September 2, 2009

A Good Mouser

Those of you who read my (often neglected) cat blogs know that one of our cats is missing ...

This is called tortie-tude.
Little Cat Zee AKA Catzee

... Catzee. The last time I saw her was August 25, when I let her out for the day. Usually she comes and finds me working outside, always happy to see me, full of purrs and pet-me's. It was odd because on that day I didn't see her once. She always came in early and went to bed around 8 PM, preferring day hunting. So when she didn't show up that evening, we were worried.

The rest of last week was spent doing all the things one does to find a missing pet The not knowing is the hardest part. I've gotten a lot of excellent support from the Cat Blogosphere including lots of encouraging comments. Among those however, is the occasional "the only safe cat is an indoor cat." While I respect their opinion, those of us who homestead understand that cats also make a purposeful contribution to such a lifestyle. There is a definite place and need for a farm cat.

At three years old Catzee was is an excellent farm cat. (I still have hope she'll come home, so I have to speak of her in present tense.) Her mouse-catching record so far, is three in one day. She's also caught at least one short-tailed shrew. And a chipmunk. That, after a major miss (pix here). Dan said she carried it proudly into the yard, holding on to it by its butt. But it took off like a bullet when she let go of it, and she never did catch it a second time.

We're not surprised that she's done such a good job. Back in our apartment dwelling days, she was better than any fly swatter and kept the place rid of all flies and other miscellaneous bugs. Even so, I've never seen her so happy as being outside, on the prowl for her next catch.

This, on the other hand...

Rascal, ME Rascal. He's a retired mouser. We call him our ME, our Mouser Emeritus. In his younger years he was an indoor/outdoor cat, and caught many a mouse and shrew. He was an excellent hunter, and I've seen him sit motionless for hours, staring at a mole hole in the garden. He didn't bring his prey home like Catzee, but I found many a dead mouse in the garden over the years.

He's slower and a lot more cautious these days. At nine going on ten he's not that old, but he's been through a lot. He's had 2nd degree burns on the pads of his feet from jumping on top of the wood heatstove, had his paw stuck under a refrigerator, and was almost killed by a dog. If Dan hadn't gone out to search for him he would have died from it, because he was too badly injured to make it home. He couldn't walk for quite awhile, but the only thing broken though was his tail, and he eventually recovered.

He later broke his tail a second time, trying to jump over a chain link fence. However, it was the three and a half years of being an indoor cat in an apartment that was tougher than anything he'd been through. He became very depressed, would do nothing but sleep, and gained over three pounds. He wouldn't purr, wouldn't play, wouldn't respond to his toys. Not even catnip interested him.

The worst came in January of 2008, when Dan found a lump in Rascal's "poochy" (our term for his belly flab, which, if spoken at the same moment one touches it, makes him really mad). He had surgery, and a biopsy revealed feline lymphoma, which meant a round of chemotherapy. A year and a half later he remains cancer free, and has lost most of the weight since being allowed outside once again.

He's not quite the cat he used to be however. He's not as quick and a lot more cautious. Still, now that he can go outside again, he's more his old self than he has been in a long time. Not too long ago I watched him try to race up a tree like he did when he was young. He couldn't keep his balance though and fell off. It broke my heart. We figure besides everything he's been through, he probably has a touch of arthritis from the broken tails and perhaps some adhesions from the surgery (he lost half his poochy.)

He does do some important things around the place however. He's a faithful companion and our alarm clock. Not to mention he'll talk your ear off, loudly I might add. [Unfortunately the word "quite" is not in his vocabulary of understanding. He does know "go lay down," which we will holler at him if it's 3:32 in the morning and we're not ready to get up yet. Well, he goes and lays down alright, but he still keeps on talking!] I'm just glad to see him happy again.

We definitely need a good mouser. I found this yesterday, having forgotten them on the wood pile for who knows how long.

Yup, those little black specks on those chewed up garden gloves are mouse poop. Granted, I don't know how long these have been sitting out (I am terrible at keeping track of such things). But the fact of the matter is, we can't live in the country without someone to take care of the mice.

It's been a week since we last saw Catzee. I know folks have had cats turn up after longer absences, so there's hope. Or maybe someone will respond to one of our posters or ads. While we haven't given up hope that she'll yet be found, there is a nagging question in the back of our minds concerning how long to wait before getting another cat. It's not easy to think about.

A Good Mouser is copyright September 2009 


Theresa said...

Leigh, I can't tell you how long to wait for Catzee. I suspect you'll be always waiting just a little for years to come.
We had to do something about rodents too. Nothing say Mouse Motel like a barn full of hay and grains. Locally there are a couple of groups that trap and treat feral cats and then adopt for almost nothing to be barn cats. The shelter won't. We got Buzz this way as a kitten (5 months) and locked him in the tack room for a little less than a week so he would get use to me, the home and make it his own. Juno came from my big animal vet, also as a feral rescue and about Buzz's same age. They live outside 24/7 . That's all they have known and are pretty savvy. Maybe a group in your area does the same thing, assuming you can bear to have an outside cat only.
Fingers and toes crossed here that Catzee comes home or you discover why she hasn't. It's harder not knowing.

