Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Of the three cats I brought to my barn that early fall day, Polka Dot was the one you would notice. First of all even then she had such a lot of fur that I couldn't help thinking about Garfield the cat's, comment that he wasn't fat, he was fluffy. Well Polka Dot really isn't fat, she is very fluffy. But the second thing you will notice is that her markings are about as unusual as you have ever seen on what is called a Tuxedo cat, black and white, mostly black with a white tummy, sometimes feet and tip of tail but the chest and neck are what distinguishs them. On this white area Tuxedo's have lots of interesting spots. But Polka dot has 3 dots. One on either side of her nose and one on the tip of her nose. Polka Dot has well... polka dots.
She had a few more adventures than Lollipop, the shyist or Moonbeam who had one eye and was bold but still careful. One day Polka Dot found her way to the rafters in the storage room. It was just getting dark when I noticed she was nowhere to be found in the room. And at about the instant I spotted her high above me. But the worst thing is that I saw her back end. She had found a space large enough to wiggle out that opened into the barn.
This was after these cats that were discovered in a cat hoarder's house during a T/N/R event had been with me barely a week. I was afraid that if she got out and ran she would not have been able to find her way back. I yelled for my husband who was feeding the horses at the time to grab a ladder and get up there to prevent her from getting through. Luckily he got there in time and used another piece of wood to push her back in.
But that was not the end. I needed to get her down. The only possible way I could do that was to grab something to catch her with and push her off the ledge but I had to stand on a rickity table. Nearby on the wall was a fishnet that my son-in-law had hung there when he had moved his fishing stuff into storage. It was purrrfect! but it was like chasing a butterfly. Finally I wedged the frame against the wall with her within the netting. Then, plop she slide down into it while I held the handle with one hand and tried to grab the other side. to catch it. When she felt herself falling she became a whirling dirvish with tail and fur and claws everywhere. I dropped the net and when it landed on the table she sprang out safe at last. She took it all in stride.
Another time I arrived with their food one morning and she was nowhere to be found. I thought we had plugged all the rest of the holes. But then I noticed that the upside down patio umbrella that was propped into the corner was moving. When I tilted it over to check it out I saw a large furry ball wedged down between the ribs, stuck tight. All I could see were three white dots in the darkness. There was no way I was going to stick my hand down into it so I carefully picked up the whole thing and turned it right side up. Sure enough, she came sliding out and as soon as her little feet hit the ground off she flew under the old stuffed chair sitting in the corner.
After these two episodes she settled down. As time went by little Polka Dot became big sister to Moonbeam and she also became the friendliest reformed feral/hoarded barn cat I have ever seen.
After the first big snowfall of the year I didn't see her in the barn. Moonbeam and I were frantically looking for her. I got my flashlight and walked my regular path when Iwas looking for one or another of my cats when I heard a tiny tiny meow. As I shined the flashlight toward the gate between our neighbors property and ours I saw a little head poking up above the snow drift. She could see me but she wouldn't follow. I knew I would not be able to pick her up yet so I walked through the snow, leaving footprints. As soon as I reached her and she saw me she tentatively put her paw out but she would not venture out into the snow. However when she noticed that the snow was pushed down by my feet she jumped out into the path I had made. She jumped along following me like the proverbial bouncing ball all the way to the barn where her dinner was waiting for her.

Now, when I drive home and turn into the driveway I can see two white tummies in front of the dark doorway of the barn. They watch for me to come home.

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