And Then There Were Kittens

☆ May 18, 2011

a kitten on a bison skull

Feral Kitten Girl arrived at my door one sunny autumn day, as had become her custom, but this time, she had her four kittens in tow.  And she didn’t leave again.  The kittens had a nest under my deck to which they would flee if they were frightened, but most of their time was spent exploring my home and the immediate surroundings, or sleeping in a pile: inside, on a huge pillow beside my desk, or outside, in the sun beside the woodpile.  Feral Kitten Girl luxuriated in doing a whole lot of nothing, her responsibilities having dropped down to nursing.  She’d gaze at me with a look of blissed out gratitude: “thanks for the food, for the safe haven, for watching my babies for me…. and now I’m going to take another nap.”

Eli, in contrast, was DISPLEASED.
Nevermind that they were probably his kittens (please don’t yell me an email about neutering Eli, it’s a waste of time.  Eli has me under mind control.  Though he has said when they start performing reversible vasectomies on all 16 year old guys, he, too, will have the procedure).

Though the four kittens and their mama worshiped Eli and eagerly surrounded him when he came home each morning, Eli responded to their swarm with a vicious hiss as he sprung over them in a flying leap to the stairs, and, with another great leap, escaped to the relative peace of the loft.

Some people assume that Eli is not an affectionate cat because he is so tough, but in truth, Eli loves attention.  He needs it.  I made a point of keeping Eli’s Love Quota steady and certain, and, thankfully, within a month, he had warmed to the new residents, and it soon became common to find them all napping together on my bed.

Feral Kitten Girl was no longer an appropriate name.  It was never a proper name and now even more so, as she was no longer feral and, a mother many times over, no longer remotely a kitten or a girl.  I named her Rue, short for Ruger.  Beautiful Rue.

and then there were kittens...

The kittens got names as well.  There were two males: one solid black and the other a gray on gray stripe; and two females: one a soft mottled gray and the other tan and black tiger striped.

Gray girl had, from the very beginning, an absolute handful of flub ~ extra skin and fat and fuzz at her belly between her hind legs ~ which was (is) so much fun to smush.  I started calling her Mushy.  Though I’ve noticed very few people pronounce her name properly.  It is not “mushy,” with the vowel sound of “LUSH.”  It is “Mushy,” with the vowel sound of “PUSH.”  Mushy!  She looks like a cartoon in every way.

The other female was also quickly named.  Her name is Kettle.  Months before, Mike had found an old cast iron kettle out in the hills and, knowing I love that sort of thing, lugged it home for me.  I keep it next to my woodstove and throw all my paper trash in it to use as firestarter.  Kettle loved to climb into the kettle and curl up inside and sleep.  Mike called her ‘the kettle kitten’ which I shortened to “Kettle.”

As for the boys… in the early days, I always referred to the black one as “the black one,” and then, one day, Mike remarked how the other male, the gray striped one, was “so gray he was practically blue.”  And it was true ~ his fur was a cool, steel blue color.  And so I declared the boys would, henceforth, be called Black and Blue.

I wanted to take Rue and all the kittens in to get spayed and neutered once the kittens were old enough to be weaned, and before they went off to their new homes (which turned out to be not much of an adjustment ~ Black and Blue now live with Mike; he’d been wanting a kitten for ages and I told him he really should take two, so they would have company, and my sister was going to take the girls but she changed her mind so they are here with me, along with Rue and Eli, and it’s hard to remember life before they were a part of it; I’m so glad she changed her mind).

However, in that tiny space of time between the kittens being weaned and my getting them all to the vet, I noticed Rue’s belly starting to get round and full again!  “HOW did she manage to get bred again so fast, and without my noticing?” I thought to myself.  I couldn’t believe it.  But there she was, getting rounder and rounder by the day.  And so I started feeding her more ~ raw meat, endless dry food, and treats ~ to make sure she stayed nourished through her pregnancy.

