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A Free-Roaming (AKA Feral) Cat Family and Me (Part 3 of 4)

A Free-Roaming (AKA Feral) Cat Family and Me (Part 3 of 4)

My cat family lives outside. The only times we touch are when Mama Kitty initiates contact. She now trusts me to feed her and her kittens, so she rubs against my legs when she’s hungry. Sometimes she gets underfoot, almost tripping me when I walk down a rocky path to place their bowls of wet and dry food on concrete blocks.

People trying to domesticate free-roaming cats tell a different story. My friend Rhonda had two kittens, both rescued, one completely sweet, docile and rarely upset, and the other, Pixie, sweet and purring then suddenly angry and scratching. “These were my children’s indoor/outdoor pets,” Rhonda says. “They said Pixie had ‘mood swings’.” Sometimes other children, who would come by to play and try to rest their head on Pixie’s pillow, ended up getting scratched or bitten.

Trying to domesticate a free-roaming cat or kitten is a long, hard, time-consuming task and it doesn’t always work. Rhonda had fits just trying to get half-feral Pixie into a carrier to get her to the vet for shots once a year. And when Pixie arrived there, it took the vet and an assistant to hold her down. The vet said she would never be completely domesticated.

I, however, am committed to helping these four female cats live healthy outdoor lives. The cats are starting to scratch again. So I’m figuring out how to keep fleas off them because I can’t apply Frontline or other chemical flea treatments to their backs because I don’t dare touch them. I would never spray chemicals on the ground that might hurt the cats. I ordered Wondercide Flea and Tick Spray from Amazon (I’ll spray a wide swath of ground where they eat and sleep with a hose.) From Natural Pet, I ordered Brewer’s Yeast and Garlic pills (to combat fleas and ticks) as well as HW Protect Herbal Formula (to fight heartworms). Reviewers of these products say they work better than the chemical stuff. I hope that’s true. As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know. Please keep your fingers crossed for me and the feral female felines family.

An Adventure

An Adventure

MissKitty

“A head full of fears has no space for dreams” ~ Author unknown

Today, burned out on writing, I looked away from my monitor, through the living room window of my fiancé Barry’s and my old redwood home at a rainbow arcing across the sky north

Our beautiful tortoise-shell cat Spoildy Woildy

of Honolulu.

A steep mountain street beckoned me. I often stroll along that plumeria-scented country lane when I need to unwind my computer-dazed mind. A big part of the small street’s appeal for me is a diminutive tortoise shell cat. She gallops from her garage when I walk by, and runs, purring, toward me, her tail pointing crookedly at the sky. Somehow she knows I will scratch her arched back and stroke her bent tail.

Barry and I lost our own tortie to illness several years ago. We christened our sassy cat with her spectacularly fluffy tail “Spoildy Woildy” after she began biting Barry’s head when he sat on his loveseat. She had decided the top edge of the couch belonged to her, not this interloper. In her green eyes, I was top cat, she was second, and Barry was a distant third.

Before trudging up the steep hill, I kneeled beside the kitty and stroked her. When I walked back down on the opposite side of the street, she trotted toward me. I sprinted to the other side, to the entrance of the cat’s garage. A slim, tall man with a long white beard and bright eyes who looked to be in his mid 70’s stood in the cat’s garage, stuffing garbage bags into a black metal can. I thought he looked like a wizard. Like Merlyn, or Gandalf.

“Hello,” he said, and smiled. “I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure.” He extended long bony fingers. “You live around here?”

I nodded. We shook hands. “ I was afraid your kitty would get hit by a car,” I said. “So I hurried to this side of the street, hoping she’d follow me.” The cat rubbed her head against my blue jeans.

“That was nice of you. Are you a cat lover like me?”

“Yes, especially tortoise shell kitties.”

He thought for a moment and added, “You know, I’d much rather show you my tree house than dump this garbage. Would you like to see it? It’s behind the house.”

