beware the bad cat

before i tell you that i have seven cats, which sounds like the confession of a crazy cat lady (guilty), i should tell you that i will take in absolutely any sad creature that shows up in my yard. this includes wild animals that bite (seriously, kids, don’t try this at home). i’ve been known to relocate snakes from chicken infested areas to safer stone walls. i’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to foster several wild bird nestlings. if it looks sad, bedraggled, or lost, i will most likely do my best to make it happier, sleeker, or more at home.

so, i have seven cats.

only one of them was actually sought out during a cat-dry spell, young chuzzy who came (with his late brother, ewan) from a neighbour’s farm as a kitten, crusty-eyed and bulbous-bellied and fairly unattractive. the rest arrived one way or another.

it turns out that living in the middle of nowhere will ensure a steady supply of cats that are dumped off on the side of the road at the edge of a wilderness. one summer, it was a mama cat with seven nursing kittens, the tire tracks still clearly visible in the grass on the side of the road. i’d just found a home for the last of the kittens when an adult female cat showed up in our driveway. thankfully, the last kitten-taker took the adult cat instead, leaving the kitten with us permanently. another summer, it was a little black kitten, crying in a ditch, followed the next day by a tabby kitten that our neighbour found in roughly the same place. the road past our house is a conveyor belt into the maw of the savage garden and every once in a while, i find a dribbling that the foxes or fishers or coyotes or owls didn’t find first.

last summer, a black cat strolled out of the woods like it owned the place. my daughters went out and snagged it and shut it up in the bathroom with food and water and a cat box. round-headed like a tom cat, it proved to be a female who was generally friendly, but simultaneously the grumpiest cat ever. we named her mimi, after the noise she made if you attempted to interact with her, which was something like “mimimi-MImimiiiiiiiiiiiiii”. she rarely tried to bite and her claws weren’t terribly serious most of the time, but the caterwauling was like the voice from the mouth of hell itself. who needs pointy bits when you’ve got that kind of intimidation at your command?

mimi quickly became part of the family. she had atrocious manners. despite her cleanliness and friendliness, she seemed to have never lived in a house before. she had a hard time remembering where the cat food was kept and used the bathtub for a litter pan off and on for the first month. she was up on the kitchen counters constantly. she would snarl and yowl and scream any time anyone of any species drew near. she was seriously a bitter little pill.

indoors.

mimi, the dogs, and i go for a walk down the drivway
mimi, the dogs, and i go for a walk down the drivway

outdoors, she was (and is) a great little cat. she’ll follow you anywhere, for miles, happily. she comes for pettins and has even been known to rub her face on mine every once in a while, if i’m sitting very still. she’ll purr and dart around under your hands, raising the static in her fur. every outdoor chore since mimi came to stay contains a little dose of mimi in it. in deep snow, she’s out in the pasture with me, helping to fix fence. in the heat of summer, she’s creeping through the woods with me and the dogs. every evening, she is dividing her time between looking for mice in the shed and standing in my lap while i wait for the horses to finish their grain. she follows the kids out into the beyond.

the only way to keep her out of your business is to trap her in the house, if you’re canny, crafty, and lucky. she’s fast, determined, and seemingly happiest outside. she spends long winter days out there, never coming to the door. she spends most evenings out there, too, standing under trees and ignoring every attempt to lure her inside. she is, basically and at bottom, a really bad cat. and we love her.