She got HUGE.  Her head and hind legs remained dainty, but her body was a sphere.  Mike called her Mama Football.  I prepared a nesting box for her, filled with blankets, which she rarely left.  Mike and I were certain she was going to have her litter any day.  And then she went into heat.  Which, if you’ve ever witnessed, is impossible to ignore or mistake for anything but a cat in heat.
Rue was not pregnant.  She was obese!

I called the vet and got them all in immediately and, when I explained that Rue was a feral who had adopted me, they said they would check her teeth to determine her age.  I kind of brushed it off, thinking she had to be about three, since she was so, so small when I first met her at the corrals.  I was wrong.  She is seven.  She lived hard and rough for seven years.   And now she has it made.  But she is on a diet.

Rue with Mushy and Blue

Comments

88 Responses to “And Then There Were Kittens”

  1. Maranda
    May 18th, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Aaaah, Kettle is such a great name! I love it! I think names that sort of “happen” are always the best.
    I’m impressed by Rue– she’s a toughie for sure. Seven years of being feral? She’s probably avoided all sorts of hazards. Super-Rue!

  2. Claire
    May 18th, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    Rue is quite a survivor. And an eater. She knew she has a good thing. So do Mike’s dogs know he has the cats? Do they get along?

  3. Dawn
    May 18th, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

    This is such a wonderful post. Tales of kitty love always leave me smiling. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. BethK
    May 18th, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

    I miss my farm cats; nice to hear the farmily is growing. :)

  5. Hannah
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:26 am

    You have some beautifull new farmily members! I love your story about Rue and that you never pushed her into liking you but simply gave her the decision! I think they will have the best time of their live with you (: Does Charlie treats them like Eli?

  6. cheryl
    May 19th, 2011 @ 2:01 am

    A beautiful story!! ♥

    I believe that one of the finest things in life is a purring kitty (or kitties!) snuggled up against you….the world just falls away.♥

  7. Ingrid
    May 19th, 2011 @ 2:38 am

    KITTENS! Oh my god KITTENS! I can’t say anything else right now because KITTENS!!!

  8. GD
    May 19th, 2011 @ 4:36 am

    That is too funny! However, don’t feel silly cuz the same thing happened to Robyn over at Love and Hisses (http://www.love-and-hisses.com). She takes in fosters for the Challenger House and raises them till they are old enough to get spayed/neutered or till a mama cat has her babies and she weens them! Some kitties are smart and know how to take advantage of a good thing! LOL. Rue is no dumb blonde! Ha

  9. Bethany
    May 19th, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    Oh! All of our animals are spayed/neutered which is good since people always dump some 4 legged creature at our farm… But I sure do miss babies! I love the names too! Kettle especially!

  10. Hollie
    May 19th, 2011 @ 6:02 am

    Have loved reading your stories of Rue and her kittens. How did Charlie and Chloe take to the new members of the family?

  11. Jenn
    May 19th, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    Fabluous story! What a fantastic happy tale to start my day. I love the quote “she adopted me” when you were speaking to the vet.

    You are such a kind and good-hearted person, too bad more people or even everyone couldn’t be the same!

    Take care,
    Jenn

    Ontario, Canada

  12. Dana
    May 19th, 2011 @ 6:58 am

    I know I am probably going to get flak from this, but I can seriously agree with you decision not to neuter Eli. I live out in the country in GA and have had several cats, dogs, and other animals. Many of the cats are feral (some of which we have tamed). We also have a couple of house cats. I fell in love with a second hand drop off male kitten that had a beautiful black and white cow like spots. I named him Gateway and he grew to be a huge cat and was a real fighter, protecting his territory. I got talked into having him neutered by my vet and did. After he recovered, he started getting the raw end of the deal in the fights with the other feral/stray cats. I honestly believe it was because I had him neutered. Now, I am all for the spaying of females and have caught and released many female cats around the area, but I wish I had never neutered Gateway, because all it has done is cost me more vet bills from the numerous fights he has lost. These days, he is roughly 14 years old and doesn’t do much but sleep and eat and get bigger and bigger and bigger.

