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Friday, February 15, 2013

The cat came back, and so did the pheasant.

I pulled into the laneway one day and saw something that I thought was a wild turkey. It just stood there, looking at me. I slowly approached and it turned and ran into the cedars, its long red tail pulling a trail through the snow behind it. Henry!
We raised pheasants this year, and one of them got away. In fact it escaped a couple of times. I’m convinced it’s the same one. I don’t know how he lasted through those two heavy snowfalls, but he did. Maybe he joined a herd of wild turkeys and ate what they ate. They probably accepted him, thinking he was a skinnier, more colourful version of themselves. The European version.
In any case, he was back, and he was hungry. The Farmer put an ice cream container full of feed on the ground near the cedars, where he seemed to hang out. The next day the feed had obviously been eaten, hopefully by Henry and not a marauding squirrel. But we didn’t see the colourful bird again for a while.
In the meantime, I was busy adopting out my barn kitten, Junior. I had forgotten about the photos posted on the Village Kitten Rescue website so I was a bit surprised when Ashley called for an appointment. The Farmer, however, was thrilled. With the nastier weather we have been getting lately, the adolescent kittens are constantly darting through the door and into the house to warm up. They sleep in the barn with the animals where they are quite warm, but they do enjoy a nap in a sunbeam in the TV room. And they love to tear down the hallway upstairs, through the bedroom and bathroom and back into the hall, like a Monte Carlo race route. You can hear their claws ripping at the carpet as they gain traction and speed, only to crash headlong into walls and each other. Drives the Farmer nuts.
“Why do we have four cats in this house?” he asked me, disgusted. He is more of a dog person.
I promised to try again to find homes for these semi-outdoors, semi-indoors animals. And I thought I had found at least one, when Ashley called.
On the night of the appointment, I made sure all of the cats were in the house. Ashley and I sat on the basement carpet and tried to lure Junior out of his hiding place in the dollhouse. Since his trip to the vet last fall, however, he has become wary of cages and strangers. So he was having nothing of our attempts to trap him. I kept thinking to myself…if he is resisting being caught I’m not sure he will make a very good pet…but she really liked his colouring and wanted to try.
Finally the Farmer came downstairs with a huge net and a live trap. He was ever so helpful. I caught Junior, stuffed him in Ashley’s carrier, and off they went, Junior’s plaintive wail trailing behind them.
The next day I got the first of a string of reports by email. Junior was hiding in Ashley’s spare room, unwilling to come out and explore. The next day, he met and made friends with the other house cat, but he still resisted being touched by his new human and the slightest noise from the puppy sent him darting under the furniture. Finally he gave in and allowed Ashley to pet him while he ate bribes of cat treats, but he just wasn’t settling in. I thought to myself, well, that’s the way he is here. He lets you get close, but that’s it. No picking up, no cuddling. He’s just not that kind of cat.
The next day, the cat came back. He immediately went downstairs to his dollhouse, sniffed all the corners, then darted upstairs to the patio door. I slid it open and he ran out into the darkness. Five minutes later he was back, crying at the door to be let in. I let him in and he ran upstairs, his brother and sister on his tail. The Farmer just looked at me and shook his head.
Oh well. It will be springtime soon. Then we will open the patio door, the cats will run out and we won’t see them again until fall. Henry the pheasant, however, has been spotted again, standing guard at the driveway.

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