‘Here kitty’ keeps Karolevitzes in cats

'Here kitty' keeps Karolevitzes in cats by Bob Karolevitz In addition to Baxter and Bailey, Phyllis�s indoor cats, she also has a couple of outside mousers. (At least at last count there were just two.)

Unfortunately, she made the mistake of naming them, so now they are ours.

Misty, a black and white cat, has already cost me a hysterectomy. (Phyllis calls it �spaying.�) She feeds it in the garage, and the only time she can get near it for petting is when she gives it the expensive pellets.

Pickles is something else again. It is a feral feline, of that I am sure. Not only is it unapproachable, but it takes out its pugnacious nature on the more amiable Misty.

They are both survivors, however: a couple of strays who have found a good thing!

I�ve said it before, but there must be a sign down our driveway which only abandoned cats can read. It probably says: �A sucker lives here, and if you want a free meal, this is the place.� That must be the reason why so many homeless animals find their way to Phyllis�s largesse.

If she ever mounts a soapbox, it will be to preach against thoughtless people who dump unwanted pets in roadside ditches to fend for themselves. Those that survive are either fortunate � like Misty and Pickles � or they go wild, which is what most of them do.

Getting back to Misty, she really wants to be a house cat. She comes in every chance she gets, only to be put out again and again. That gives us a clue that she was once a family pet who was tossed out for whatever reason.

Turning back the calendar, there once was a time when farmers who milked had lots of cats hanging around, waiting for their ritualistic hand-out. They earned their keep by insuring that the barn was free of mice � but that day is gone forever.

Now that most country folks do not have one or two cows to provide for their larder, the cats miss their twice-a-day squirts. Phyllis, a farm girl, remembers feeding a bevy of mousers when she was milking. She also recalled how her beneficence once backfired.

In her inimitable fashion, she bent down to pet a stray � and it bit her!

Her doctor, thinking that the cat might be rabid, advised her to quarantine it to see if it was really sick. Dutifully, she caught it and locked it in a small wire cage. But then her innate compassion took over, and she transferred it into a much larger wooden chicken crate so it would have more room.

Needless to say, the cat chewed it way out and escaped to who knows where. Her physician then had no other choice but to prescribe anti-rabies shots, and Phyllis got 14 pokes in the belly. It hurt a lot, too.

Wouldn�t you know, several months later the cat showed up again, fat and healthy. Phyllis had endured the painful inoculations for naught � except that it taught her a lesson not to say �Here kitty, kitty� and to pet every rejected beast which finds its way to the farm.

I think Misty and Pickles are okay, but there�s no sense taking chances. Another stray cat is sure to come along, however; and I�m not positive that Phyllis won�t revert to her tenderhearted streak and get bit again.

� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

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