  13. Kerry
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    Gorgeous kitties!

    I had to giggle at the name Mushy though. In German, muschi (said the same way) means pussy, both in the feline sense and the feminine sense.

  14. hello haha narf
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    cracking up that mamma rue just got fat! after a rough life and all those babies, i bet i would want to lay around and let you pamper me. wait. that kinda came out wrong!

    ANYhow, congrats on the beautiful additions to your homes. they are magnificent!

  15. Adam
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    I love it. I had a feral kitten girl adopt me and I had the same experience you did with thinking she was pregnant. She never got “football” sized, but I was talking up friends and family, trying to get ahead of the curve finding families for the kittens I was sure were about to come, only to discover my feral kitten girl was just putting on weight.

  16. Pam
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    …Thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you.

  17. Karla
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:48 am

    Such a great story. I’m glad you were able to get the girls spayed. Rue reminds me very much of my “Mama Kitty,” who I began feeding back in 2000. It took me a year to make up to her and during that time, she had 2 litters of kittens. Luckily I was able to catch the kittens from both litters & 2 of them stayed w/me while the rest found homes. My Mama Kitty turned out to be the most loving cat. Who knows what horrible things she endured in her effort to survive before I began feeding her & took her in. She definitely did not trust people, as evidenced by how long it took me to make up to her. She is a wonderful cat and I can’t imagine my life without her.

  18. Kristan
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    Love the names, and LOL to the fatty catty. That happens so easily.

  19. Amanda N
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    Now she’s just a typical house cat! ha! Awe, I just love the pictures of the babies. So sweet.

  20. Donna
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    What is better then a pile of kitties. And I agree Eli doesn’t need to be fixed at his age,and you are out in the country!

  21. Liz
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    Ha ha! This is a great story! I would love to see Eli “displeased”. I bet that was an amazing expression on his face. What a beautiful pile of kitties!

  22. Coral
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    I love it!! Rue is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve ever seen. I think this is one of my fav stories on this blog (the other would be anything horse-related). I adopted a stray male kitten, and we aren’t neutering him either. I feel the same as one of the other commenters above: if I fix him, he’ll start to get beat up by the other neighborhood toms.

  23. Cara
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    Great story. Rue is one smart kitty. When you first said that you named her Rue, I thought it was after a character in the Hunger Games. Have you read that series? It seems up your alley.

  24. Tracy from Illinois
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    First time poster, but I have followed for many years on Daily Coyote and on Honey Rock Dawn. Thank you so much for your compassion and caring for Rue and her many, many kittens. Rescued pets are often the most appreciative and loving of all. They KNOW when they have found their little slice of heaven. It may take longer to win them over, but once done it’s a lifetime bond. Congrats on your growing farmily.
    Tracy.

  25. Marg
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    You are going to need a bigger bed, good thing the cows can’t fit through the door.

  26. Holly B
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    I’m with Ingrid…KITTENS!!! Can’t say much more than that!

  27. Hawk
    May 19th, 2011 @ 8:50 am

    Love the story. I’m very glad Rue was just getting tubby and not something more serious! My mother and I have taken in cats more than once, and we learned a painful lesson when one came into our home who was beyond simple loving care…the poor thing had something wrong with his gut, and he too ballooned…the rest was not very pleasant, and the best that can be said is that it was over quickly and (once we got him to a vet) without a lot of pain.

    Farm cats are the toughest cats, though, much unlike the poor things found in city alleyways. My husband owned a cat when we got married that was 17 years old when he passed on to the greener fields…and he didn’t die in his sleep, he died because a pack of dogs got him. And at that he took out eyes and shredded faces before they got him. A real fighter!

    Glad to know the farmily is growing and prospering. Love blooms best when surrounded by love :)

  28. Adrienne
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:17 am

    Just FYI… information on proper feeding of cats.http://www.catinfo.org/ Basically, dry food makes them fat and is otherwise very bad for them. (Yeah, people will disagree with me on this, but sorry, cats are not meant to eat grains, it’s scientific fact.) Congrats on the family additions!

