Last week my husband found himself in need of a computer monitor. In our part of SE Utah, if you need affordable computer parts of middling quality right away, you drive the 160 mile round trip to the nearest Walmart, located in the shadow of Mesa Verde in Cortez, Colorado. He left late and returned home about 1:30 a.m. Our household keeps late hours so we were all up when he arrived. He came through the door in obvious distress carrying something wrapped in a sheet of plastic. He’d hit a cat that ran out in front of him near a neighbor’s house about a mile and a half away. When he stopped the car and turned it around to see what had happened to the cat, he found it lying in the road, down on its side but still breathing. Rather than wake the cat’s (possible) owners at 1:30 in the morning, he brought the unfortunate creature home. Continue reading “Oreo v. the Expedition”
One night last week I was out late on the back porch pushing my special needs daughter up and down the porch in her wheelchair. My husband was out there, too, and we were talking. The porch is a rickety, second-story affair, so it creaks as I walk. The wheelchair rattles. If our neighbors here lived as close to us as our neighbors in Payson or Provo did, somebody would probably complain that we make too much noise late at night. Here, everyone sleeps comfortably distant from each other. I can walk out on the back porch anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a contrary child and not fear that I’m causing a disturbance.
So there I was, walking, talking. Then I heard below the plaintive mewling of kittens. Looking over the railing, I saw them creep around the corner of the house, following my voice, my creak, my rattle–one dark one and one dark and white one, at least. We dispatched the kids to fetch the kittens. They brought in two younguns, a grey tabby, very compact of body, and a larger grey and white kitten with very big ears. They were lost–quite possibly abandoned–they were cold, and, in our stretch of the woods, they were imperiled–walking popcorn chicken for hungry owls and coyotes. We brought them inside.
They’re about eight weeks old and very energetic. They litter-trained right away. Of course, they exude cuteness and are, in my opinion, above-average innocent. They’ve been in the house for several days now, and besides pulling pranks like chewing the blossom stem off my daughter’s beloved carnivorous sundew plant, walking on computer keyboards and wreaking other mild, housebound-mammal havoc, they seem like nice cats. We enjoy them.
The problem is, we already have four adult cats, which is about as much as I think this house and yard can handle. That led me to wonder if anybody out there in bloggerland might like to adopt a couple of kittens. I hope that anyone interested in taking one cat might take the other as well, because they’re sisters and they love each other. I understand that taking on two cats is rather more than most people care to do. But after watching the social behavior of the horse herd behind our house, seeing how the wild turkeys watch out for each other, spying from a cliff on a herd of romping mule deer in the canyon below, and observing the dynamics in play between our four grown-up cats, I have come to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the casual human practice of splitting up animal families.
Of course, the young of many kinds of animals disperse on their own. For instance, around this time of year, young coyotes leave the home den looking for their own territories. The coyote population of an area is density dependent; that is, if an area already supports as many coyotes as it can, the half-grown pups drift like seeds on the wind, looking for advatageous ground in need of more coyotes.
But these animals we’ve taken under our tutelage, stirring the pot of their genetic stories, employing in our service as workers and companions–they’re a different story. Cats, dogs, horses, cows–all the so-called domesticated species–it’s probably time we reconsider how we affect their lives and communities.
So … kittens, anyone?
October 2, 2009. This morning, as I walk down the road toward Crossfire, I barely avoid stepping on a small, silver-and-grey-winged butterfly sitting on the pavement, trying, I think, to warm itself after our first night of ice-on-the-dog’s-dish cold. The insect’s coloration matches that of surrounding gravel. Only its thin wings and their accompanying shadow tip me off in time. I veer. Very slightly, the upfolded wings lean away from my foot swinging past. It’s hard to not step on something that looks like a piece of your path. Continue reading “Field Notes #8”
When we moved into our current house four years ago, we noticed a pretty, tortoise-shell cat crossing the yard frequently, always on her way to somewhere else. Her usual route brought her in from fields to the north, from which she traversed our weedy plot then went under the fence on our south property line, across the grazed-down pasture, and into the pinyon-juniper forest that slopes into the head of the canyon. Or we might see her on the return trip. The cat’s small build suggested she wasn’t full-grown, and while she appeared to be wild, we wondered if this might be our cat. You know—that cat that comes when you need a cat. Continue reading “Dazzle”