Welcome back! Last week, we put out a Call To Action. The Foundation is putting together a scholarship that will be awarded to a medical student from the LGBTQ community or a medical student who has a goal to serve in a clinic that serves this population. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
This week, I thought I would share some of the antics that have been occurring at the Tate Estate. You may recognize yourself in some of these stories if you are an animal lover.
For those of you who don’t know, we have recently added to our guardianship of pets. My father passed away and left behind his one-year-old cat, Rosie. Now, Rosie came from a feral cat that resides on our property. We call her mama kitty. She showed up around 10 years ago, thin, hungry, and my dad surprisingly broke his own rule and fed a stray. He felt sorry for her. We searched for her owner, posting all the legally required notices, but nobody came to claim her. She refused to come inside, or be touched, so we set out to trap her.
It took a very long time, but finally, success! I gleefully carried her to my home next door to my dads’ house, put her in the back bedroom with a litter box, food, and water, and proceeded to make her an appointment to get spayed. She had already produced three litters by this point, all of whom we captured, fixed, and found homes for, but it was exhausting.
I went down to the bedroom to check on her and found her sitting on the window sill, sadly meowing. Poor mama kitty, I thought, I’ll crack the window so she can at least breathe fresh air. I opened the window a mere two inches and left the room.
A word to the wise. Never underestimate the power of a feral cat who wants to get back outside. I heard the crash, opened the door, and to my utter amazement, she was gone. My screen in shreds, my window open, she was last seen running for the hills. We’ve never been able to catch her since, despite calling in a cat professional.
Now, I said all of that to say this, Rosie is her kitten. She had another litter, and my dad, grieving the loss of my mama, pointed to her on the back porch, and said, “When you catch this litter, I want that one”. He looked at me as if to question his own sanity. “Is that wrong of me? Am I too old?” he asked. And then I said the words that haunt me today…” No dad, that’s not wrong. When you pass away I promise I will take care of her“.
In our family, if you promise, that’s it. There is no getting out of it. There’s no loophole or mistakes. You can’t even blame an adult beverage. You’re done.
So back to Rosie living with us. We already had three special needs Boston Terriers, and two special needs cats. Don’t all animals have special needs? I think so.
We have a cat named Mr. B…he’s a rag doll and incapable of defending himself in a catfight, so he’s strictly indoors. He can open any door that has a handle on it, so we had to baby-proof our doors. He wakes us up by sticking out one claw and jabbing it into our flesh at 3 am, sometimes because he’s hungry, but most of the time because someone used the litter box and he can’t tolerate the smell. He’s very fastidious.
When David had to work from home during the pandemic, he was getting frustrated with Mr. B needing attention all the time. “Oh“, I said, “just put your IPad on the bed and turn on the fly game. That will keep him occupied”. “The fly game?” he asked. “Yes, it’s a free app that has flies on the screen. When the cat catches one, it splats, and then more flies come out…you know…to make it more challenging“.
He watched in disbelief as Mr. B sat, happily splatting flies for over an hour. When Mr. B gets bored, he gets into trouble. He’ll climb into a cupboard, then jump out at you as you pass by, or he’ll sit on top of the refrigerator, unwilling to look you in the eye when you challenge his notion that he’s a cookie jar.
We have another cat, Lucky, our orange and white feral we picked up in The Bronx. He reportedly successfully defended himself against three Pitbulls in his leaner years. He now sits on the bed, approximately 14 years of age, so fat that he looks like a chicken…large body, thin legs. We took him to the vet, concerned about his weight. The vet took him into the back room, and came out sometime later, bloodied, hair messed up. We were told to let him eat what he wanted and kindly don’t bring him back until it’s time for his last ride. If Lucky needed medications, he’d prescribe over the phone. And so we yell, “Dinnertime! Run Chicken!” when we call him to the food bowl. He’s quite the sight, running down the hallway so as not to be late. The first few licks of the wet food in gravy really are the best, aren’t they?
Our Boston Terrier, Tiffany, had weight challenges of her own. She came to us thin, having been in a puppy mill and given birth to three litters in her first two years of life. She’s very needy and is especially attached to David. When we took her to the vet for her check-up, he solemnly told us that if she were a human, she’d be featured on an episode of My 600 pound Life. We stared at the floor, faces hot with embarrassment. David and I are both overweight. Now our cat and our dog? We were officially the fat family.
Tiffany, however, was able to be put on a diet, and she is now a slim and trim little girl, who smiles when she’s happy and tosses out a major stink eye when she’s not.
