When I moved to New Mexico I built an enclosure for my cats so that, in spite of the wildlife population surrounding my land, they would get to have an indoor/outdoor experience, even if it was somewhat limited. I have five, count ‘em, FIVE cats (it was six until I lost my dear Little Girl last winter—I’m pretty sure, at 60, this officially makes me the cat lady—but I don’t care). Out of my five remaining kitties, I live with three boys. Tobey and Raven are youngsters, very athletic, and they regularly busted out of the kitty garden I’d made for them in Utah. I’d pretty much reconciled myself to facing their displeasure at this more thoroughly constructed enclosure and was ready to let them out the front door to live likely shortened, but truer-to-their-natures, lives, as soon as they made their positions known. But THEY NEVER DID! They LOVE the kitty enclosure!
Imagine my surprise when it was my big man, Bubba, who expressed his concerns over his confinement. It’s true he doesn’t like using the kitty door and it was warm enough in Utah most of the year to leave the door open so he never had to, but Bubby hangs by the front door and pines. He’s even made a run for it on several occasions. I keep telling him that I love him too much to let him out–that he’d be a quick snack for some coyote, and that’s always been that. Until today.
It was very spring-like this afternoon. Most of the snow is gone and we’re into spring-melt mud and dead grasses. I was at the easel working, and I turned around to see my Bubby Bear gazing out the front door. And for the first time (I’m ashamed to admit I’d never thought of it before) I thought—hey, I can take him out supervised! He wasn’t going to run away and I’d be there to keep him safe. So I opened the door.
There was no hesitation. My big man headed out. We’re going to do this regularly, folks, because, I swear, if a kitty can smile, Bubba was grinning from ear to ear. He wasn’t inspired to wander too far on this first outing, but there will be other journeys—I’m thinking Kelee AND the Land Grant trail!
Bubba’s story is unknown. I met him when I volunteered at a no-kill shelter in Utah. One day the director arrived and there was Bubba, in a feral trap, left in the center of the cat room floor. Probably the town police had brought him in. And here’s the thing: He was terrified, but he was no longer feral. It was obvious he had been at one time because one of his ears had been clipped the way they are for catch and release programs when feral communities are being managed. And there’s another sign: He loves to be petted when he eats. I call it his kibble loves. Any of you who have rescued feral animals before know this is how you do it. You feed them regularly until, slowly, they trust you enough to let you touch them while they eat. I tell Bubby all the time how thankful I am that someone took that kind of time on his behalf. I also tell him I wish I’d known him when he was a kitten because I know he had to be simply ADORABLE!
At the shelter Bubba had taken up residence in a little cat tent on the wide windowsill of the only window in the room. He pretty much never left it. But whenever I arrived he’d meow this kind of Siamese growl meow at me (the last thing you’d expect since he’s the antithesis of anything Siamese) and wouldn’t stop until I came to pet him. I tell him, now, I’m so glad he chose me to flirt with at the Ivins Shelter! Otherwise I never would have noticed him in his tent. Petting him was dicey. It had to be in certain ways and only on certain parts of his body or serious claws would be involved. It has taken many years for us to learn each other’s preferences, but I’m happy to say we have.
So one day the big man came home with me. Only Tobey required some adjustment. Bubba just moved in, never looking back. Oh, and the shelter donated his tent to us so he’d feel comfortable in his new home. But you know what? He never used it. Not once.
And as for tradition, if Bubba’s rescuer happens to see this post and recognizes him, please know we honor you daily with our own version of kibble loves.
Today’s header photo was shot by Craig Scogin.