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Southern Oregon Journal: The Cat Chronicles

Yesterday, Chewy.com left a hefty box on my doorstep. Last night found me on the living room floor trying to zipper and Velcro together a neat little house for warming outdoor cats.

Since I’ve made friends with three of them — two of whom remain at-large — I can’t bear thinking of them freezing their little tushes off these frigid nights. This new domicile is in addition to the modified cat carrier filled with straw and covered with a towel. So far, both units have remained vacant, though I am sure they’re far and away more comfortable than shivering under a deck or wherever it is Chicory slinks off to.

When it comes to herding cats, don’t expect anything to go according to plan — yours, anyway. Don’t even draw one up or think of one. You’ll be disappointed if you’re a planner. So, buy a dog instead.

You may remember if you’ve stuck with me this far (praise be), that I was trying to wrangle a skinny tabby varmint I call Chicory, who spurned being “helped,” into a trap. He does not think he needs to be fixed. He likes himself as-is. Oh, I still feed him when he moseys in, and I’m allowed to give him pets and pats as long as I follow him out a respectable distance and well away from where the other he-man cats can’t see.

Cricket, the one who resides under my deck, is the largest feral cat I’ve ever seen. He looks like one of those heavy-bodied cows with a small head you see in primitive paintings. He’s the one with the cute mew. Not moo, mew. Mr. C (all cats should have a ready collection of nicknames) is a neutered male who surely must eat everything that stirs in the night, including raccoons and careless small dogs. I rarely see him emerge in daylight. No wonder I have no rodent problem. He had an owner at one time, apparently, because he too loves head scratches and rubs against me. He has survived for several years under my deck. I took him for granted until he joined Chicory in the chow line.

A few weeks back I introduced Eddie, king of the cats or King Edward the First — another tabby, previously known to all within earshot as Vocal Boy. His meow is like a raspy violin played slowly. He’s a lot friendlier, but apparently had been “let go,” according to my neighbor, who said she’d been feeding him for about three years. Maybe the ear plugs didn’t work, I don’t know, but I was forever trying to shoo him away (after petting him) so I could tame Chicory. They all seem to find Peggy’s Place.

I posted his picture in a lost-and-found forum and had one family come to see if he was theirs. They heard one note from VB and decided no. I asked if they wanted him, and they used their dog as an excuse.

Mr. Eddie now resides contentedly with me and is king of the castle. It’s amazing how he’s toned down his arias now that he got what he wanted. Relentless pleading pays. What do you know, all he wanted was love and someone to care. Now, he’s an amazing pet who snuggles with me and loves to chase Sneaky Snake, who is a shoelace, but we won’t tell Eddie. We also don’t need to mention he has a vet appointment coming up. He’s fixed, just getting an exam and shots. I wonder if herding him into a carrier will be a challenge.

Chewy.com crowned me queen of the suckers now that I’m feeding and housing three cats. I order canned food by the case and kibble in the giant, economy size.

Cricket took a chance and ventured inside the house briefly on that recent bone-numbing 27-degree night and will likely join Eddie and me at some point. Chicory, the not-as-little brat that started it all by batting his eyes at me, is chuckling and cleaning his whiskers from the bushes. Men.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Say howdy at pcdover@hotmail.com.