18 January 2007

Story Time! Sparky and the Kittens

Once upon a time, not so long ago, before the DoD moved us to Florida, Mr. Abby and I lived Up North. We had a house, and it had a barn and a couple of ponds (it also had two bathrooms and a washer and dryer. Not that I'm bitter). When we bought the place the owners had horses and dogs and cats.

"Don't worry," they said, laughing. "All the critters are going with us."

Liars. They took the dogs, and the horses, and the emotionally damaged donkey, but they LEFT THE GODDAM CATS. And we're not talking about housecats, either. Or nice cats who lived outside.

We're talking about Barn Cats. They left us an indeterminate number of angry, antisocial Barn Cats. We were never clear on the number, because they were ALL orange. We had at least three. Maybe four, and possibly even five. I don't know. One was very large, at least one was normal sized, and one seemed to be retarded, as it wandered in circles and had crossed eyes.

And had they been "fixed?" Oh no, they had not. Hell, you couldn't even get near them, let alone catch them and take them to the vet.

So there we were, with this fabulous house we'd just purchased, and our two Bad Dogs, and this gang of cats that we were only aware of when we'd enter the barn and they'd go racing up the ladder to the hay mow.

That is, until they started coming in the garage. And peeing in the garage. It was a nice garage, too. Until it started smelling like cat pee. And they'd come in the window if they couldn't sneak through the garage door.

I can hear you asking now, "Abby, you guys are Gun Nuts! Why didn't you just shoot the cats?"

Well, we tried. Problem is, we actually kinda like cats, and couldn't bring ourselves to shoot them. We shot at them occasionally, but somehow, a couple of "expert riflemen" (by various DoD standards) continued missing.

Then the Bad Pups (my stepkids) showed up for the summer. And what did the cats do? They immediately produced a litter of three inbred orange kittens in the barn. And kids loooove kittens.

So we couldn't take advantage of the opportunity to trap at least one adult and the kittens and transport them to the Kitty Gulag.

Weeks passed, and the kittens moved out of the hay mow and took up residence under the mower deck of Mr. Abby's tractor. The kids continued to obsess about them, and we continued to envision the exponential growth of our inbred, garage-peeing cat population.

Have I mentioned that Sparky CANNOT ABIDE cats? Hates 'em. Several times he'd pursued the adult Barn Cats into a tight corner, whereupon the cat would claw his face most viciously, bite him, then escape. We'd already had one close call with him and an infected cat bite.

One afternoon, Mr. Abby took the Bad Pups and went somewhere. I went out the front door to get the mail, and Sparky escaped through it. Being a terrier, he made a beeline for the barn. Where the kittens were.

Shouting, I pursued him. The sounds of kittens yowls, Yorkie snarls and other horrid, animal fight noises were coming from under the tractor. I hit the dirt, reached under the mower deck and extracted Sparky. Noticing he was bloody, I carried him back to the house.

There was blood on his face and blood on his paws, and he was itching to get back in the fight. After ensuring both of his eyes were intact, I tossed him in the front door and turned to face the barn.

Shit. I had a bloody Yorkie, and, I was guessing, a scene of significant carnage awaiting me beneath the tractor. I figured he'd done a number on the still-quite-small kittens. I also knew that this was not something I wanted the kids to come home to. The situation needed to be dealt with, and as I was the closest thing to a responsible adult present, I had to do it.

I trudged toward the barn. I did not want to see what was under the tractor. I didn't want to have to engage in any kitten mercy killing. What I wanted, in fact, was for my Dad to come and Fix The Problem.

Oh well. Dad was 10 hours away. I entered the barn and flopped down on my stomach to look under the tractor. Sometimes, being a grownup sucks.

Three little pairs of eyes peered back at me. I reached under the tractor and scared the kittens out into the open. Where they proceeded to give me filthy cat looks. They were fine. They were licking their bloody little kitten claws.

I shrugged and trudged back toward the house. To examine my Yorkie. Who had LOST A FIGHT WITH KITTENS. I don't think he's ever really recovered.

In the end, the Bad Pups left at the end of summer. We kidnapped the kittens and, in what could be another whole NOVEL of absurdity, kept them sequestered in the house to give them some human contact. One went to live with a co-worker of mine and became the World's Most Spoiled Orange Cat. The other two went to the Kitty Gulag. And the rest? Well, I have to admit, we didn't mention that to the World's Greatest Tenant when he moved in...