June has got a lot going on. It has National Hug Your Cat Day on June 4,- we hugged it out!-,and it’s National Adopt a Cat month! To celebrate, Birdie wanted her adoption story. All the other cats have their stories out there in the world. Soooooo…..
Birdie showed up in my backyard on a Saturday morning in August 2011. She was camped out on the back stoop of my patio in the sun watching the activity at my bird feeder. She seemed unconcerned that on the other side of the glass doors, Miles and Sookie had their faces pressed against the glass examining the strange cat.
She ventured from the stoop to directly under the feeder and then retired to my garden, hanging out under the tomato vines for the rest of the day. Despite having 3 indoor cats and hearing the outraged protests of my visiting mom and sister, I slipped out the side door to go inspect the visitor and give her a handful of kibble and some water. My reward was a series of chirps and an exposed belly role. She was still a bit of a kitten, maybe 6 months old. Unfortunately, in a cat’s life that’s old enough to have babies unless spaying or neutering occurs.
The calico cat in my yard weighed heavily on my mind all day, but I had to consider my established pets as well as the “Crazy Cat Lady” arguments of my mom and sister. Standing in my yard that evening, my next door neighbor and I watched as the lady on the corner turned on her porch light and stepped out signaling every stray cat in the neighborhood to come rushing to her porch. I saw a streak of orange dart from the side of my house to join the feeding melee. My neighbor mentioned that the other woman had been feeding the cats for a while now, so I mentioned my garden visitor. This set my neighbor lady off on a story about another neighbor on the block who had been debating taking the little calico in for over 3 weeks now. He just couldn’t decide what to do with the cat.
In my mind, debating over the cat’s fate for 3 weeks was ridiculous! It was more than enough outside time for her to get pregnant, diseased, or injured. One of my mom and sister’s main arguments was, “Someone else will take care of her.” So far no one had!
The next morning when I walked into my living room, there was a calico face staring in the upper window. She had climbed to the top of the six foot privacy fence and walked along it so she could call in the window: “Let me in!” So much for privacy.
I decided that was all that needed to happen. I went outside and coaxed her to the garage with treats and water. Packaging her up, we were off to the v-e-t. She was underweight, had ulcers inside her mouth, and was covered in fleas, but she was beautiful.
She became Birdie because of her chirps and burrs. It reminded me of a woodpecker’s call. Even her purr, has an unusual squeak to it.
The “rat ulcer” inside her mouth made her the sloppiest, slurpiest eater until it healed leaving one side of her lips crooked. We immediately signed on for a spaying, and, to my horror, they put the incision through her three orange tummy spots. Ultimately the spots grew back, but in the mean time Birdie chewed her stitches (foreshadowing to her future difficult approach to things) and was forced to wear a kitty cone for several weeks.
At night while in isolation, she yelled at her reflection in the bedroom window and pawed at the glass, forcing me to leave her with only a tiny night light. When socializing, she yelled at all the other cats and told them-LOUDLY- that she hated them. They were tolerant of her hissing, spitting, and yowling to a point. Maybe they pitied the cone. In the early days, it was not unusual for her to come running to me with a bloody scratch across her nose because Sookie had decided to put her in her place.
I neglected to inform my mom and sister that I had brought Birdie in to the house for a good 3-4 months out of some strange guilt that I now had “OMG 4 CATS!” Their top guesses when I told them that I had been keeping something secret were that I was pregnant or gay, or both. Whichever.
Birdie is a beautiful pain in the ass who loves the nip, can be ridiculously aggressive, hangs out in the bathtub, and sleeps in the curve created by my feet. She has been a Cat Welfare calendar girl, and encourages you to make a voting donation to the shelter’s annual contest, helping other kitties become someone’s beautiful pain in the ass. Voting ends June 12 at midnight.