Time for a Flashback Friday post!
Originally posted on April 5, 2018. One of my favourite posts. Cat lovers, proceed with caution.
As a child, I loved cats.
However, the title of “Tammy’s Favourite Cat” was dubious because they all died. Natural causes. Alright, semi-natural.
My history with cats is traumatic – and a tad gory. Feline lovers, you may require tissue.
I grew up on a dairy farm in the hamlet of Geysir outside Arborg, Manitoba. Hamlet sounds so quaint.
Our farm was overloaded with cats. In the evening when all 70 to 80 meowed at once – it was Alfred Hitchcock-like. A main contributor to the feline population was Puffballs, a tabby tomcat who visited every winter. He’d ship off, and lo and behold, the following spring would bring baskets of kittens! Most resembling Puffballs. Luckily, we had a large barn.
Like a beehive has its Queen Bee, we had a monarch cat: Lucky. A sleek and sophisticated tabby with her own sleeping area – and milk bowl. When Lucky birthed kittens, a hush fell across the farm. Lucky’s kittens were coddled – and the first-born was held up by a mandrill … wait, that was The Lion King.
Lucky birthed my first favourite kitten, Rainbow, who was brown with orange dots. We kept Lucky’s kittens in a silicone castle with padded carpet. So, an extra large red plastic crate with straw. One day, I couldn’t find Rainbow. Until I dug into the straw. What kitten dies when they’re barely a month old? The start of the curse.
I moved onto Gizmo, who looked similar to Rainbow.
*Graphic Content Ahead*
Our barn had two portions. Cow stalls and the straw and hay area. When the cows were ushered into the barn, a heavy partition was secured to the walls to keep them from running towards the delicious straw and yummy hay. Nothing could break down that board.
A cow dispelled the myth. The Holstein pushed the board down and entered into the area. Stepping on the board. Where Gizmo was before it fell.
After losing Gizmo, I was given an adult house cat named Garfield and my sister received a part-Persian named Precious. However, Garfield wouldn’t be living in our house. Instead, he faced the rest of his adult life in the barn, where he had issues adapting,. Garfield would sit on his haunches and watch the other adult cats lap from two large containers. And the kittens, as they dipped their tiny tongues into a smaller bowl. Garfield would sit there, staring at these uncivilized cats. Climbing over each other like animals. I’d pour milk into a separate container to appease Garfield. He’d look at me as though to say, “Thank you, tiny human, for this gruel.”
One day, my dad called the local veterinarian to deliver a calf. Once the cow delivered the calf – which died – the vet entered his vehicle, backed up and … there was spray of blood. The vet felt horrible. Apparently, Garfield fell asleep on one of the tires. At least Garfield went in his sleep?
Next was Cotton. Ah, Cotton. A short-haired white kitten with three orange dots. An orange tail and orange “H” on his face – and one orange paw. I have one photo of Cotton – hidden behind other cats. Had I known Cotton’s future ….
Cotton was loyal. He recognized his name. He’d greet me off the bus with my dog, Patches. When I was reading or writing, he’d climb onto my lap and sleep. Outside, of course, because cats weren’t allowed inside.
In 1986 before my parents sold our first house, I sneaked Cotton inside. The television hadn’t been moved, and we fell asleep watching The Wonderful World of Disney. I held up Cotton’s paws, and when we woke up, he turned to me, yawning and blinking his sleepy blue eyes.
But on August 20, 1986, Cotton went missing. According to my diary, I searched and searched for him. That October, my sister said she saw Cotton, bloody, as though he’d been in a fight – and he probably went somewhere to die. But I knew he was out there – somewhere. The following February, my family was driving home from Winnipeg and there was a storm. I cried because I imagined Cotton fighting against the snow – meowing and shivering.
In my mid-30s, I learned the truth. My “legendary” cat history came up – along with Cotton and his death. Death? Well, this was new. The day Cotton went missing, I also wrote: “… dad killed a skunk, He got sprayed.” I learned this translated to: Cotton verses skunk, Cotton lost, skunk held accountable. Cotton – nine months old – had been buried in our pet cemetery for decades. Yes, we lost enough cats to warrant a pet cemetery.
I couldn’t imagine another cat jumping into Cotton’s paws. But, a year to the day when Cotton disappeared, Cuddles entered my life. A fluffy, spunky, grey kitten.
I found Cuddles inside a wall of the sectioned off calf area. I put straw inside to make the spot comfortable. And I’d bring him – and his brother – their own tray of milk. But Cuddles liked to roam with the other – best estimate – 80 cats. They’d stake out sleeping spots. Every barn photo shows cats on window ledges or the cow stall boards – meanwhile, Cuddles and his brother slept inside that wall. I made sure Cuddles was in there every night.
But one October night, I didn’t check.
The next morning, I skipped to the barn to play with Cuddles. I reached into the space. No Cuddles. I told my dad – and not a minute later he found Cuddles.
Cuddles, true to his name, decided to cuddle with a cow. It’d been a chilly night and the cows were kept inside. The cow must have turned over in her sleep. Again, at least Cuddles died in his sleep.
Cuddles was my last favourite cat. I thought maybe his brother? I could name him Cuddles II. But he kept hissing at me. Point taken.
There’s a beautiful orange cat who keeps jumping onto my veranda. He’s the neighbourhood cat, a.k.a., homeless. He likes tuna, salmon – and loves the tuna from Subway. He came by last week, and I gave him a can of cat food I had on standby. Just in case he dropped by. I’ve been told not to feed him, but I’m not letting him starve. I named him Shane since he’s the twin of my childhood cat of the same name. That Shane escaped the “Tammy’s Favourite Cat” curse.
But I can’t keep this Shane. First, I rent my home, and I’m not allowed pets. Second, cats shed. And third, once Shane becomes “Tammy’s Favourite Cat,” it would substantial shorten his life span.
I couldn’t lose another cat. Not for the eighth time. Yes, eight.
I didn’t mention Cotton II and Candy Floss.
If you find a stray cat, here are tips from D’Arcy’s Animal Rescue Centre
D’Arcy’s is a no-kill shelter.