Woolly Bits said...

I am not usually a cat person, but now I can understand your worry a bit better. we've had a cat coming in every now and then - but now she's been here the 4th day in a row! someone might be missing her in the village, but I don't know where she belongs and no posters or people asking about her around! I know feeding her might make her stay even longer, but I couldn't just let her starve either! she's quite thin and feeds greedily, so I assume she might not have been well looked after where she came from? not much in the way of consolation for you - you're looking for yours and I have a cat that doesn't belong to us! but hopefully your Catzee is looked after by someone too? I hope you'll be able to find her soon!

Life Looms Large said...

It's so hard when a pet is missing.

Sending strong wishes for Catzee to return home safe and sound and soon!!


Julie said...

I'm not a cat person but I've had a lot of cats and I know that it is so hard to even make them stay in the house. Don't give up hope yet!

Cynthia A. said...

I am so sorry that Catzee is missing. Please be sure to check all sheds and outbuildings, and have your neighbours do the same. Cats are so curious, and can't seem to pass by an open door without going in for a little "peek", then getting shut in accidentally.

Best wishes, I hope to see your next post with photos of the wanderer safe home once more!

Flower said...

Catzee may show up just when you think there is no hope. I found our cat in a neighbors garden shed. He had been locked up for days by mistake. I found him by going into the neighbors yard calling "kitty, kitty" and he meowed loudly. Look up the trees. They can climb, out of fear, and are not be able to get down. Hope!!

Renee Nefe said...

I like the ferral kitty rescue idea. I'm sure there are plenty of mousies for the cats to share...although I worry that the ferrals might not want another kitty on their turf and vice versa for your cats.
I really hope that Catzee is found soon. I also hope that she can tell you all about her adventures on her vacation.

Cathy said...

My cats are all inside cats but it took 10 yr Bunny a long time to adjust. We have foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks and many vehicles - too dangerous to let the cats outside.

Now I have to buy mousetraps.

Always something.

I really hope Catzee comes home soon. One of my farm cats disappeared for years - turned up in a pasture 3/4 mile away - she had gone feral (spayed) and came home for a bit before taking off again.

bspinner said...

Our Pesty was an inside/outside cat. One day I let him out and a very large tom from a neighboring farm killed him. I swore then I would not get another pet. My heart still aches for him and I feel it's all my fault he's gone because I let him outsie.

I'll keep my hopes up for Catzee. Who knows you might wake up one morning and find him meowing at the back door and walk in like he was never gone.

MiniKat said...

We're still waiting and praying up here. I hope she comes home.

Cally said...

What a worry a missing cat is! I do hope she turns up safe and well. When my mother moved to her home on the edge of a village one of her cats went missing and was gone for several weeks. Finally someone called from the next village! Oscar had turned up in their garden, rather thin and very hungry. My mother got her cat back and some new friends into the bargain.

A Joyful Chaos said...

I hope your cat shows up soon. It's no fun having a missing pet.

Dorothy said...

I've been thinking about this. I think I might wait 'til the end of the month... then if she's not back, get a pair of youngsters. The reason for getting two would be that then they'd play with each other and not tease Rascal too much. If Catzee came home, I don't think she'd mind, she'd just be so glad to get back.

Do you have your cats microchipped?

charlotte said...

I really hope Catzee turns up soon, it's hard to have a pet missing.

Geodyne said...

Poor Catzee. Poor you!

And you know, I can't look at that photo without thinking of her lovely cloth.

trapunto said...

So sorry Catzee hasn't come home. One of the places we lived, the shyest barn cat was gone for a year and a half before making an appearance while we were working in the garden. He was sleek and shiny and seemed mostly just to want to say hello. Then he left again. It was clear someone had taken him into their house.

Kathy said...

Leigh, Lois, from Stonehaven Farm, asked me to mention to you that she had a cat missing for three months come home. So, we're all keeping up the good thoughts that Miss Catzee will quit her foolishness and come home. :)

Our Mom said we'd all be out in the barn gettin' them mousies 'cause she has the same kind of mousy-poo out there. She said if we didn't live on a busy road or have neighbors who leave poison out for mice, we'd be "working for a living" - whatever that means. The peepul next door poisoned their own cat from something they left out for the mousies.
We know Auntie Catzee will come home soon.
L'il Rascal and Mooch

Janet said...

Thinking positive thoughts for Catzee to find her way home.

Sharon said...

I am so sorry, being a cat person myself. We have dogs, but I *need* my kitty. Growing up, Daddy had a whole slough of mousers, not pets. He fed them outside on cookie sheets and none of them had names. My cat was the only one who came inside and slept with me.

We need mousers here too, but the coyotes are too thick and I'm not going to feed cats to them when are plenty of rabbits. I know that you have to be heart sick and I am so so sorry.