Three Mouseketeers: Phantom, Footsie, and Feather

The Three Mouseketeers

Chapter One - First Contact

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This is the story of three cats who found their ways onto my farm and into my family in the summer of 2005. I journaled their arrivals and integrations on one of the online Pet Forums to which I subscribe. Following is a version of that chronicle, edited to remove comments made by other forum members and some of my own unrelated responses.

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May 20, 2005
12:08 PM

A bit ahead of schedule ...

Each summer for the last 4 yrs, "someone" in my area has dumped a cat on my driveway. Usually the cat arrives here on the farm in mid-late summer. This year, the cat arrived early. I am hoping this doesn't mean my cat contributor intends to dump another one on me before summer's end.

Several days ago, our eldest feline, Billy, sprouted a nasty looking abscess just under his left eye. Billy does get into occasional spats with the other felines, but nothing that has ever resulted in injury. I've been wondering how he could have gotten this abscess. Now I know.

Yesterday as I was putting one of the dogs out, I heard a cat yowling over by the hayshed. You know that yowl ... the one reserved for intruders. Several of the other cats were by the door and got very nervous, darting inside as soon as I opened the door. I walked down the side of the garage and circled around between the crumbling old sauna and the hayshed where I spied Mr. Bill having a standoff with another white cat. The newcomer ran off when (s)he saw me.

I had Joe stop by U.S. Wildlife Services and borrow a live trap on his way home last night. After I finished up barn chores and put the dogs out for one last runabout, I gathered all the animals into the house for the night and set the trap out by the hayshed.

Sure enough, this morning we've got a new feline kid ... and (s)he's none too happy about it, either! The beast is now cowering in the corner of a large wire crate outfitted with litter box, food, and water in the master bathroom. Tomorrow afternoon, (s)he will visit the vet and be spayed/neutered if necessary and all other routine vet care taken care of.

So far all I know about this cat is that (s)he is tough enough to stand up to Billy, looks to be at a good weight with a healthy coat, and HATES me. After tomorrow's vet visit, I'll know more.

#11 and counting. If I ever catch who keeps dumping these cats ...

May 20, 2005
1:59 PM

I'm certain these cats are being dumped. Here's a little background to explain why. My farm sits at the end of a 1 1/3 mile long township road that cuts through federal forest land before deadending in my front yard. No one else lives on this road, which is why I refer to it as my "driveway" - that, and the fact that the county, in all its wisdom, decided to give the road my last name when they reorganized the whole 911 emergency system a number of years ago.

My nearest neighbors are over a mile away as the crow flies, and although several of the neighboring farms do have cats, I can't imagine any of those cats traveling that distance through the woods just to arrive at my farm. There simply isn't anything here to draw them in - no intact males or females lofting sexual scents into the air, no food left outside, nothing. Then there's history. I've lived on this farm since 1979. Up until 2001, I had only ever seen one feral cat on this property. He was a scraggly orange tom who visited us several times a year and caused trouble for a few days before migrating to a different part of his territory. He disappeared completely after a few years.

Since 2001, we have had one cat appear here each summer. Three of the cats were perfectly tame; one of them was even spayed. The fourth cat was a feral tom who took a LOT of time (and blood) to convince to appreciate life here. I am absolutely certain the first three dumpees (including the feral) came from the same place. These cats clearly knew each other. I am a bit less convinced the fourth cat (Annabelle) came from the same place just because her breeding is so obviously different than the others. Still, she behaves like she has known them before.

This new cat is a mystery. I do know that (s)he is very shy and would not allow me to approach outside. I know the cat is terribly frightened right now, which is perfectly natural under the circumstances. I'm not dealing with a beast as tame and friendly as Weasel, Somer, and Annabelle were when they arrived, and I HOPE I'm not dealing with one as feral and aggressive as Mew when he arrived. Only time will tell.

P.S. It'll likely be a while before I can take pics of the newbie. I don't wish to add to his/her stress level by aiming unknown objects in his/her direction. This is a short-haired, loooong-tailed, slim white cat with amber eyes and delicate features. (S)he gives the impression of being an adolescent or young adult. The fine facial features look feminine to me, but I can't imagine an unknown female standing up to Mr. Bill the way this cat did. At least I'll know what gender I'm dealing with after tomorrow's vet visit.

