Are We There Yet?

It’s been a long and difficult winter season for us. Since Les has retired, we have spent less time at the cabin than we ever have. We really thought things would be the just the opposite.

We started bringing kitty home because of some of the extreme weather we were having there. I just couldn’t bare to leave her out in the elements while we were down state. Well, let me back up…this all started with vehicle troubles, so it set a pattern of unpredictability. It has worked out the best for all of us. She has been safe and warm and we have peace of mind that we did the right thing. She is an important member of our family and we promised to take care of her.

Kitty came to us one very cold spring. We think someone dropped her off on the road in front of our property. She was a very young cat of about 6 months old, just the time the baby kitty cuteness wears off and puberty sets in. As we all know female cat puberty is not pretty. So, I’m sure it was, “get rid of that cat!” Most ignorant folks think domesticated animals, like cats can survive on their own because they can hunt small rodents for food. While this is all true, if this is not their lifestyle to begin with, chances for survival after being fed by humans is pretty slim, especially during 17 degree weather. The spring she came to us was one of the coldest in recent history. I don’t know how long she had been on her own, but she made her way through huge snow drifts and 12 inches of snow in the woods to our cabin porch.

It was evening and we had been at the cabin for a couple of hours. I was cooking dinner and thought I heard a kitty crying. I heard it several times before investigating. Since it was so cold outside, I really didn’t want to open the door and let the cold air come in.  When you open the cabin door there is no buffer since the cabin is so small. Door open, heat out, cold air in. Just that simple. So I did open the door and here she was. Just a little thing, scared and shivering. I tried to pick her up, but she was so scared she ran under the porch. I guess she thought that if I knew she was there, I would help her. And I did. I put some people food in a dish and set it out. She came up and ate. We played this scenario out over and over throughout the weekend. However, after that first night, we went into town and bought cat food for her. I would put the food out and she would gobble it up and run under the porch. I tried over and over to get her to come in. She was too scared to cross the theshold to warmth and safety.  It took weeks before she would trust us enough to come in. It was heart breaking to have to go back downstate knowing she would be there out in the elements alone without me setting food out each time she cried for more. We left a huge bowl of food on the porch and hoped she would be OK.

Upon our return a few days later the first thing we looked for was kitty. When she heard us pull in, she peeked out from under the cabin and when the commotion of us settling in was over, she would come up on the porch for her fresh food. We became attached to our new woodland friend very quickly. It took no time for her to let us pick her up and hold her, but weeks before she would come into the cabin. Once that happened, she would come in for short periods of time and then back out. Other than capturing her to bring her to the Vet for shots and spaying, we continued this relationship over the next year.

The following year, because of our attachment to her, we decided to try and keep her in the cabin during the most extreme weather over the winter. Other than her knocking everything off of the counters and shelves, she did quite well with a good food supply and litter box. However, she would bolt out  door as soon as it was open far enough for her to squeeze through. We weren’t sure if she would come back or hate us for keeping her locked up and not want to come back in. She was upset for a while and then came back in for more food and attention. We continued this throughout the winter and in the spring she would stay out while we were gone. We tried to give her temporary shelter by repurposing an old dog house into a “cat house”, but she never liked it. We would leave her food in the cat house hoping the other wildlife would not find it but the raccoons and chipmunks were delighted to think we were so generous to feed them such good food.

As kitty became dependent upon our companionship, she would hear our vehicle as we pulled in the driveway to unlock the gate and meet us there purring and rubbing on our legs. Although she would not let us pick her up, she made us feel as though she missed us during our absence and appreciated our return. After a while, she had our schedule down pat and would be hanging around the cabin as if she was anticipating our return. Later on, there were times when she would not come back to greet us until the next day which freaked us out thinking the worst had happened. No one is completely safe in the wild woodlands, not man or beast. We all have preditors waiting in the wings, but so far, she has always returned for food and love.

So now, kitty is on her way home, and so are we.