A Story of Three Stray Cats
by Christie Keith
Leslie's cats weren't always sleek, shining and well-fed, nor did they always have a fire to snooze by in the winter. However good the living is now, they were all once cold, hungry, and alone.
Leslie didn't find her first two cats, Po and Sally; Po found her. Po and Sally were kittens, brother and sister, living in an urban neighborhood and eating out of garbage cans.
She was out one day walking her dog, Grishild, when Po walked right up to the giant dog and, said Leslie, "booped her on the nose. He figured, hey, that dog isn't eating out of trash cans; I want what she's got."
Leslie built a little shelter in her yard, and soon Po had moved in with his litter sister, Sally. While Po warmed to Leslie right away, Sally took some wooing.
"I really had to work to make friends with her," said Leslie. "She was scared of everything, and Po was her only friend. They were living in a little house in my yard, and I'd feed them out there, but Sally wouldn't let me touch her."
When she became convinced that Sally was pregnant, she got a tranquilizer from the vet and put it in her food. When Sally went in to be spayed, she was indeed pregnant.
After the surgery, Sally moved into the house and was a changed cat. She would let herself be petted and held, and rode around on her new mistress' shoulders like a feather boa.
Ivanhoe, a grey short hair cat with a bit of Russian Blue in him, also adopted Leslie. She said, "Every time I would open the door, there he'd be. He'd race right into the back room, and get into the litter box and wait until I'd come back to see where he went. He'd just look at me, as if he was saying, 'See, I can do this.' So I told him fine, you can live with me, but the first thing that's gonna happen is the balls have got to go."
Ivanhoe started out as Ivan the Terrible, but his soft little "meow" convinced Leslie she had misnamed him. Sally thought so to, as, said Leslie, "The first couple of weeks after Ivan came, Sally let him know who ran the house."
Leslie's cats were indoor cats in the city, but when she moved to a ranch in the country she had a difficult decision to make.
"Because they had always been indoors," she said, "there was a whole array of things they had never seen before, like hawks and owls and coyotes. But it's so beautiful out here, I hated to keep them confined. My landlady suggested I build them an outdoor cat cage, and so I did.
"Po, my big fat orange cat, who I thought would never fit through the cat door, was the first one outside. It took them about five seconds to figure it out."
Leslie's cats spend time day and night in the enclosure, which is liberally planted with catnip and cat mint. Brodie is planning to add a second story to the enclosure, and called the whole idea a great success.
"They love it," she said. "They sit in the sun and eat grass, and can even be outside with me, since the enclosure is part of my deck."
Her landlady's barn cat, Gabriel, often comes to visit, and delights in sitting with (and sometimes on) Leslie's dogs. The other cats, too, get along with the big dogs, but Gabriel, Brodie said, is different. "He thinks he's a dog," she laughed. "He's really a little orange dog. He comes on walks with us."
Maybe Gabriel is just angling for an invitation to come in out of the cold, and live the good life with the rest of Leslie's clan.