Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Legend of the Little House in the Woods
I love this picture of our cat Shadow. Her name suits her.
Last year we adopted Bobby, another stray cat who appeared outside. He has a tipped her, meaning he came from a feral community. He was cold and hungry, covered in ticks; it was obvious no one was taking care of him. Shadow has the same story, except she had a twin brother, Smoky, with her, and they didn't have tipped ears. And now, in the past couple weeks, another cat has arrived outside. We believe it's a large female, with a tipped ear. It might be a fixed male, not too sure. But it's a large cat, with big feet. I call her Brindle, to describe her color. She has a sweet meow. I'm working on getting her to accept pets from me; right now she's wild and won't come near unless there's food, and even then she stays a few feet away.
Where in the world are all these cats coming from????? Who is dumping them here??? We guess that maybe one of the other farms in the area pick up stray cats from a feral community and dump them in their barns, wanting the cats to be "barn cats" to control mice. Evidently, they don't feed them, and the cats wander away, starving, and find our little house in the middle of the woods, and I'm a kind soul who can't turn away a hungry mouth.
I like to believe in the legend of the little house in the woods. I think that all the wild animals in the forest tell the cat to find the little old house in the clearing in the woods, that's where the nice people live. They will be fed and if they're lucky, taken in, once they find the little house in the woods. The birds and the woodchucks and the deer and the fox and the coons all know about the little house in the woods and pass on the legend to the lost, alone, and wandering cat.
And so the lost cat wanders in the forest for days, sometimes in the freezing cold. He eats mice and bugs during his search, some days he eats nothing at all. The vultures watch him from above, telling him to hurry up and die. The coons encourage him, telling him to follow the coon paths through the thickest and darkest part of the woods to the house. All coon paths eventually lead to the little house.
The cat searches for days and finally comes upon the back barn, haggard and starving, with a matted coat and ticks drinking his blood, too exhausted to bother with cleaning himself. Then he has to make it past Jerry, the guard cat, who according to the legend, lives outside the house but travels sometimes. Jerry is rumored to love to fight and will defend his property. But sometimes he's not there at the house, he's out fighting in other areas of the woods, and the lost cat is lucky enough to make it to the yard of the little house.
The fnal test of courage are the guineas who patrol the yard surounding the house. According to legend, they are a strange dinosaur bird that walks the earth even now, with bony horns on their heads. They chase everything that moves, they move in a large flock, making them hard to avoid, and they have a horrible cry that may make the lost cat deaf. The legend says that many animals, even the largest horned deer and the quietest woodchuck, have been chased away by the screaming, charging guineas.
When the lost cat makes it past all the obsticles and finally arrives at the back porch of the little house in the woods, he is fed and gets milk and praise and love and never wants to leave. And he finds out Jerry isn't that bad after all, he's a little grumpy but actually he just wants a friend to play with, not to fight with.
I wish I knew the real story behind all the strays, but for now, I'm sticking with the legend of the little house in the woods.
at 5:30 AM