My heart raced. Could this be a creative new come on? The man seemed friendly, but I didn’t know him. What if he attacked me in his treehouse? But he couldn’t be all bad. After all, he had a tortoise shell cat. I felt the bulky shape of my Samsung cell phone in my jean pocket. If Barry’s ringer was turned on, I could call him for help. But, knowing Barry, it was probably off.

I took a deep breath, trying unsuccessfully to slow my racing heart. “I would,” I told him, “but I’ll call Barry first…just take me a sec…to tell him where I am. Okay if he comes along?”

The man didn’t miss a beat. “Sure. But quickly. I’ve got to leave in half an hour.”

That sealed it for me. I phoned Barry. No answer. “Hi, honey,” I told the phone, “I’m up the street at 3245 Hina Road. Want to come and see a tree house behind this man’s house…oh, okay. I’ll be back in half an hour.”

I hung up the phone and thought about the tree house calendar I’d given Barry for Christmas, now hanging on our bedroom wall. I wondered if this man’s tree house could possibly be as grand as the ones featured on the calendar. No way, I thought. It probably looks like the tiny one my brother built in our oak tree from scrap wood when we lived on Elm Street.

“I’m ready,” I told the tree house man.

(Adventure to continue on my next blog post.)

Back to My Adventure

Back to My Adventure

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.” ~ Author unknown

image The tree-house man led me to an Indiana Jones style hanging bridge, constructed of ropes and wooden slats, which spanned a tree-filled valley far below, and connected the hillside behind his house to a huge Indian Banyan tree where a multi-story tree house was built. As I inched along the swaying bridge, I gazed at the ground, lush with taro, exotic fruit trees, Champa trees and trees I couldn’t name, an overgrown garden, and a fish pond buzzing with mosquitoes.

The valley was 60 feet below. I shook like Jell-O and the bridge swayed more. What if the ropes broke? I didn’t dare back up—afraid of losing my balance, I didn’t dare turn around, either. “Are you sure this bridge won’t break?” I rasped.

“No worries.” He said the bridge had held five obese people all at once the week before.

Had their combined weight weakened the ropes? I gripped the rope guides with a white-knuckled grip. The ground looked miles away.

The man pointed upward, through overhanging branches. “The tree intertwines with a living dome of giant bamboo, Bodhi trees, and sacred and medicinal vines.”

IMG_20140426_112406_757Bodhi tree. The name of that Buddhist tree made me think of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.” I breathed deeply, repeating the words to myself. After several breaths, my grip on the rope relaxed.

I swayed the rest of the way across the bridge, climbed up branches thick as elephant legs to three separate levels behind my host. The man said he had continued to build on the tree house for the past 29 years. I told him I’d begun building something 29 years previously, too; my book Angel Hero, newly published by Mighty Quill Press.

“I’m intrigued by your title,” he said. “I’d like to read it.”

“Thanks! I’d like to autograph your copy.” Wow, you meet your readers in the most unusual places.

We climbed upward on wooden 2 by 4s nailed into the tree. I followed him through a collage of floors suspended below transparent roofs. A pyramid-shaped, giant bamboo cut through the tree’s high canopy, allowing a far-reaching view of the wide valley below. The man pointed past Waikiki, at the deep blue, white-capped ocean.

I inhaled the cool, moist air, redolent with ripe fruit and aromatic flowers, and thought about a story Barry had told me. The local boys who lived in the valleys below where he lived used to pick fights with him, accusing him of breathing the air before they did. Nobody has breathed this air, I thought, inhaling deeply, savoring the fresh, delicious scents up here on top of the world.

I’d never had the faintest idea the enormous tree house stood there, hidden behind a house in this woodsy neighborhood. “May I come back and take pictures?” I asked. “I’d like to capture how huge this tree is and its cool aerial roots and…how tall is it?”

“A hundred twenty feet. Of course you can come.” He handed me his card. “I’m often away. Better call first.”

I said I would, and thanked him for sharing his amazing tree house with me.

I’d like to return the favor by sharing more adventures with you, gentle readers. I hope you will share some of yours with me as well.

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