The Black Cat

This one was probably 45 or 50 years ago, when the kids were young. We all liked cats and had several of them. Also, it seemed that when anyone dumped a cat in the neighborhood it ended up at our house.

One day, this young, black tomcat showed up. He had a beautiful, shiny, black coat and a sunny disposition as well. He seemed very smart and loved to be held and petted. We took him in and thought that since we already had too many cats we should try to find a home for him.

Over the next few days we all enjoyed having this guy around but discovered that when it was time for a bowel movement he would always do his job in the fireplace rather than the litter box. We kept our eyes open and if any of us spotted him heading for the fireplace we would grab him and deposit in the litter box. We tried for several days to teach him, but it just wasnt working. That settled it, and we decided there was no way we could keep him. He had to go.

Soon after, Pat was at work and one of the men said that his wife and kids were bugging him to get a kitten. Pat says Weve got a beautiful young male, only a few months old that was dropped off in our neighborhood. Hes got a beautiful black coat and loves kids and loves lots of attention.Her co-worker says he sounds perfect and Id like to have him.So, the next day, Pat takes the cat to work and gives him to the guy. A few days later, she sees the guy and asks him how the cat is doing. Oh, he says, hes such a beautiful cat and we all just love him!Then, he says, There is one thing…” Pat tries to look cool and unknowing as she asks What would that be?” “Well, says the guy, we cant keep him from crapping in the fireplace!

Dave Thomas
`July 13, 2014

 

Advertisements

Baby Cat: Here And There

We had never traveled with a cat. When we went off on vacation the cats and dogs stayed home. This trip was to be different, though. After retiring from work, Pat and I decided we needed something different. After living in California for forty years we wanted to get in a more central area and picked Texas as our new home. We made an exploratory trip and decided to buy a home. A cousin of mine owned a van line, an affiliate of United Van Lines, with offices in Wichita, Emporia, and Houston. His people gave us a decent quote and we decided to go with them. Also, I was thinking that if anything went wrong, I could call Cousin Ken and he would fix it.

At this time, the only animal we had left was Baby Cat. She was a mellow old girl, but we had no idea how she would do on the road. We didn’t want the two-day trip to be a traumatic experience for her, so we put some thought into her well-being.

Pat was going to be the driver. Macular degeneration had already messed up my vision. The State of California had already declared that my driver’s license would expire on December 31, 2001. We were leaving for Texas the next day.

We had a 7-passenger van and it was set up in the standard configuration. There were two sliding doors, two bucket seats in the front, two bucket seats in the middle, and a bench seat in the back. Behind the back seat there was a cargo area. We were only going to carry some personal items in the van and we stacked them on the back seat and in the cargo area.

To take care of Baby Cat, we placed a bath mat on the floorboard behind the driver’s seat and then placed a litter box on top of the mat. We hoped that would take care of any “accidents”. On the floorboard behind the front passenger seat, we placed a bowl of water, a bowl of dry food, and a small plastic plate for canned food. Under the driver’s seat, and handy to the litter box, we put a box of Zip-Lok plastic bags. The litter was the “clumping” kind so cleaning the litter box was no big deal. We put a roll of paper towels between the front seats and Pat kept her purse there. Those items served as a roadblock and kept the kitty from going between the seats and getting under Pat’s feet or between her and the pedals.

Baby Cat ended up with food and drink, a floor to stroll on, and the two middle seats for napping.

When traveling, we soon learned that the first few miles were the toughest. We could start down the road and within the first 15 minutes, Baby Cat would jump in the litter box and stink things up so bad we would almost gag. Pat would pull over at the first opportunity and we would clean the litter box. Once the poop was sealed in the plastic bag there was no odor and we would dispose of the bag at the first coffee stop.