May 21, 2005
5:13 PM

New cat still hasn't made it to the vet (Paul had emergencies today so will see the cat this evening), but I do have some very encouraging news. (S)he's not feral - just a VERY stressed kitty. I just spent a few minutes with the cat. First, I stroked cat's head with my hand inside a welding glove. Cat tolerated it, then started to press his/her head into the glove. That was enough to convince me to take off the glove. Cat and I shared some bonding time. Cat rubbed against my hand and received face, neck, and chin scratches in return. There was even a little purring going on, though I'm not sure which one of us was doing it. ;-)

Cat has scabs and scrapes all over his/her face, and the ear tips are gone (frostbite, I presume). Ears seem sensitive (mites, no doubt - that'll be taken care of this evening). But this little soul's most distinguishing feature is the saddest pair of eyes I've ever seen - despondent, really ... almost absent. It breaks my heart. I can't wait to see the life return to those eyes.

I'll post again after the vet appt.

May 21, 2005
9:05 PM

It's a boy (intact until an hour ago)! Vet says he's 12-16 mos old. Paul (vet) was able to hold and pet him before he put him under for surgery and says Cat is a nice boy. No fleas but really filthy ears (and yes, frostbitten) that have now been treated for mites. Cat is at a good weight at 7.5 lbs right now, but Paul knows me and my cats. He knows Cat will be a 14 lb bowling ball by this time next year. ;-) Vaccination has been handled. Cat is FeLV negative (thank goodness)!

Poor little boy will feel like hell for a week. Then his life will be forever improved.

I'll give him a couple of weeks in the bedroom to recuperate, let the residual hormones dissipate, and give him a chance to see how the household works through the baby gates. Then I'll put the harness and leash on him and see how he feels about his new family (and vice versa).

When he's feeling better, I'll ask him his name.

One more mouth to feed at Shadowood.

May 22, 2005
9:04 AM

NC (New Cat - an easy moniker until he tells me his real name) hasn't left the crate since he came home from the vet last night. When I went into the bathroom to give him his breakfast, he hissed at me from the very back of the crate. Not that I wasn't expecting it. Given what he went through at the vet last night, I'd be in a pretty hissy mood, too. Poor little guy. I wonder how long it'll be before he gets up the nerve to leave the crate.

At least the sadness has left his eyes for the moment. It's been replaced by ANGER! As anyone who's ever been clinically depressed can attest, anger is a far more productive mental state. So, we're making progress.

May 22, 2005
2:42 PM

I'm not expecting much difficulty with NC's introduction once his residual hormones are gone. He's young and he's basically timid. The fact that he's not feral is going to make things tremendously easier, as well. I have found that the more strays that make their way into our family, the easier the introductions get. The older cats seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that these newcomers are just going to keep showing up and moving in. It also doesn't hurt that I've established a pretty well-tuned system for introductions over the last 5 yrs.

NC will be fine once he figures out that the worst is behind him. Of course it doesn't help that I spent considerable time telling him yesterday that we don't hurt kitties in this house and that his life here will be wonderful ... then carted him off to the vet for neutering.

So much for my credibility.

May 23, 2005
8:56 AM

NC spent all day yesterday in the back of the crate, hissing at me each time I went in to check on him. He wouldn't come out to eat or use the litterbox, but he did eat when I put a little bowl of food right by his mouth in the crate. He also let me scritch his head while he ate, purring all the while.

Sometime after I turned off the bathroom light last night, he did finally come out and eat an entire bowl of dry food, drink almost an entire bowl of water, and use the litterbox. This morning, though, he was back in the crate doing the hissing thing. Poor little guy is just so scared and confused, he doesn't know what he wants. I scritched him again this morning while he cowered at the back of the crate. When he started to purr, I gently lifted him out onto my lap. He cowered there, too, while simultaneously rubbing his head all over my hand and purring. He laid on my lap for a few minutes, then slowly crept off it and laid down right next to me on the floor, leaning into me, rubbing on me, writhing around to get me stroking him in all the right places, keeping his tail firmly locked between his back legs, sneaking glances at me with those sad, suspicious eyes.