  29. kay
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:22 am

    Sweet story, with good outcomes for everyone – yay!

  30. Nathalie
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    My friend used to have 2 cats, Ban and Ana :-)

  31. Theresa Szpila
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    I love “happily ever after” stories, and this one is no exception. Black and Blue with Mike; Momma and the girls with you; Eli learning to enjoy his new “harem.” I love it. I hope Charlie and Chloe feel the same.

  32. Holly
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    omg KITTENS!!! *brain switches to “off” position* *spends another ten minutes cooing and babbling*

  33. Katie
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    While I absolutely love reading about Charlie & the rest of the farmily, I’m with some of the other posters…KITTENS! Perfect names, wonderful story, beautiful babies…I can’t wait to hear more about them!

  34. Jenny C
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:11 am

    Happiness is… reading this story. Nothing like a pile-o-kittens to brighten a day, week or month. Thanks, Shreve, for taking such good care of Rue and her brood and bringing us in on the fun.

  35. Jenny C
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    Marge (#25) – hehe!

  36. Holly Shepherd
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:23 am

    And so your farmily grows ever bigger…Love it!!!I believe all of these animals are blessed to have you as their guardian, and you are blessed to have them all in your keeping..

  37. Sherry
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    I’ve been DYING for the kitten post!! HURRAH!!! Rue is an extremely beautiful cat, and it surely looks like she made some extremely beautiful kittens, too!

    I am curious about what Charlie ahd Chloe thought about the kittens — since you didn’t mention either, I kind of assumed it just didn’t really go very well and they needed to be kept separate.

  38. LEISEL
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:37 am

    Shreve, thanks for the delightful kitten story! I often wonder what your life might have been like, had you never ventured out on that Vespa! What a rich and fulfilling life you have, in your little corner of the world!

  39. Scotty
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:54 am

    omg Eli is a daddy! lol. woo wooo! well he deserves a nap now, his work is done. wtg Eli! and of course Rue deserves a napster too after all that. the diet starts tomorrow along with an appointment at the jungle gym.

    i had a huge cat that would cuddle and play gently but only with me. with anyone else they usually ended up with a bloodied hand if i didn’t warn them in time. of course he got a reputation of being a big meanie but of course i never saw it that way.

    great pics S.

  40. E.J.
    May 19th, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    Ckeck out “primordal pouch.” I think your Mushy has one. You might enjoy reading about the Keuda cat breed if you have not already.”The Superior Barn Cats”research project was the start of the breed.They have the pouch too.

  41. CeeJay
    May 19th, 2011 @ 11:49 am

    Thank you for this story – it’s the highlight of my day.

  42. Darci
    May 19th, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    I don’t know why, but after a year and a bit of reading your posts on here and on daily coyote, I’ve finally bought your book. It takes a lot for me to want to read a book, mostly someone else to say it was good and to read it. Amazon just told me they’ve shipped it and I can’t wait to read it. I really enjoy you’re writing style and have been dying to know the whole story. Hopefully it comes soon!

    Also, not nearly enough pictures of the kittens! lol!

  43. lynda
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    i really, really enjoyed this post. i don’t know what about it, but it just made me smile. thanks :)

  44. Hajnal
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    Thank you for the beautiful kitten story! Rue is such a clever girl, pretending to be pregnant to encourage you to keep on fattening her!
    How do Charlie and Chloe react to the presence of the new farmily member?

  45. Pat D.
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    KITTENS!! (lol)– great story, thank you for sharing it with us.

  46. Ursula
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    Kitten piles! LOVE IT.

  47. dottiebj
    May 19th, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    Please keep us posted on the saga of all the kitties as well as the rest of you! :)

  48. CM Hooper
    May 19th, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this post. The kitties are beauties. Amazing that Rue is 7. She’s one tough cat.