Baby Cat always had an encore, too. Within the first 30 minutes, she would get sick at her stomach and throw up. What was funny, was that she would always run to the litter box and throw up in it. She never once made a mess on the carpet. After she had pooped and thrown up, she was good for the rest of the day. I know she was throwing up due to motion sickness. I remember, as a little kid, my Mom would always tell my sister and I not to look at the telephone poles as they flashed by or we would get sick. I think that’s what was getting Baby Cat. I had stacked that stuff in the one seat, so she would be high enough to see out the window, but she wouldn’t stay there. I even tried holding her, so she could see out and Pat could reach over and pet her, too. However, she would soon start squirming. I would reach back and set her down and she would run to the litter box and barf. This stuff happened on every trip we took with her. We finally realized it was inevitable and quit worrying about it.

Getting back to our move to Texas, we left San Diego early, on the morning of December 31, 2001, heading east on I-8. The weather was perfect for crossing the desert. We stopped for coffee and snacks in Yuma, Gila Bend, and the junction with I-10. By this time, we had developed a routine for caring for Baby Cat. We pulled into McDonald’s and parked where the van could be seen from a booth by a window. The temperature was mild, but we always cracked the windows for the kitty. By the time we got back to the car, Baby Cat would be wide awake, so we would spend a few minutes petting and talking to her., Sometimes, I would hold her for a few miles or until she got bored with it.

We headed south on I-10 with Baby Cat asleep most of the time. We went through Tucson where the walls of the embankment along the freeway are decorated so well. When we got to Willcox, we pulled off the highway at Rex Allen Drive to stop at McDonalds where Pat had a Diet Coke and I had coffee. You young whippersnappers may not know Rex Allen as “The Singing Cowboy” in the movies or as Frontier Doctor on TV. Oh, well.

We got to San Simon where my Grandpa once owned a quarter section of desert land and then crossed the border into New Mexico. We had considered spending the night in Los Cruces, but Pat said she had enough energy to go a little farther. We found a nice motel in one of the towns on the outskirts of El Paso. When we checked in, I told the desk clerk we had a cat with us. At this motel and on subsequent trips to Kansas and back to California the motels didn’t care and didn’t charge extra.

We took Baby Cat to the room first and let her look around. Then, we brought in the suitcases, litter box, food and water. We thought we had taken care of her needs well and we went on to dinner. When we returned to the room, Baby Cat was hiding under the bed. Leaving her alone in a strange place was more traumatic than we thought.

The next morning, wanting to get an early start, we quickly took the luggage, cat paraphernalia, and Baby Cat to the van. Pat and I went back inside and had a quick breakfast. We came out of the restaurant and headed for the van with Pat slightly ahead of me. She got there first and, peering inside, didnt see Baby Cat. She yelled that the cat had escaped and started unlocking the door. Im a diabetic and had my glucose meter in my hand. Hearing the urgency in Pats voice and worrying about the cat, I did something stupidI put the glucose meter on the roof of the car. We both had our sliding doors open and were looking like crazy for Baby Cat. Suddenly, Pat yells Here she is!Baby Cat came strolling out from the very back of the van. Relieved, we climbed in the car and tried to get back to breathing normally. We would both have gone nuts if the kitty was loose in that parking lot.

We got on the road and headed for El Paso. We hadnt gone far when I realized that my glucose meter wasnt in the glove compartment. I told Pat and she pulled over as soon as she could. I jumped out and checked the roof but of course, the meter was long gone. We realized there was nothing to do but find a drug store and buy a replacement. Of course, we also realized that it was just after 7:00 AM on January 1st, a holiday. As we hit

the outskirts of El Paso, we spotted a Wal-Mart and Pat got off at the next exit. We went into the Wal-Mart and found that the pharmacy was closed. We located the manager and asked her if she could get into the pharmacy and sell us a meter. She said she couldnt do that but if we would be patient she would be right back with some answers for us. A few minutes later she re-appeared and told us that there was a drug store about two miles down the road that was open and could take care of us. She gave us directions and sent us on our way. Sure enough, we found the place, bought a meter and were soon on our way.