I'll bet anything when I go back in there in a few minutes, he'll be back in the crate, hissing away.

Sweet little scaredy cat.

May 23, 2005
11:38 PM

Sure enough, NC goes back into hiding as soon as I leave the bathroom ... and sometimes before. He is so timid, if I start moving around while visiting him, he runs for cover. He has now found the tiny 3" wide gap between my vanity and the tub surround. He squeezes into the gap and hides there (apparently he thinks he's more invisible there than in the crate). He still hisses at me each time I enter the bathroom and reach to touch him, but as soon as I stroke his face, he purrs.

He still won't come out of either the crate or the gap on his own, but he doesn't object when I take him out and sit on the floor with him. In fact, as soon as I remove him from his hidey hole, he turns into a major love bug. I've never seen a cat wriggle and writhe the way this one does. He reminds me of a caterpillar larvae that's been dug up from the soil and exposed to the sun. He curls up and flip flops back and forth across the floor. I've never seen such tense relaxation or such loving mistrust.

Under the heading of "Progress", NC did walk ALL THE WAY (about 5') over to the water bowl and drank while I was visiting him. That's the farthest I've seen him dare separate himself from his hidey holes. Also, he lifted his tail to about half-mast for a moment - the first time he hasn't had his tail clamped firmly between his legs since his neuter. What made me the happiest, though, was the little love bite he gave me this evening when he was momentarily lost in bliss.

For every soul a new challenge. His challenge will be mustering the courage to accept the love he so desperately wants. Mine will be helping him find a safe place in this family of very strong personalities ... in all household species.

May 25, 2005
10:14 AM

NC discovered catnip last night, and he LOVES it! I had been trying to entice him to play with a few toys I had in the bathroom for him, but he had no interest in any of them ... until I brought him one of my homemade catnip toys last night. He sniffed, he rolled, he grabbed, he chomped. Glad to see there's something that can make him act like a normal cat!

This morning NC made a MAJOR breakthrough. He actually came out of his hidey holes to see me on his own ... TWICE! That's the first time I haven't had to drag him out of hiding in order to give him his lovin'. Of course, he still has to hiss at me each time I come in the bathroom. LOL!

I decided, in light of his new-found courage (such as it is), that he might be camera ready. NOT EASY to take pics of a cat who squirms and flops around the way this guy does. Don't let these photos mislead you. These were merely quiet instants between almost continuous squirms. Oh, and his eyes were open everytime I clicked the shutter. He kept shutting them as soon as the flash went off. Little turkey!

NC, using my leg as a pillow ...


May 25, 2005
10:16 AM

And now my hand as a pillow. Note his missing ear tips and scrapes around his face - legacies of battles with weather, other cats, and the live trap.


May 25, 2005
10:17 AM

My legs apparently make an adequate bed ...


NC is feeling MUCH better. He spent most of the day lying on top of a pair of jeans on the tub surround, NOT in a hidey hole! AND he even forgot to hiss at me once when I came into the bathroom! AND he played with several different toys tonight (including my hand) without having to get high on nip! When I turned out the light tonight and told him I'd see him in the morning, he called to me after I left the bathroom. What a sweetie.

This boy is really starting to come around. Tomorrow I will enlarge his territory to include the master bedroom where he will be able to watch the goings on of the household through the baby gates in the doorway that separate the bedroom from the livingroom.

This is the part of the acclimation process that all of the other animals hate. They're used to sleeping around the bedroom all day. They don't like being locked out while the newcomer gets that prime household real estate to himself. Hopefully NC will acclimate quickly so he won't have to stay in the bedroom too long. Being the timid fellow he is, though, this may take a bit of time.

One day at a time, just like with all the other wanderers who now call this place home.