  49. mlaiuppa
    May 19th, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    LOL.

    Poofy kitten girl. (Or in your spelling, Puffy.)

    That’s what obese is called in our family. Poofy. It’s from Ice Age, the movie.

    My parents’ dog is poofy. Sometimes we also lovingly refer to her as larda$$. Some would say large boned. Face it. She’s fat.

    We don’t do cats but I’ve read about them and friends have them. I don’t care what they say. Cats run in packs just like dogs. They are social. They love groups. And they’re affectionate. Just in a different way.

    At least they don’t dig up your garden when it rains.

    I like dogs because they worship me. Cats were once worshiped as Gods and they’ve never forgotten that.

  50. mlaiuppa
    May 19th, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    Oh, and if I remember my high school biology.

    Poofy kitten girl – gray stripe

    Eli – Ginger stripe

    Kittens: black, gray stripe, gray mottle, black/tan stripe

    Hmmm. I think Eli should demand a paternity test.

  51. Aleta
    May 19th, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    Delightful story with a happy ending. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  52. MCJ
    May 19th, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    There was a Mama Cat in Northwest Territories, Canada who had 6 litters in the first 4 years of her life. She was constantly either breeding or nursing her 21 progeny, even spending one Arctic winter living under a building, fending for herself and her babies. Someone finally took pity on her and had her spayed aborting 7 kittens in the process. She was then sent South to me in warmer Alberta, Canada where she spent the next 10 years luxuriating in zero responsibility. She was in retirement.

    Sigh. I wish my husband wasn’t so allergic to cats.

  53. Beverly Murphy
    May 19th, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

    big sigh…….is there anything better than a bundle of sleepy kitties/???
    thanks for sharing Shreve

  54. Kimberly
    May 19th, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    They’re all such pretty kitties! Our kittens are now 3 1/2 weeks old and starting to play more. It’s quite interesting watching them grow up, having only been around dogs before.
    All of ours turned out to be different shades of grey, 2 of them being a lighter grey with stripes and white faces.
    The really light grey one I want to keep because he’s such a cuddle buddy. If we do decide to keep him he shall be named “Haru”, meaning “Spring”.

    How long did it take for Eli to accept the kittens? We kinda have that problem right now with one of the other cats Ezekiel. He’s just not a happy camper.

  55. Colleen G
    May 19th, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    Congrats on the new farmily members! Feral kitties are the best – I have a few myself. As usual, fantastic pics!

  56. Susan
    May 19th, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    Kittens? KITTENS!!! Snuggly, comfy, sleepy, purring, furry KITTENS!! Babble babble, drool. I has lost teh ability to use of english. Weeee!

  57. Marva Felchlin
    May 19th, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    Great post, Shreve. LOL about Rue rounding out!

  58. T
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

    Ahhh I love Eli.

  59. Carmen
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    A lovely story to end the day, thank you!

    Dana ~ I love the name Gateway, very interesting for a kitty. But I do believe that they choose their names.

  60. Cathy
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

    I did the same thing with my Bastet, a cat dumped on our street. A neighbor said she looked pregnant so I took her in and fed and fed her. She got rounder. Finally, no kittens. She’s never come in heat so I presume she’s spayed. Weird, but true.

  61. TT in MD
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    love little kittens – what a cute bunch : )

  62. Julie
    May 19th, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    thank you for the kitten story which i’ve been eagerly awaiting! they are so loveable, and i’m glad that eli finally grew to love the kittens (which may be his children lol). and a great choice of names.

    i’m not sure what our shelter will end up doing re: the upcoming kitties from blackie, our little feral football – maybe she’s just becoming obese too – i’ll find out tomorrow :)

  63. Eve
    May 19th, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    What a lovely story. I have 2 formerly feral kittens that are now 2 big blobs of snuggles at age 3. My Houdini looks very much like “Blue”. I get all my maternal yayas out by having cats.

