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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sheila Shortfat the Housecat

The plan was that the two kittens would keep each other company while they were in the
house being treated for their various viruses. For the first month, that plan worked very
well. They came when I called, and I found that if I wore fingerless gloves I could put
drops in their eyes and antibiotics in their mouths without having my hands scratched to
The one I called Shortfat really wasn’t very sick – her eyes cleared up in a couple of
days. But she had to stay in the basement to keep the smaller, weaker grey and white
kitten from feeling scared and alone.
Then, one day, the eyes cleared up and the breathing was back to normal. The kittens
were cured. And they had no intention of going outside. First of all, in the two months
since they had come in, winter had arrived in full force. They had not grown a coat of
winter fur and they were quite shocked by the cold. Secondly, they were now considered
outsiders and threats to the other cats who put up a fight every time I tried to re-introduce
them to the pack.
I put a poster in the vet clinic and grocery store. Someone called and made an
appointment to see the kittens. While I was at work, my daughter adopted out the grey
and white kitten, the smaller and weaker of the two. Shortfat remained. Again I tried to
shove her outside to join the other cats in the barn. She would go and explore, but within
minutes she would be back at the door, screaming for re-entry.
So now we have a housecat. “How did this happen?” asked the Farmer. “I don’t
remember discussing this.”
Well, neither do I. It just sort of happened. I’m allergic to cats. I’m not supposed to have
them in my house. But Sheila (we felt she needed a real name) adopted us. Now instead
of mousing and playing with her friends all day, she entertains herself in the basement
while we’re at work. When I come home I find her collection of treasures at the bottom
of the stairs: a pompom from an old winter toque, an eyeball from a discarded teddy bear;
a crumbled piece of duct tape from my husband’s workbench. She even has an old ratty
baseball that she uses as a sort of yoga-pilates ball, rolling herself over it on the floor.
And the grooming. Sheila spends hours grooming herself every day. I’ve flea-sprayed her
and flea collared her, but she continues to nibble and comb and pick and bite, constantly.
She has white fur, so a flea should be pretty easy to spot upon inspection. I don’t think
she has any. She has just become rather obsessive-compulsive since she became an
indoor cat.
Oh, and thanks to Bill Gooch for giving my cat a taste of Whiskas-in-the-pouch. She is
now addicted. And doesn’t wish to eat anything else. The only place I have found this
food is at the dollar store. Two for a dollar. And she wants at least three of these pouches
a day. I also keep dry food in her bowl, because if it is empty she complains.
This is one spoiled cat.
In the spring we are hoping she will venture out-of-doors once again. Then again, we
might miss her lying in wait around corners to ambush our ankles as we pass by.

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