May 26, 2005
11:16 PM

NC lost ground today, as I expected he would. I managed to get all the other 4-leggeds out of the master bedroom, then filled the doorway between the bedroom and livingroom with baby gates. Then I opened the door between the master bathroom and the bedroom. NC took one look at the open door and retreated behind the toilet on the other side of the bathroom where he stayed for the rest of the day and evening. He wouldn't come out for petting or food, though I did lift him out a couple of times to try to bolster his lagging courage with affection.

I'm hoping he'll come out from behind the toilet and find the nerve to at least look into the bedroom under cover of darkness tonight once everybody's asleep and quiet.

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes him to venture into the bedroom during daylight hours.

May 28, 2005
7:04 PM

No name yet. He's still pretty traumatized by having the bathroom door open. Joe says he came into the bedroom and jumped on the bed that first night, but I wasn't aware of it. Joe doesn't know whether he came out last night or not. He spends his days hiding behind the toilet out of sight of the bedroom. I did carry him into the bedroom twice and put him on the bed during daylight hours, but he raced back to the bathroom each time. I'll give him a couple more days to make his own explorations, but if he continues to hide out, I think I'll have to force the issue. I'll put the harness and leash on him and sit quietly with him in the bedroom for a few minutes at a time until he realizes no harm will come to him there.

I had to do the same thing with Annabelle last year to get her out of the bedroom. She was so scared of the other animals that she absolutely refused to come out on her own. After a few very stressful days on the leash in the livingroom watching the other animals wander around and largely ignore her, she realized she wasn't in mortal danger. Once she relaxed, the leash and harness came off, and she gradually joined the family.

NC is a whole lot more timid than any of the other strays, including Annabelle. In fact, the only cat in the family who used to rival NC's timidity is our other short-haired white boy, Bitsy. Bitsy spent most of the first 5 yrs of his life hiding in a closet (before we adopted him). Bitsy still prefers to spend his time in quiet reflection with minimal interaction with the other cats, but he no longer hides in dark seclusion. Perhaps I can talk him into mentoring NC and teaching him how to overcome his fear. There's just something about these short-haired white boys.

May 31, 2005
10:25 AM

When anyone other than Joe and myself enter this house, all 10 (now 11) cats usually vanish like they were never here. Actually, Somer tends to stay put if she's in the livingroom already. She isn't a girl who likes to be displaced. Occasionally Weasel and Pretty will make an appearance if the visitor is someone who's been here enough to be recognizable. Bitsy will sometimes ignore a frequent visitor if he's napping on the dog bed in front of the TV. The others never come out to see guests and will refuse to come in if they were out when the guest arrived.

NC is making excruciatingly slow progress. He comes into the bedroom every night now, sometimes being very vocal about it into the wee hours of the morning. Yesterday was the first time he allowed me to carry him to the side of the bathroom where he could look into the bedroom during daylight hours. I sat with him on my lap for some time while he kept a close eye on whatever boogiemen might be waiting to attack him from the bedroom.

This morning, however, marked a bold move for NC. For the first time, he wasn't behind the toilet when I went to check on him. In fact, he wasn't in the bathroom at all! I looked all over the bedroom and finally found him hiding under a box in the corner of Joe's closet. But at least it was a move out of the bathroom. LOL!

I dug him out of the closet, and instead of racing back into the bathroom, he dove under the bed where he's been ever since. He won't come out to visit me and hissed at me when I slid his breakfast under there for him (did I mention that he hasn't been hissing at me much anymore?), but again, at least he's out of the bathroom. Of course, his litterbox is in the bathroom, and if he doesn't have the nerve to come out from under the bed ...

Ain't life grand? ;-)

May 31, 2005
10:30 PM

When I first captured NC, he had a bunch of fresh scrapes on his face, no doubt from smashing his head repeatedly against the walls of the live trap trying to escape (poor baby!) and a number of older scabs from, I assume, cat fights. I've been picking off the old scabs so they can heal up, and his scrapes will eventually grow hair back over them. NC's also been picking up weight, and those previously heartbreaking eyes of his have lost their sadness. Now they express suspicion, playfulness, anxiety, and even joyfulness instead.