Toro, our oldest Boston, was also the product of a puppy mill. They were breeding dogs to win blue ribbons in agility races. Now, Toro isn’t all Boston. He’s half Frenchie, known as a Frenchton. He’s thick. Not jumping material. So in his best judgement, this breeder was “breeding out” the last set of ribs on his dogs to produce more flexible contestants. This was all well and good…for the first couple of years. After that, the spine starts to crumble for lack of support. Toro will one day need a wheelchair and a diaper.
For now, he gets acupuncture every other week, and pain meds in between. His pain doesn’t stop him from harrassing our youngest Boston, Lokai.
Lokai came to us at 2 pounds when he should have been 5 or 6. He was born with a cleft palate and couldn’t nurse, so his breeder hand fed him until we could take him at 8 weeks. He was blind in one eye, which eventually was removed, and he eats his food sideways…tips his head to one side and sends out a tongue that the lead singer of KISS would envy. It’s as long as his body, I swear. The tongue comes out and scoops the food into his mouth where the few teeth that he has chews for all of two bites, then he swallows. It’s super gross. Just sayin’. We still LOVE him…
This lack of chewing often results in a, shall we say, “regurgitation” later on in the evening, usually after David has put fresh sheets on the bed, and has settled in with fresh pajamas and a good book. Blurp, right on his chest. “Lovely” David will say, with a sigh of resignation that this is his lot in life…to clean up dog blurps.
With a house already full of special pets, here comes Miss Rosie. She had been living as an inside-only cat at my dad’s assisted living facility. When I would visit, she was aloof, preferring only him, so I was more than a tad worried she wouldn’t be able to bond with me. We started her out in the master bathroom. It’s very large, and there was plenty of room for a cloth chair my dad sat on, my dad’s lap blanket, and her litter, food, and water. She settled in right away, sniffing his chair, and crawling under the blanket to hide. We nicknamed the room, “Rosie’s apartment”.
She stayed in there for several weeks, slowly warming up to us. She would sniff Mr. B under the door, and I even caught them touching paws a time or two. The only problem with Rosie was she was screaming to be let outside. She sat in the bathroom window and screamed…loudly…as in no sleep for the Tates. I really didn’t want to let her out, because I knew she may never come back…but lack of sleep finally convinced me to open that window.
As she took off, I resigned myself to another outdoor cat to feed, but I left the window open in the hope that she may decide to return. Imagine our surprise when we came back into the bathroom, and there she was, asleep on her chair! I was so happy!
She’s now trained up enough that we can leave the window shut, and she will come and get us when she wants it opened. This happened again last night before bed. Not unusual. I opened the window and closed the door to her “apartment” so our other cats couldn’t get out. That’s when I heard it. Blood-curdling cat screams. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom, just in time to see a black cat leaving “her” window, and Rosie jumping around as if she had gotten wet (she hates the rain). I looked down at the floor and it was soaking wet, as was the toilet seat. What the…EWWWWWWWWahhhhh!!! Cat pee!! That black cat had sprayed us!
This was a job for David. I was gagging and unable to cope. Never in my life…who DOES that?! What was his problem?! Was he mad because she was spayed? Unavailable? Not interested? WHAT?!
So now begins the process of trapping Romeo. He won’t like the outcome, I assure you, but the family jewels are coming off. I’m not doing this. Plus, he looked like he could use a meal or two…maybe some vaccinations. Maybe a new family to love him. That’s the thing about love…there’s always “just enough” to go around. We have an unlimited supply at our disposal, and if one sad, thin, little black cat needs us, then so be it. But first…the jewels and the legalities of searching for his owners, should they want to be found.
Yes, we live on 40 acres, but we are now full at the Inn. Regardless of how much property we have, it all boils down to how many can fit on a King-sized bed at night. You pet lovers know exactly what I mean. For all you non-pet owners, can I just say I’m jealous? What is it like to roll over without pealing animals off of you? Sounds like a good night’s sleep to me…
I’m sure by now you’re saying to yourself, “what does any of this have to do with a wellness blog?“. Hopefully, you laughed at least once while reading this, and we all know…laughter is the best medicine. Thank you for reading us, we really do appreciate you. Be well…and if you can’t be well, be a cookie jar, like Mr. B.
P.S. My husband is a saint.
Bless you for taking in the special needs! They surely add something to your life that you can’t get otherwise. We have a whole herd of special needs goats…blind, heart murmur, old and infirm, runts that get pushed away from the food, those that are so timid they just get bullied. They are however, very affectionate (especially when hungry). They have taught me and my wife things that we could never learn from reading a book or watching a video.