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Monday, May 23, 2011

Hot Dog Comes Home

We once had a little kitten we named Hot Dog. He was named this because of his penchant for bits of weiners that we would give him as a snack. All day long, Hot Dog would sit at the patio door and wait for it to open so he could dart in and run to the fridge. There he would sit until someone noticed him. Then he would roll on his back and do his “cute routine” until he was rewarded with a hot dog bit. He wasn’t very vocal – not like Sheila, our self-proclaimed house cat, who hollers a blue streak until she gets a small handful of cat treats. Hot Dog was a well-loved kitten. But he resisted being made a pet. He preferred to be outside.
On Sundays, when family came over for dinner, people would comment on the fact that Hot Dog didn’t seem to be growing. He maintained his kitten size for months. Perhaps that is part of what endeared him to everyone. He even won the Farmer’s heart.
One day when I came home from an outing, I found the Farmer sitting on the couch watching TV, with his faithful kitten tucked in beside his hip, sound asleep.
At our annual farm party in August, one of our guests held Hot Dog on her lap for the entire evening. He just lay there calmly as about 50 people streamed in and out of the house, making all sorts of noise. He seemed to enjoy the activity. He wasn’t your typical feral barn cat. He was a people cat.
One day last September, Hot Dog wasn’t at the door when I went out in the morning. I searched the stable, where he often slept in the hay. He wasn’t there either. The next Sunday at dinner, I dreaded telling everyone that he had disappeared. I wondered what had happened to him. Maybe he got eaten by a coyote?
“He’s so trusting, he would probably just walk right up to a coyote and try to play,” someone said. I worried that the neighbour’s dogs had eaten him. He was too small to be chased off the farm by another dominant male. This often happens with our older cats but not kittens.
Maybe I had given him too many hot dogs, and he had a reaction to the overload of nitrates. Poor little thing. Anyway, whatever happened, he disappeared for a few months.
One day a couple of medium-sized gray tabby cats showed up on the back porch. I can’t remember when that was. I keep looking through my photos trying to remember the first time I saw them. I know that one of these cats has always been wild and scared, while the other has been quite tame. Funny that I didn’t make the connection and realize that it was our dearly beloved Hot Dog. I guess that’s a sign that I have too many cats. I no longer recognize them.
Now I am taking every opportunity to pet this lovable cat, so that he will remain tame and easy to manage. That way, if I have to give him medication at some point, it will be easy. Or if someone wishes to adopt him, he will make a good pet. I noticed that Sheila has chosen him as her favourite wrestling partner. They spend hours rolling around the lawn together as one big fluffy ball of kitten.
I still wonder what his story is – what made him disappear for a few months? Did he simply feel winter coming and head to the barn to nest? Only Hot Dog knows for sure, and he isn’t telling his secrets.
I guess I have something to add to my grocery list, to welcome him back. A package of tasty hot dogs.

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