NC did finally come out from under the bed this morning when I went in to spend some time with him. He rubbed and rolled and wrestled with me for a while, all the time staying within a couple of inches of the bed just in case a quick getaway was in order. Mew came up to the other side of the baby gates and started rolling around which immediately drew NC's attention. NC watched Mew for a few minutes, then moved behind me so he couldn't be seen directly by Mew. He then continued to roll around and act silly for a while before slinking off to the bathroom. When I left, NC was back behind the toilet again.

This evening I went to visit him and he was back under the bed again. I sat on the floor and ate my dinner, hoping the aromas would lure him out. No luck this time. He couldn't be coaxed to come out and play again. He will, no doubt, serenade us with his caterwauling later tonight. Oh joy.

P.S. I am pretty certain NC had never seen the inside of a house before he landed here. House cats don't get frostbitten ears. Barn cats do.

Jun 1, 2005
9:35 AM

NC has escaped, and I don't know if I'll be able to get him back. I am so angry I just want to rip Joe to shreds. Last night after I went to bed, Joe put a fan in the window and neglected to pull out the plastic slider that fills the window gap. He knows cats will pull the screens out. It's happened before. And he knows it would have been at least a year before NC was secure and comfortable enough here to be allowed to go outside again. But he couldn't be bothered to secure the fan properly to ensure NC's safety. So now he is gone.

I could turn into a blubbering mess and cry all day for my lost little boy, but anger is a much more productive emotion. As long as I don't fall apart, I can eventually calm down and plan a strategy to try to recapture NC. I doubt if he's left the farm, and even if he has, at least he's had time to recover from his neuter, get a basic vaccination, have his ears cleaned up, and put on a pound or two. He's also been able to do a little bonding with me and Joe, so there is at least the slightest chance that he'll allow us to get close enough to at least see him every now and then.

I'm very worried, though, about the haying we'll be doing in another week or two. Cats get caught and killed in haying equipment on farms every year. They get disoriented if they're in the hayfield when the mower comes through and end up running right into the thing or freezing in place and getting run over. And of course they're invisible in the tall grass. I wouldn't be quite so worried if NC were an older, more experienced cat, but he's just a youngster. He probably hasn't survived more than one haying season, assuming he even came from a place that put up hay.

And then there are the other cats. Billy has already suffered one abscess dangerously close to his eye as a result of tangling with NC before I captured him the first time. Who knows what sort of injury NC may inflict on the other cats outside, or vice versa. Hopefully the neutering will have eliminated enough hormones to make fighting a less appealing pastime for NC.

I can't imagine NC will fall for the live trap again, but I may wait a week and try it again. I'll leave food out for NC each night for the next few nights, then withhold it for a few nights before baiting the live trap again.

I don't know. I'm pretty numb at the moment. My mind will work more clearly later, I'm sure.

Please send a prayer and homecoming vibes to NC. I want my sweet little scaredy cat back where I can keep him safe.

Jun 1, 2005
2:11 PM

OMG! As I was just out photographing irises, I heard that howl out by the manure pile on the other side of the yard. I thought, "Oh good, as least now I know NC is still around". As I started walking in that direction, I saw who I thought was NC on top of the manure pile with a black cat crouched a foot away. I figured one of the black girls was having an "encounter" with scaredy boy. I called to them, and the black cat immediately slunk away. As I continued to approach, the white cat walked in my direction. I was stunned until I recognized him as Billy and not NC at all. I then climbed the manure pile to call the black cat, who I now figured was NOT one of the black girls (they wouldn't elicit that sort of angry response from Bill). Sure enough, there was no reply when I called (which there would have been from the black girls). So, seems #12 is now on site and ready to rumble.

What does this mean for the resident cats, for NC, and for the black menace? I can't begin to imagine.

I'm getting that worn out feeling.