  64. Catherine
    May 20th, 2011 @ 6:48 am

    That’s so great of you to keep some of the cats and to have found loving homes for the others. But there is simply no justification for not having Eli neutered. You of all people should know this with how compassionate and understanding you are when it comes to animals. Eli is loved and respected, but to value his life over the dozens if not hundreds of other lives he’s already responsible for bringing into the world, is very unbalanced and selfish. The kittens that were eaten by the owls? That shouldn’t have happened and probably wouldn’t have if Eli had been neutered. Cats are domesticated animals and not a natural part of the ecosystem. It’s disturbing that you would set your own rules and make a special case for one cat, at the expense of so many others that Eli is responsible for and that have yet to be born. This is just wrong and flawed thinking on your part and frankly is very surprising.

  65. E.J.
    May 20th, 2011 @ 6:48 am

    sorry for typo–should have been– primordial pouch—-

  66. leah
    May 20th, 2011 @ 6:49 am

    I just laughed so hard! Thanks for sharing.

  67. m
    May 20th, 2011 @ 6:49 am

    @#64 Catherine:

    Shreve explains it here (http://www.dailycoyote.net/?p=1175) as does Dana (Comment #12). Whether introduced by man or not, cats are now a part of the ecosystem in some places.

  68. M. V.
    May 20th, 2011 @ 7:11 am

    I love the article about the kittens and agree with your decision about Eli.

    A few short points re an earlier comment:

    Cats (and everything else for that matter) have always been part of the eco-system. Everything is both hunter and prey in some way or other.
    Owls are carnivors, they must eat meat to survive. If they don’t eat kittens, they will eat some other animal.
    With human destruction of wild lands and its inhabitants, “wild” animals often have no choice but to eat “domestic” animals.
    We must be “responsible stewards of the land”, and that includes doing things that others may disagree with, to get things back the way they should be.

  69. Julien Sharp
    May 20th, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    Would love to see a photo of Eli and all the “kids” sleeping on the bed!

  70. Dawn
    May 20th, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    Just had a lil ferral kitten adopt me…found her out at the BLM office. Her first week with me she was so sick. Thank gosh for goats milk! Calamity Jane has brough so much joy to me and my dog I to can not think about how life would be without her :) I adopted another one and named her Annie Oakley…happy little family! Thank you for sharing Shreve!! I was checking everyday to see an update on yer farmily!

  71. Corrie
    May 20th, 2011 @ 10:03 am

    Congrats, Shreve! I live with three indoor cats and two outdoors. There is nothing like having a cat with you everywhere you go. Soft fur and purring are the bomb!

  72. christine
    May 20th, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    so what does Charlie think of this herd of little Elis?

  73. Janine
    May 20th, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

    I though feral kitten girl was a kitten when you first met her? Hmm, I’ll have to re-read the first post, but I know my vet thinks my cats are older than they are. (My oldest cat couldn’t have been more than six months when I adopted her because of her age but my vet thought she was over a year. I know, I know, the vet is a vet, but c’mon, a “mother” knows, right? :) Anyway, my theory is that sometimes cats just have teeth that look older than they are.

  74. Jenny C
    May 20th, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    Shreve, “Quack” on the mother site cracked me up. Hilarious.

    Mlaiuppa (#49) – “Cats were once worshiped as gods and they’ve never forgotten that.” LOL – well said!

    Catherine (#64) – I know you meant well with your post; those of us who love animals want to keep dog and cat populations in check. However, as others have so eloquently noted, rural Wyoming truly is a different ecosystem. Shreve has survived the ruthless hazing of Blog Land and needs no defense from me or anyone else for that matter. I just want to say that I’ve enjoyed The Daily Coyote for more than 3 yrs, and it never ceases to amaze me how meticulously she researches everything, from how to build her own house to how to care for the ever-growing menagerie of animals in her farmily. I respect her deeply-rooted sense of responsibility and the courage it takes to survive and thrive in her world. When Charlie contracted Parvo as a pup, it was too tricky to take him to the vet; discretion was essential to his survival. She nursed him back from the brink of death with IV’s, meds and TLC in her rustic one-room cabin – one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen. When she says Eli and his environs are better off with his equipment intact, I believe her. Oh Eli… you’re so formidable with your swagger, that pack of smokes rolled into your sleeve and your well-timed swats to the underlings in your kingdom.

