Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oreo, Brian's miracle cat

A couple weeks ago a client called me, asking if I knew of anyone who would like a cat. A sweet little stray had been hanging around her neighborhood for four months getting food and attention from several families, but winter was coming on and no one was able to give "Oreo" a permanent home. I immediately pricked my ears. This summer Casper (as in friendly ghost), a little tomcat who had adopted us years ago and had been adopted by Brian as "his" cat, disappeared. Ozzie (short for ocelot, because of his exotic looks as a youngster), our other barn cat, is now 17 years old. Even though he doesn't look or act half that and loves attention, he will turn and bite you WHEN you are petting him, and will snag your hand or your ankle when you STOP petting him. Needless to say, he's not a "kid-friendly" cat, and Brian has missed his Casper. So I mentioned my interest, but also expressed my concern about getting Rick to ever neuter the cat, since he had never gotten around to Casper. (Remember, the cobbler's children have no shoes!) When my client said the neighbors had already agreed to take up a collection for Oreo's surgery before placing her (Oreo was assumed to be a female), I jumped at the opportunity and spoke for the cat.

Oreo's surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2, pending a negative test for feline leukemia. I got a call before I picked her up from the veterinary clinic that evening, saying she was negative AND already spayed, so there were no post-operative complications to worry about - hurray! Brian and I picked up Oreo just before going to his first swimming lesson. She was calm and quiet in the crate, and rubbed against Brian's fingers when he tried to touch her through the door. When we got home, we set Oreo up to have the run of the garage, and we stayed up late (for Brian) loving on "his" new cat. He was delighted with her loving nature, saying, "She's the best cat I ever had!"

By Friday mid-morning, I wasn't sure what to do, as Oreo had not yet used the litter tray and seemed desperate to get outside. I also felt pressure from Rick (which he told me later he hadn't meant to convey) to get Oreo accustomed to the barn, where she would be living. So with much trepidation, after introducing her to our dog Rosie through the carrier door (no reaction from Oreo), I carried her down to the barn. There we introduced her to Ozzie through the carrier door (he's MUCH bigger than she is). Oreo hissed. I moved Ozzie away, and Brian and I talked to and petted Oreo in the carrier. Finally, I shut the barn door and opened the carrier door. Oreo wasn't so sure she wanted out in this strange new environment where lived the biggest creatures she had ever seen in her life (the horses)! She peered out the sides and door of the carrier for awhile:

Finally, she came out and set about exploring the barn, mostly around the hay stack. Ozzie watched – and reacted with temper when Oreo tried to jump up where he was hiding (I don't think she could see him, because his hidey-hole was several feet off the barn floor). We kept talking to her, and loved on her whenever she circled back by us. She still seemed to need to go outside, so I opened the barn door, which she eventually went through. Sure enough, she found dry gravel in the adjoining tractor shed and relieved herself. Then she walked around the corner of the shed, down the bank and into the woods. Brian had been tailing her all along, and immediately got worried. I called to her, but she was walking away purposefully. Brian followed her as far as the brush would allow, and then came back sobbing about his cat leaving. What I had feared had happened, and I didn't know what to do or say! Of course we immediately prayed that Jesus would take care of Oreo, and bring her back to us. We also hung around the barn and woods calling to Oreo for quite awhile, before heading back to the house. Periodically, I looked and called again, and even more frequently, we prayed for her again, ending with bedtime prayers. I knew God could answer my little boy's pleas, but I also know He sometimes says no, and I was feeling heartsick for him, for me, and for a lost little cat alone in the woods with predators.

That night after Rick did chores, he felt compelled to search for her in the woods, with a flashlight, in the rain. He looked and listened; nothing. About the time he was going to give up, he thought he heard something. Considering that Rick has had compromised hearing ever since he fell from the back of the pick-up and landed on his head on the pavement, it truly is a miracle that he heard her, for she is a very soft-spoken kitty! He continued to call and search and found her, hiding in the trees on the edge of our pasture. He carried her back to the barn (where she panicked at the sight of the horses) and put her in the tack room, setting her up to stay in that secure area awhile with food, water, a warm bed, and a bigger litter pan (which she is now using).

You should have seen Brian's face when we told him the following morning that God answered his prayers and helped Daddy find his cat. He had to go down to the tack room in the barn in his pajamas and boots to see and love her before we left for church. He continues to go down several times a day to see "his" cat, and Rick and I give her more attention during morning and evening chores and any other time we go to the barn.

I'm not sure what our next step will be. We don't want to risk another wilderness excursion (do cats have guardian angels?); we've even discussed the possibility of making her a house cat. In the meantime, she is "queen of the tack room" and a "thief of hearts."

That's it for now at . . .


Kathy said...

Michelle...Cats DO have Guardian Angels! What do you think YOU are? :)
I think she would make a wonderful housecat once she gets used to using the box instead of outdoors -and you're halfway there!

(aka "The LeFevre Home for Wayward Cats")

Kathy said...

PS: Ziggy, Zuzu, Pixel, Europa, Max and Shadow said to say "Hi" to Oreo and "Chill" to Ozzie...(and they are holding a rabbit fur mouse to my head to make me type this to you!)