Jun 1, 2005
7:13 PM

Yep, #12 is here, and by here I mean in the bedroom. I was just out in the iris beds again and heard a cat calling from the tall grass in the direction opposite that where I had just left Billy and Somer. It was that mournful call that a tom makes when looking for love. He yodeled a few times then trilled like NC had been doing in the bedroom, so of course I thought it was him. I walked slowly in the direction of the calling, not wanting to spook him, but he kept talking to me and holding his ground. I got so close I figured he had to be just feet away from me in the tall grass when a charming ginger tabby (ALL boy) emerged and approached. In typical feline fashion, he stayed just out of hand's reach, rolling around on the ground and teasing me with his obvious friendliness. I followed him for a couple of minutes before he started following me. He finally relented and came within petting distance. Several head butts later, and he's in my bedroom. There's NO shyness in this guy.

Now I'll have to whisk him off to the vet for neutering and other assorted maintenance. He needs a few pounds and looks to be somewhat older than scaredy boy. He was having a lovely time marking territory outside when I caught up to him. I do hope he isn't inclined to do so inside (but I expect he will be). He's a handsome fellow. I hope he's the one who looked black to me from a distance this morning. If not, that means we have a third stray wandering around here somewhere, causing trouble.

I still want my scaredy boy back. Such a tender psyche shouldn't be out there on his own. I haven't caught sight of him all day. I hope ginger boy didn't chase him off.

Jun 1, 2005
11:18 PM

Well, there's good news and there's not so good news. I found NC. I haven't recaptured him yet.

As soon as it got dark tonight, Joe and I went out with our headlamps to try to locate NC. I have found that it's MUCH easier to find cats at night when a flashlight will reflect their eyes. Anyhow, we didn't even make it down the front steps before I flashed a pair of eyes in the garage. It's a very large pole building that is packed to overflowing with JUNK EVERYWHERE! Anyhow, I had Joe pull down the garage door behind me and fill the gap at the bottom of the door with empty feed bags. Then I proceeded to try to locate and capture NC, to no avail. I got close twice before he raced off, but I ultimately gave up.

I decided that since he is in an enclosed space (and probably has been in the garage all day with no food or water), I'd bait and set the live trap in the garage tonight. I covered it with a blanket to try to disguise it somewhat and used really smelly, fish flavored canned cat food to bait it. If he doesn't fall for it, at least I can keep him locked in the garage until after hay season.

Please, everyone, send my scaredy boy mental messages to go into the trap this one last time.

I'll let you know if we have success in the morning.

Jun 2, 2005
8:59 AM

Unfortunately, that wasn't just a failure; it was a miserable failure. Not only did NC not take the bait in the trap, he also pushed through the feed bags and escaped the garage. So, he's out here somewhere, scared, and I know in his heart wanting to be safe and warm and loved. He's just too scared to let it happen.

If he can just survive haying season, I still have all summer and fall to try to recapture him before winter hits the northland again.

Keep those good, protective vibes coming. NC's going to need them.

Jun 2, 2005
1:37 PM

I suppose it won't hurt to keep the trap set each night ... until I start catching things I don't want to catch. I'm always reluctant to leave food out because I don't want to lure in wild critters that may potentially predate on the animal I'm actually trying to feed. It's a catch 22; let him go hungry or possibly bring danger to his doorstep.

I've got the trap for a couple of weeks before I have to return it to wildlife services. Maybe I'll wait a few days and then try warmed up tuna in it.

Another possibility is that there's yet a third stray on the farm. From a distance, it sure looked like Billy was having a standoff with a black cat on the manure pile yesterday. Then again, my eyes can barely see clearly up close anymore, so it's just as likely the cat I thought was black was actually the ginger male I caught yesterday afternoon. But if not, there may still be a black stray hanging around, as well.

Oh joy.

Ginger male is in town for the big snip-snip this afternoon. He's probably the most self-confident cat I've ever met. Not only is he obnoxiously friendly, he also has not one iota of reserve about encountering other animals. He spent all night visiting with the other cats and even the Bossie Aussies through the baby gates. Of course, he had to make it clear to the Bossy Aussies that he wasn't going to put up with ANY nonsense from them! I imagine this beast would make an incredible therapy cat. Nothing seems to phase him.

Jun 2, 2005
8:50 PM

... and ginger boy still has his ... um ... snip-ees. My vet was called out on an emergency so had to cancel the cat's "procedure". Ah, a reprieve! But ginger boy better enjoy 'em while he's got 'em, cuz that snip-snip is gonna happen before the end of the weekend!