Once that crisis was over, the rest of the day went well. In a couple of hours, we switched over to I-20 and went through Midland, Odessa, and Weatherford, and on to Keller. Traveling with Baby Cat went well. If anyone asked me for advice about traveling with a cat, I would first tell them what Ive told you. Next, I would suggest that they have a microchip implanted in their kitty and that she would wear a harness always, so shed be easier to catch.

Dave Thomas
March 18, 2018

Baby Cat

Our home on The Woods Drive, in El Cajon, was built on a hillside and was, of necessity, a multi-level home. Additionally, the developers had worked around the giant boulders that were scattered throughout the area and included them in the landscapes. If a boulder was in the way of a fence, they just fenced right up to it, cut a board to fit the contour, and continued on the other side. Knowing this will help you picture the dramatic events that occurred the night Baby Cat came to live with us.

The house next door was downhill from us. Our back deck was even with the ridge of their roof. The person who lived there was a nice little lady, a widow, and a grandmother. She lived by herself most of the time but sometimes had a teenage grandson stay with her when he was having trouble getting along with his parents.

Pat and I were working out in the yard one Saturday when the neighbor lady yelled at us. She wanted us to see the cute little kitten her grandson had brought with him that morning. We went over and saw the cutest little black and yellow cat with very unusual markings. We talked for a few minutes, petted the kitten, and went back to our yard work.

A few days went by and we hadn’t seen the neighbor lady. Pat asked another lady about it and learned that “grandma” had a stroke and then went to a rehab facility. After a couple of days, the grandson was ordered to return home to his parents.

Another day or two had gone by and Pat and I were caught up in our regular routine. We went to bed one night at the regular time. It was summer and since our bedroom windows were 25 or 30 feet above ground and not accessible, we left them open. Pat was awakened a couple of hours later by a crying noise. She got up and went to the window and heard a kitten meowing loudly and with anxiety. Figuring that it was that little neighbor kitten, she went downstairs to check. She stepped out on the back deck and heard the kitten’s cries coming from the back yard, next door. It was a bright, moonlit night so she went down the steps into the yard. The kitten was still crying, and she wanted to get to it, but the fence was 5 feet tall. Fortunately, this was one of the spots where a boulder, at least 8 feet in diameter, had been incorporated into the fence. The boulder had enough bumps, cracks, and crevices that it looked as if it could be climbed, so Pat started up. Being in her pajamas and bare footed, she was hardly dresses for rock climbing, but she decided to give it a go. She slipped a few times but reached the top and slid down the other side into the neighbor’s yard.

Pat could still hear the kitten crying. The sounds seemed to be coming from under the deck which was about 2 feet off the ground and open, all the way around. She moved slowly along the edge of the deck trying to protect her feet. She got to the place where the kitten’s cries seemed loudest and got down on her hands and knees and peered under. The moon light was bright enough that she could see and sure enough…there’s that black and yellow kitty with the big eyes. With a sigh of relief, Pat reached for the kitty but was brought up short by the sensation that she was being watched. She turned toward the end of the deck and there were two big coyotes watching her! OH, my gosh! Pat says she understood for the first time what it meant say “I was so scared, the hair on my arms stood up!” Grabbing the kitty, she got to her feet and started backing away. The coyotes just stood there, watching. Reaching the boulder, Pat started climbing. This side of the rock was slicker and since she had the kitten in one hand Pat was slipping and sliding and her anxiety level was getting higher as she tried to get to the top. The coyotes had moved a few feet as if to get a better look at her. She finally made it to the top, slid down the other side, and ran to the stairs. When she got up to the deck, she turned to look, and the coyotes were still staring up at her. She shuddered and went in the house and closed and locked the door.

