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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Penelope's Life-Changing Day


While the life of the average house cat may be long and leisurely, the life of a barn cat can be short and difficult. One way to improve the health and prolong the life of a female barn cat is to have her spayed so she doesn’t have to have any more kittens. Wednesday was Penelope’s lucky day.
Penelope was born three years ago (I think, from my photo album research), during my first summer as a Farmwife. She looks like a calico, but instead of orange, black and white markings, she has grey, peach and white colouring, making her what is known as a Dilute Calico.
This cat is probably the least feral of all of our barn cats. Since she was born, she has always been fonder of the humans than of the other cats. While most barn cats rub and nuzzle against each other, Penelope saves her lovin’ for the people. If I put my hand down to pet her, she arches her back and does a little hop up to reach me. This dance is repeated over and over, until one of us gets tired (usually me; not the cat).
Penelope also prefers to be fed separately from the other cats. She seems to be very worried about sharing a platter of feed with the others, and they usually respond to her nervous approach with a clawed swat to her nose. Penelope hops up onto the closest piece of barn furniture and I feed her there. I figured Penelope would be easy enough to catch, in comparison to our other mamas.
Tuesday evening, I lured Penelope into a cat carrier with Temptations cat treats. She didn’t even blink as I gently pushed her tail inside and latched the door. When she ran out of treats, however, it was another story. She rocked and rolled that carrier until it popped open at the plastic hinges. She pushed the lid to the side, crawled out and came and sat by my feet, looking up at me and demanding more cat treats.
I sighed. Clearly I needed a stronger cage. I crawled up into the stable loft and found the dog carrier that was double the size and strength of the cat carrier. It was held together with bolts instead of plastic hinges. But could I get her into a cage again?
It took a bit of coaxing but eventually Penelope was successfully lured into the cage. They don’t call them Temptation cat treats for nothing.
I drove the cat to the cat shelter in North Gower, where Penelope was scheduled to stay the night. Her cat treats would be the last food she would have until after her surgery the next day.
Early Wednesday morning, Penelope was delivered to the Riverside South Animal Hospital. There she entered into the Trap-Neuter-Return program for feral cats.
Surgery was scheduled for the morning, and I received a call when she woke up from her sedative, at about 3 in the afternoon. The patient was ready for pickup.
As a feral cat, Penelope was given a slow-release antibiotic and pain killer to facilitate recovery. She spent the first 24 hours in the house. I went down to the basement before bed and couldn’t find her amongst the stored furniture. I got a flashlight and finally I spotted her eyes flashing at me from inside the dollhouse. When she emerged from the basement the next day to wander the house, howling at every window and door, I knew she was ready to return outside.
Many thanks to Paul Lafleur of Village Kitten Rescue in North Gower (www.vkrkittens.com) and Dr. Dennett of the Riverside South Animal Hospital for everything. That’s one less mama cat I have to worry about. Now, who’s next?

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