Puzzle, Wuzzy, and Mokey. Puzzle is damn near a panther, and confidently leaps from the loft directly into his cat perch, a crow's nest at the top of a rug-upholstered pole featuring as well an upholstered horizontal tube and a second lower perch. Actually, they all want that top perch, and take turns with it, some of the "turns" being fairly undemocratic, short-lived battles with sound. Puzzle tends to win, particularly if he's already there. I've yet to see him leap from the loft onto a current occupant, but it might and could have happened, as he is fine leaping from there onto my shoulders, lap, or head, as the thought moves him. He's also good at jumping up into the perch, with my legs or some other intermediate mount being a stage in the athleticism. He had best watch his weight if he's going to continue to enjoy all this flying about, and Puzzle is the one who will eat everyone's food, the guy who wants the last fry on his friend's plate in the commercial, and the guy who has no fussiness about his appetite.

Wuzzy is slightly smaller than Puzzle, and just as coal black. He's the most adjusted cat. He lets it all roll off his back. He likes the perch, but will get out of the way. He's the one who, back on New Years Day, found himself utterly stuck some 40+ feet off the ground in a small sourwood tree, the one who cried piteously from the tippy top branches, where he couldn't move, the one who got the tree guy with the big boom truck out on New Years Day to saw his way into our yard and close enough to ride the boom up to him and get him down--which he thought was surely going to happen eventually. We paid for that, as Wuzzy doesn't worry about this stuff we humans go insane about at the slightest provocation, "money." Wuzzy would not starve a 90-year-old military veteran who fought the genocidal-crazed German nation to make a cockamamie "point" about how making health care more affordable to more American citizens is in truth worse than the blight of American slavery. Wuzzy would if he cared to vote straight ticket Democratic, something now illegal in North Carolina, his home state, which he also bears no allegiance at all to. He was, after all, born in a little shed.

Mokey, Puzzle and Wuzzy's soft grey brother, was once the first born worrier, particularly on nights when momma was very late coming back from hunting, when it was cold and windy and the big white moon face stared into the shed window at all of them with a sinister smile, and branches scratched against the tin roof whilst they huddled together for warmth in the southwest corner. Mokey once ventured out, once climbed into my daughter's hair when she came to visit, and generally would walk up anyone's arm and ask for anything, while Puzzle kept his head down and looked away, and Wuzzy tended to have been dropped in some other spot by his mom, for reasons unknown. Now Mokey continues to worry, and to keep to a high corner, and to find food he liked last time tasting strange, and to cry for food until his people tire of opening new packets and just hope he'll get hungry enough to deal with it. In the dead of night, Mokey will climb into our bed and curl against my calf. He does not like, however, to be held and petted. Unless it is upside down, then it's really great for a while.

Momma, over time, became "EmmyLou." We caught her and got her neutered, and released her. She was a little panther then, and angry and wild, and vanished for several weeks whilst we put out food for her just in case, near the chicken house where she'd had the kittens. One day I saw her there again, eating. I moved her food up towards the house, and in a few days she was furtively eating on the porch. Next we tried putting the food just inside the door. She'd come in and eat, but scoot out if we came too close. For a long time she'd come in all the way to eat, with the boys chowing down in the living room, door closed. Then I'd open the kitchen door and she'd scoot out again. This was how all last winter went, and into the spring and summer. Eventually we had to catch her again for shot renewal, and after we'd accomplished that, we decided to keep her and all the boys inside, and she's fine with that and sleeps on the back of the couch, and speaks to us now and then, but will not allow touching,though she'll brush against your leg if you're preparing food, sometime.

Back in May I think it was, I came home from work one day and found, oh Jesus Lord, a tiny yellow kitten on the porch. He was wild and ran away, and starving. We got a have-a-heart trap and easily caught him with food. He ate and ate, allowed us to touch him almost instantly, and was shockingly thin. We didn't need any more cats. We had FOUR! We also knew that the boys would not like a newcomer, and might well kill a little critter that would look more like a rat to them. They were all hunters, and good at it. Cats mostly are not concerned with the ethics of killing things. Puzzle last spring brought me the head of a Cardinal, NC state bird may my sweet bird-watching mother rest in peace. Our population of lizards has drastically thinned. The squirrels moved quite out of the ceiling and have not returned. There are then, pluses and minuses.

We took the little yellow kitten to our county animal shelter. We were told he'd likely find an adoption. Within a week we were told, when we checked, that he was due to be eliminated that day due to overcrowding. Oh Jesus Lord. Through a complicated process we rescued the little yellow kitten from this fate, and as well he achieved a name, "Kirby." He's a sweet one. He unfailingly purrs when picked up. He is a good eater, is healthy, athletic, and very uninterested in returning to the wide outdoors. For the boys outdoors was a playground, and they sometimes pine for it, sitting at a window and watching for any movement. If it weren't for the damn wild dogs that drift around the woods and have killed a neighbor's cat, we'd keep letting them out to play. And the deer ticks they would bring in. Instead, they are inside. KIrby is fine with inside. He knows something they don't. Outside it's cold and wet and very very very hungry. Inside it's warm and soft and interesting enough, and there's never a time when there's nothing at all to eat.

Kirby kept growing. We played a game of moving him from one area of the house to the other. The boys would be where he wasn't. Kirby was lonely, and more and more wanted to meet his brothers. He missed his family from long ago, whoever they were. We have no idea at all where he came from, but he does look like the father of the boys. Just sayin'. Finally a couple of weeks ago Kirby burst out of the bedroom and in amongst the others. He was not so much smaller than them now. He was about 6 times more energetic. He was annoying, but they had smelled him and knew he was here. He tended to chase them, not the reverse. He had the sense to lie down and exhibit brief submissive poses if they became overly annoyed. Then he'd jump back up and pounce on one or the other some more. After they'd eat they'd all tend to go lie down, Kirby not so far from the others. One night last week we saw Kirby and Wuzzy sleeping side by side in our bed. Of course it was Wuzzy. One time last week I watched Kirby annoy Wuzzy to the point of getting a growl and a whack on the noggin. Then they both spotted and hunted a bug, jointly. Brothers.

So it is, a rainy Saturday, October 12, 2013. Kirby is a Houdahenian.

[all photos in this post (c) Libby Hicks; EmmyLou chose not to be photogenic for this episode. A salute and thank you to the 81st Infantry "Wildcat" Division for their service. They were the first American division to wear a division insignia in combat. Much more about them can be found at ]

1 comment:

  1. for all the trouble these guys are and were, i imagine it's easier to take in a wild cat than a feral dog.