Because we are getting on in years and I have severe arthritis in both knees, I decided several years ago that as our beloved pets passed on, we would not acquire new fur and/or feathered friends. 

PaddyHowever, a small white and gray kitten had other ideas.

Having lost Toby, a beautiful tabby cat at the age of 14 due to diabetes complications, we were down to only one cat in our little zoo, and that was Toby's brother, Tyler, who was then nearing 19 years.

My husband had for some time been making comments about acquiring a kitten but I was firm in my decision.  "No more kittens, cats, puppies, dogs or birds."

One spring day I heard my parakeets that live in an outdoor aviary, shrieking in alarm.  This was something they rarely did so I ran into the backyard to see what was going on.  To my surprise, a scrawny little white and gray kitten was on top of the roof of the aviary.

When I arrived, the kitten jumped off the aviary roof and then fled around the side of the house and was out of sight.  The next day while looking out the kitchen window, I saw the kitten sunning himself on top of a woodpile that my husband had not yet hauled to the trash.

I told my husband that I had seen the kitten again and he replied he had seen the kitten several times and that he was living inside of the woodpile.

Sure enough, that very evening I saw the kitten squeeze inside the woodpile.  I warned my husband, "Do not feed that kitten!  If we don't feed him, he will go away."  My husband looked at me as if I had gone nuts because I am the one who is always feeding every animal and bird that comes to our yard.

I was determined not to feed that kitten.  And I didn't.  Not for seven long, long days, when I saw the kitten many times, wondering what he was eating in order to survive.

After a week my resistance was gone.  I placed a bowl of cat food on top of the woodpile.  The next day the food was still there. I placed fresh cat food in the bowl, but it was not eaten either. Finally, on the third day, the food was gone that evening.

The next step was to bring food to the kitten and get him to eat it while I stood watching close by.  At first he would hide inside of the woodpile meowing, clearly wanting the food but too scared to eat it while I was there.

Gradually, after a few days he would crawl from out of the woodpile and greet me as I brought him food.  I went to the pet store and bought a small carpeted scratching post with a cat bed on top, a litter box and some cat toys.  I placed the scratching post and litter box in our green house that at the time was lacking a door.

I started seeing the kitten go inside the greenhouse and could tell that he was sleeping in the cat bed and using the kitty litter box.  During the evenings, I sat on the deck playing with the cat toys.  After a few days the kitten cautiously began playing with me and the toys but still was not allowing me to touch him.

Finally after a month, I could pet him, stroke him, rub his belly and hold him in my arms for a few seconds.  Then, after six weeks of gaining his trust, I picked him up, placed him inside a cat carrier and took him to the vet for his shots and neutering.

Today, five years later, the kitten has grown into a plump little cat, weighing 14 pounds and is named Paddy.  While Paddy prefers to stay outside most of the time, he slips into the house through the dog doors several times a day for food and affection.

Paddy loves my three dogs without reservation and they love him back.

We often find Paddy curled up sleeping with one of them on their dog beds and sometimes I wake up at night to find him sleeping in bed with us, which always gives me a little thrill.

I am so glad that Paddy chose to live in our woodpile.

  -- Earla Jean Hollon  <ehollon at fulbright.com>

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Earla says, "I live in Pasadena, Texas, with my very patient husband, and a small zoo consisting of 3 dogs, 1 cat, 2 box turtles, 3 sugar gliders and numerous small parrots." ___________________________________________

 


A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

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