  75. Janet H.
    May 20th, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

    Great post–but then I will read anything that mentions cats!! Great names for the kittens, too.

  76. I Hermit
    May 21st, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    Well done again Shreve. More on dogs,Coyotes and Eli OH MY!

    For #74 Jenny C: You get it. I have a cat named for me Barry the bread man. A couple owned a video store and I traded bread from a 2 man organic bakery in which I worked for movies, Last spring the owners wife died of Yakobs/Kreutzman disease (Mad Cow) I wish you all to say a little prayer for Fay.

  77. Deanna
    May 21st, 2011 @ 9:46 am

    Thanks so much for the story and pics. I have inlaws visiting and have scarcely had time to check mail. This is SO FUN!

  78. wright1
    May 21st, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    Lovely photos as always… Especially the first one, with Mush (presumably) teetering on the skull.

    Love the names, too: Kettle, Black & Blue… hilarious.

    Very curious as to how Charlie and Chloe have adjusted. I would think because of his early socialization with Eli, Charlie sees Rue and her brood as just more additions to the Farmily, rather than prey. I can’t remember you describing Charlie’s reaction to cats besides Eli. But besides chicken and geese, I get the impression Charlie views other domestic animals as objects of caution / curiosity, rather than toys / food.

  79. Bumblebee
    May 21st, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    Hi Shreve!
    Beautiful kitties! No orange ones? Maybe Sir Eli is NOT a daddy after all!! LOL Thanks for sharing the story and pics. :)

  80. Ulrike de la Lama
    May 23rd, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    Regarding Muschi ( german for Mushy ) …yes, it means female part but it’s like Pussy in english, it means Pussy Cat and from that the nickname for the body part stams. In Germany you call your cat with ” Muschi, muschi, muschi ( means Pussy, Pussy , Pussy )… boy that sounds convoluted, I just wanted to say it’s a funny coincidence but nor dirty : ))

  81. Kelli Graves
    May 23rd, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    been away for a while. so great to read your writing again.
    there is a special kind of validation when you take in a stray who has had a hard life, and get her healthy, provide a safe haven and enjoy the affection she decides you are worthy of. Rue is a fortunate lady cat, as are you!

  82. Joyce
    May 24th, 2011 @ 6:56 am

    Love this post. I was adopted by some ferals too and i know the love they can bring.

  83. Carrie Mc W
    May 24th, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    Love it! Always had a group of ferals at my barn, my pair of males were Captain Midnight (black) and Barry Steele (grey)…to which more were added…

    Always a barrel of monkeys!!!

  84. Sherri
    May 25th, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    The best cat I’ve ever had, and there’s been lots, just “showed up”. I miss my Dozer every day.

  85. mouse
    May 25th, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    #78 – She is not teetering! She is attacking! Fiercely! See those claws? She is a Fierce Wild Kitten, Killer of Cowskulls!

    (I can identify this, as I myself have a Fierce Wild Kitten, although she is Killer Of Small Pieces of Yarn and Toy Mice. You work with what you have.)

  86. Catherine Chandler
    May 25th, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

    What a beautiful story! Our siamese, Sammy, has a beautiful MUSHY belly too! I often pat it when he’s on his back and sing “bellybellybelly….bellybellybelly!”…which he doesn’t *love* but doesn’t hate :)

    I love the story of Kettle!

  87. Adrienne
    May 27th, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    That last photo did me in. Three smushy cats in one pile? I’ve had cats or a cat almost my whole life, we have only ever had two that got along that well. I’m sure it’s because they are family but oh, the smushiness!

  88. angie
    May 30th, 2011 @ 3:28 am

    i love this in so many ways!

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