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Thursday, August 30, 2012

In which Little Man gets fitted for a headcone.

About a month ago, we had a visitor at the farm. He liked the warm welcome he received so much, he decided to stay. He now lives under my back porch, where the resident Tom is not bold enough to venture. Little Man, as I call him, is a strapping orange tabby with sad eyes.


We were practicing making wedding bouquets soon after the cat arrived back in July when my friend declared, “That cat has been run over. His tail is flat.” I took a closer look and, sure enough, the cat’s tail was decidedly flat with an awkward bend in it. It never seemed to relax or hang down. It was always straight up behind him, like the number 7.

The Farmer says he is Tiger, the cat that stole his heart a few autumns ago. Tiger was so named because he would hang by his claws from the head of a goose that the Farmer was plucking. Even though he was only a few weeks old and would fit in a coffee mug, Tiger was ferocious, and therefore hilarious and endearing. I told my husband that the new arrival could not be Tiger, because Tiger’s coat was white and grey. In fact, I’m quite positive this cat either wandered in from another farm or was dropped off on our lonely road by an irresponsible owner who no longer wanted to care for him, because the large orange tabby is quite tame.

He greets me when I slide the patio door open in the morning. A continuous string of vowels streams out of his mouth, which appears to be toothless except for two huge incisors. I tell him he will get a treat if he lets me put medicine on his ear, which has been raw since he arrived. He sniffs the tube of Polysporin (with 3 antibiotics and a painkiller) in my hand and submits to the treatment. Occasionally I also spray his ear with an iodine mixture because we once used that to treat a cow that had darted between a hay bale and a tractor spike, and it was quite effective in the healing process.

Little Man is quite well behaved when in my sight but I’m sure he goes off and rubs his ear in the dirt as soon as I’m not looking, because it isn’t healing as quickly as it should be.

Soon after he arrived, he let me wash him with waterless pet shampoo. It got rid of most of the greasy dirt that he probably acquired while hiding under a barn tractor. Now he smells much better. The other night, I decided to attempt a flea collar. Again he submitted without a fight. Then I got an idea. If he will agree to the flea collar, perhaps he will allow me to fit him with a recovery cone. That should allow his ear to heal, because he won’t be able to reach it with a paw.

I got most of our adult females fixed last year, so our cat population is pretty much under control. I don’t have dozens of kittens with eye infections like I did the first year. Instead I have three strapping young babes in my basement, being tamed on Temptations cat treats so they can be adopted out. Or something. Perhaps they will never leave the basement.

Our cats don’t normally fight – they have words with each other, but no one gets hurt because they are all talk. This ailing Little Man is a new situation for us. We don’t have a budget for taking stray cats to the vet so I’m hoping he has an extra-strong constitution.

And I’m hoping he will find another place to sleep, safe from Tom, because he won’t fit under the porch for a few days with that cone on his head. Maybe I should leave the door open on the playhouse. Don’t tell the Farmer.

Postscript: within 5 minutes of being fitted with a cone, Little Man (who has now been renamed “Wilmer” by one of our daughters) emerged from the garden with said cone hanging from a shoelace around his neck. So much for that idea.

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