The next morning, I was up first and as I entered the bathroom I heard a noise coming from the shower. I opened the shower door and there was that little black and yellow kitten! There was a towel on the floor for a bed and she had a bowl of water and some cat food. I wanted to keep moving so I could leave for work on time. I did my stuff and went on to the kitchen and got the coffee pot started. In a few minutes, Pat joined me in the kitchen and I said to her “There’s a kitten in our shower.” She replied, “Yeah, and you slept through all the excitement.” Then, she proceeded to tell me the story I just related to you. After hearing all the exciting details, I was amazed that she and the kitten hadn’t both ended up as a midnight snack for those coyotes.

We discussed what to do with the kitten. The “grandma” was going to be in rehab for an extended period and the grandson had abandoned the kitty and left her for the coyotes so we concluded that we should keep her. We already had a mature cat, Ms./Rambo, so we got in the habit of calling the little one “Baby Cat”. She grew up to be a mellow and loving cat-person and we enjoyed her company until she passed away at the age of 16.

Dave and Pat Thomas
January 13, 2018

 

Izzie 6b: Still In The Game

Our cat, Isabella, plays Hide & Seek with the same joy and passion as she did five years ago. She made up the game and still only plays it with Pat. I told you about this in “Izzie 6: Chase & Hide & Seek” and Lizzie 6a: The Games.” The girls are a little older, Izzie being 14 and Pat being 80, but they still play with gusto.

Thanksgiving has come and gone so our Christmas tree is up and all the decorations are in place. Last evening, Pat and I were watching television when suddenly we heard Izzie come galloping down the hall. When we are outside, and she is hunting lizards she can run through dried leaves without making a sound. But, when she wants to play, she can sound like a herd of wild horses.

Izzie raced on into the living room, came to a screeching halt, and started prancing around. She made eye contact with Pat to make sure she was watching and the dashed behind the recliner. Pat responded to her cue and jumped to her feet, not letting on that we had seen Izzie sneak over behind the Christmas tree. Next, Pat goes into her search routine. She goes around the room looking behind chairs, under the couch and behind doors. Pat carries on something terrible. ” Where’s my Isabella? Where’s my cat? I can’t find her! “She goes down the hall and peeks into the bedroom’s. “Where’s my Izzie?” After a couple minutes of this, Pat comes back and sits down. “I can’t find her. I give up.”

We sit there quietly and watch TV for a couple of minutes. Suddenly, Izzie leaps out from behind the Christmas tree. She makes a big deal of it. She extends her claws and kneads the carpet, making a popping sound as she pulls her paw back. Finally, she prances around, and I’d swear there is a grin on her face like a little kid. “I won, I won!” We clap and cheer and let her enjoy her big moment.

Dave Thomas
December 9, 2017

 

Rambo Rides Again!

In the story “MS. Rambo And The Fox” I told you about two of MS. Rambo’s escapades. To re-cap a little for you, she was a little thing, probably half Siamese because she had that trim build and I doubt that she weighed as much as eight pounds. She was just a young cat when her people, our neighbors up the hill, moved out and left her. For the next few months we saw her going from house to house, mooching a meal wherever she could. Pat always left some food and water on our patio for her. One dark and rainy evening we heard a terrible howling outside our front door. We opened it to discover that Ms. Rambo had decided to move in with us and to prove her good intentions and display her good manners, she had a live rat in her mouth as a hostess gift. Pat dried her off and I finally caught the rat, which she had dropped, and we began our coexistence. Pat and I petted Rambo and played with her and she became a delightful pet.IT turned out though, that Rambo pretty much hated everyone but Pat and I. When our grown kids were at the house, they kept a wary eye on her and hoped they wouldn’t be attacked.

At the time of Rambo’s next major performance, we were living in a gated community of 110 homes known as Avocado Estates. It was a great place for people and their animals. There were three avocado groves (free pickin’s for homeowners), an Olympic-size pool, club house, tennis courts, a fishing pond, and a hiking trail. We lived there for 11 years and enjoyed every minute of it. We only left because retirement was on the horizon and we wanted to downsize and simplify our lives.