I haven't spied scaredy boy today, but I'll go out and look for him again after dark. Not that I expect him to allow me to get anywhere close.

Jun 3, 2005
1:26 PM

Mouseketeer #1 - NC I saw him last night on the manure pile as I was going out to bring the horses in for the night. Still no luck recapturing our little scaredy boy.

Mouseketeer #2 - Ginger Boy Will have the big snip-snip tomorrow as long as my vet doesn't get called out on another emergency and have to reschedule again. GB is VERY vocal, luring love with wails and trills. I'm hoping the neuter will turn down his volume a bit. He is SUCH a shameless lover and now a kept man that I've been considering asking him if he'd accept Gigolo as a name.

Mouseketeer #3 - Black Phantom When I walked back out to manure pile after dark last night to try to have a calm talk with NC, NC was nowhere to be seen, but the Black Phantom's eyes glowed into my headlamp. BP wouldn't stand his/her ground, but I did get a good enough look to know my eyes weren't deceiving me the other day when I thought I saw Billy having a standoff on the manure pile with a black cat. Apparently, BP has decided to stake out the manure pile as his/her territory.

I baited the live trap with warmed tuna last night and set it on the manure pile. No takers this morning. It occurred to me that perhaps NC sprayed the trap with all sorts of fear pheromones the first time he got caught in it, and that perhaps that's why neither he nor BP will go near it now. I hosed it off thoroughly today and will spray it later with a concentrated catnip spray to try to make it smell more appealing. I'll set it again tonight and see what happens.

I'm wondering, also, if The Three Mouseketeers might be siblings. It seems mighty odd that three cats would suddenly appear all at once here on the farm. I could understand it if I had intact females around, or even intact toms, but I don't. I find it interesting that both NC and GB have extraordinarily long tails (a hereditary trait, no doubt), though GB has a much larger bone structure than NC.

I just want to get them all neutered and out of the fields before we cut hay!

GB, mugging it for the camera.


Jun 3, 2005
1:27 PM

GB, full body shot.


Jun 3, 2005
3:38 PM

Update -

I glanced out the kitchen window and saw Billy and NC having a face-off in the iris beds. I walked out there to make sure they didn't come to blows, and NC held his ground until I reached the front of the bed. He then retreated a few feet into the tall grass outside the bed. I talked to him and approached very slowly, but each time I took a step forward, he took a bunch of steps back. When I reached Billy, I squatted down and petted him, talking to him and NC all the while. I could see NC's outline crouched in the tall grass.

I went back to the house and got a plate of warmed tuna in hopes of luring NC out of hiding, but even as Billy kept eating pieces off the plate, NC refused to come forward.

I suppose it was progress, though. The first time I saw NC back by the iris beds before I caught him the first time, he raced clear around the large brushy area and back to the hayshed in panic. This time his retreat was gradual and measured. There was no panicked racing away.

He's a long way from being recaptured, but at least if he makes it through haying season, we've still got a chance.

Jun 3, 2005
11:25 PM

NC spent all afternoon and evening with Billy doing some sort of social dance I don't know quite how to interpret. They don't appear to be either friends or enemies - just attached at the hip. Every time Billy moved, NC followed. Every time NC moved, Billy followed. Every time I encountered them, they were within a few feet of each other, either napping wakefully or sitting glaring at each other, mumbling nasties under their breath. Neither one seems inclined to either aggress toward or retreat from the other. Billy's always been a tough guy and very territorial, but NC surprises me. For such a scaredy cat with humans, NC obviously won't back down from other cats. He even displays amazing fortitude against the bothersome Bossy Aussies, though Tasha did manage to send him packing off to the hayshed to regroup for a few minutes.

As long as the white boys don't hurt each other, this may be a good thing. Perhaps Billy will be my ticket to convincing NC that I'm harmless. NC sure kept an eagle eye on Billy and me while we worked in the iris beds today.

I baited the live trap again tonight with my crew's absolute favorite flavor of Friskies canned.

Wish us all luck! ... ON TO CHAPTER TWO

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