The tract was built on a couple of the steepest residential hills I have ever seen. This meant that most of the homes were split level. Our home was on a corner lot, having a street running across the front or east side and a street running down the south side. That street on the south side was the steepest hill in the development and crested at our corner. Our lot was so steep that if you looked at our house from the front, it appeared as a single story. If you looked at the house from the back, it looked like a three-story structure. The redwood deck, outside the main floor was the same height as a normal second story. The redwood deck ran the full width of the house and had a standard 36″ high railing.

One beautiful day, Pat and I were sitting on the back deck. Ms. Rambo was seated, on her haunches, on the railing at the south side of the deck. We were busy, talking, and not paying much attention to Rambo. She was busy, bathing, and enjoying the sun. All of a sudden, Rambo jumped to her feet and went into her “high alert” stance. Naturally, we were curious to know what was going on and jumped to our feet, too. We all looked out to the south and saw a neighbor walking down the middle of the street as his dog wandered ahead of him. This guy never had his dog on a leash but let it wander through every yard it came to and was probably relieving himself at each one though it was hard to catch him at it.

The dog made it over into our yard and was going from bush to bush and smelling everything. We could see that Rambo was itching to go after this mutt. She was strung up tighter than a guitar string. “This intruder needs to be punished!” The dog kept coming until he was nearly below us. All of a sudden, Rambo jumped! Pat and I leaned forward to see what was happening. The area directly behind the house was fenced off and there was a gate almost directly under the deck. Rambo went flying through the air and landed on the top of a 4″ x 4″ gate post. She bounced off on to the back of that rotten dog. The dog jumped straight into the air and then took off running, yelping at every step. Rambo had her claws in deep and looked like a regular jockey looks when they are hunkered down and the horse is running flat out. The dog’s owner was yelling and flapping his arms and trying to get them to stop but there was no stopping Rambo. She was making a “money ride” today.

A while later Ms. Rambo came prancing home. Maybe it was just our imaginations, but we thought she had a big smile on her face and was acting mighty proud. Well, we were mighty proud, too.

Dave Thomas
June 16, 2017

 

The Porter Ranch Cougar

Russ has been working on a big housing development this past year. The job is only 15 or 20 minutes drive from where he lives and is the closest to home he has ever worked. Ventura County has a lot of big, rocky hills so Russ has had an interesting time of it. They are chopping the tops off the hills and have a blasting crew working every day. Russ has been driving a D-11 Cat and doing the ripping after each blast.

Russ told me a good story and I’ll try to repeat it for you. If I mess it up, he can straighten me out later. Here it is:

When the job first started, Russ was one of the first guys brought in. He was setting grade stakes and climbed the biggest hill on the place to check out the lay of the land. It was too steep to drive so he had to hike up and grabbed onto bushes to get to the top. When he got there he was looking around and ran across some of the biggest paw prints he had ever seen. He figured it was a mighty big mountain lion and he was uneasy about being afoot and got the heck out of there. He told the other guys about it and they thought he was nuts. Over the next few days two of the crew had to go up there and they saw the tracks and backed Russ up on his story. Of course, the rest of the men continued to tease him about his phantom mountain lion. This happened several months ago and no one has reported anything since. However, I was talking with Russ on the phone and he told me some interesting stuff. He says there is another big housing development (Porter Ranch) being built near the one he is working. Last week, the water truck driver spotted a big mountain lion and was able to get a picture of it. Russ said he was sure glad because some of his crew were still laughing at him about it and he feels that now he will finally have some credibility. Russ shared the picture with us.

Dave Thomas
August 16, 2016

Mountain Lion

Angels, Cats, and Hummingbirds

We live about 1 1/2 to 2 miles west of Miramar Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF). Miramar puts on an air show in October of each year and it’s now billed as the top air show in the country with this year’s attendance forecasted to be 700,000. The stars of the big show are the Blue Angels and their performances are amazing. We are lucky in that when they make a low pass at the Miramar runway it brings them straight down our main thoroughfare and we can see them from the front of the house or the patio

This year’s air show was to be held last weekend, October 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Last Tuesday, about 8:30 in the morning, the house starts shaking, the windows rattle, and the roaring noise is so loud you can’t hear the TV and Good Morning America! The Blue Angels are back in town and this time they are coming with seven FA-18’s and a giant C-130. The noise was deafening. Isabella, the cat, was going crazy as she rushed from one hiding place to the next trying to get away. As the planes made their low pass to say “hello” it was a reminder that Miramar was the home of the original Top Gun school and the place where the movie was made.

I really enjoy the Blue Angels but was concerned about Izzie, the cat. Wednesday and Thursday, as the Blue Angels practiced for their performance, she was running from one hiding place to the next and was totally freaked out. I tried to catch her and comfort her but wasn’t fast enough. Friday was the first day of the air show and the Blue Angels lifted off about 2:30 for their performance. When I heard the roar of their first pass coming at us, I jumped up and started calling Izzie. Apparently, she had put up with all she could stand. When I got to the bedroom, she dashed out from under the bed and ran to my feet and assumed the stance she takes when wanting to be picked up. I sat down on the bed and held her in my lap facing me. She sat with her front legs stiff as poles and stared me right in the eye. I started stroking her back and telling her over and over that it was going to be okay. To be “okay”, was a concept she had learned when we were dealing with the trash trucks. She had been going nuts when dealing with them and I told her over and over that she would be okay and finally she accepted the fact that the noise of the trucks wouldn’t hurt her and now she could care less.

We sat there as the Blue Angels went through their routine with me stroking Izzie’s back and telling her it was okay while she sat there all stiff-legged and stared at me and was ready to cut and run the second I flinched and acknowledged trouble. All of a sudden, the stiffness went out of her body and she seemed to relax as the Blue Angels finished their performance.

The next day, Saturday, at 2:30, here we go again. When I heard the roar coming, I jumped to my feet and went to find Izzie. She was in the bedroom again but this time she was stretched out full length and was sound asleep! I was amazed! I watched her as the planes made a couple more passes and the house shook and the windows rattled but she never moved a muscle. I know she was awake but she had conquered her fear. Sunday, the final day of the air show was good, too. Izzie went about her business without a second thought to the noise.

One of the best things about the Miramar Air Show has been the ability to get good pictures of the Blue Angels. On most of their runs they come in from the west so we can stand out on our patio and catch them coming in and snap pictures as they are coming right up the gut. We can also go out in our front yard and shoot them going away as they break into their fantastic routines like the star-burst pattern. Its fun either way but I prefer to catch them from the patio as they are coming “head on”.

I’ve gotten some good pictures in the past but this year things were different. I had a great camera but Kodak no longer supported the software and it didn’t work with Windows 7. I sold the camera on eBay and bought a lesser camera that I can carry in my shirt pocket.

The trees in our neighborhood have grown. Now, you can hear the Blue Angels coming but they crest the trees and you only have about 2 seconds to find them in the view finder and snap the shutter before they are gone. My eyesight has gotten worse and my reflexes are slower so I’m practically worthless. After 2 days of practice and 3 days of the air show, I didn’t have one decent picture. I gave up and went back to taking pictures of the humming birds as they came to visit our feeder. They are tiny little creatures and fast but they will hover and stay in one place long enough to get their picture.

Fortunately, Pat realized that I was failing in my assignment as an action photographer and she grabbed her i-phone and ran out into the front yard and got some Blue Angel pictures that she forwarded to my computer. Thanks to her, I’ve got a couple of pictures of the planes to go along with my humming birds.

308a

211

014

Dave Thomas
October 7, 2014