Clowder? No that isn’t a typo. I didn’t mean chowder. I actually meant clowder. What is a clowder, you might ask? A clowder is a group of adult domestic cats. How do I know this? Why Google of course.
We have six cats in our clowder. And no, I am not one of those eccentric cat women that has multitudes of cats running a muck in her home. In fact, up until a couple of years ago, I never particularly even liked cats. I was always more of a dog kind of girl (meaning that I liked dogs, not so much that I look like a dog although there are some who may disagree.) Growing up, we always had a dog. We never had a cat, ever. My mother had a fear of them, and I may have inherited that fear from her. Cats have always had a devious, evil look in their eyes. The kind of look that made you think they’d eat you if you were smaller than them. They slunk around, stalking and pouncing.
In fact, I remember one the first dates I had with my husband back in the day (way back). We’d gone to dinner and went back to his place to talk (And yes, we actually were talking. I wasn’t that kind of girl either). As I sat back in a chair I let one of my arms dangle over the edge. I remember being nervous, but I was just starting to relax a little when out of no where his cat Claude attacked my arm. I jumped out the chair to find the inside of my wrist scratched and bleeding. It stung, a lot. My husband (prospective boyfriend at the time) was very apologetic. He thought it was my perfume that caused the unwanted attention from his beloved pet. Thinking back, maybe it was a sign… I didn’t let his cat scare me off… But, from then on I was very wary of his cat and stopped wearing perfume.
That experience along with a couple other interactions with a couple of other deviant cats (you know who you are:)) had always made me leery of cats. The weird part is, it seems that cats can sense my fear or dislike of their swarthy breed and seem to swarm me. If I’m at a cat loving friends’, it never fails I find their rubbing on my legs or sneaking up next to me, waiting for me to put my guard down I think.
So why might I have six cats? Well its really not my fault in the least. You see over the course of several summers, I new kitten has adopted us and become part of this clowder that mouses the barns and fields around my home. A sucker for the sweet meow and two little girls that adore kittens, we have allowed them to adopt us.
The first appeared almost five years ago. Named by my oldest daughter, “Alice” after her favorite show at the time “Angelina Ballerina.” Alice being Angelina’s best friend. A big fluffy gray tiger, he rubbed up against my daughter’s legs and purred.
“Can we keep her, Mom?” she asked. I sighed. It was early spring and still snow on the ground.
“She probably has a home somewhere around here,” I said looking around to a couple of houses in the distance. “If he’s still around tomorrow, we’ll give her some food.” Of course the cat was still hanging out by the garage the next day and the next. So, we bought a couple bowls and some dry cat food. My husband decided that if we were going to feed the cat, we should also get it vet care as well. The cat was limping a bit as well.
At the vet, we found out the Alice was actually a boy cat. Go figure. But, his name had already stuck. He was already Alice. I know, I know, how could I not tell the difference between a boy cat and girl cat? You see the thing the private parts of a boy cat don’t seem to be as obvious as say the boy parts of a horse or a dog…
Over the next few summers our group of cats grew. It seemed a new kitten appeared. It didn’t make much sense to me as each new one came, the girls would coddle and cuddle them. My husband would insist we take them to the vet. And so all but the one cat in our clowder we cannot catch, have been fixed and have their shots. (Hmmm. Maybe the vet is tipping people off that our road is good place to drop off stray kittens…) We have (lucky) Penny, Groucho (who has a groucho-like mustache), Perry the Catypus (the uncatchable one, who has had two litters this past summer although only one kitten survived (now called Two Socks)), and Kit Kit (the beloved, lovable kitten that stole everyone’s hearts two summer’s ago.) Kit Kit also turned out to be a boy cat as Perry who we thought was a boy turned out to be a girl (as evidence by her propensity to get with kitten even though all are boy cats could not possibly be the dad.).
Kit Kit is super-friendly and loving. My youngest carries him around by his tail, his head and any other place she can grab him. She pets him and pushes him around in her stroller. And he let’s her. Without a care in the world. He just lies there and goes limp. He doesn’t run when he spots her. He comes up to her and rubs her legs.
So the trouble began earlier this week on my way to work. Imagine that icky sick feeling you get when you see something unpleasant. That is the exact feeling I had when we pulled out of the driveway and I saw a furry lump lying in the road. My heart sank along with my stomach. It looked like Kit Kit from a distance. The girls immediately started to go hysterical as I turned the van back around. The wind was blowing and a slushy snow was pelting down. I pulled over to the side of the road and cautiously. Made my way to the lifeless lump. It was a black and white cat that looked a lot like Kit Kit or Groucho. They look a lot a like except for their faces. Great. I gently move the cat. He was still warm. Ugh.It must have just happened. “Who is it” I could her the girls crying.
“I’m not sure,” I called back. And I wasn’t. The injury to the cat made it impossible to see the markings on his face. Great, I thought. I was already running behind and wasn’t quite sure what to do. I mean it was obvious the cat was already dead. But a glance back at the girls, I knew I couldn’t just leave that cat lying in the road to get run over again and again. So I carefully pick the cat up out of the road. Yes, I couldn’t believe it myself. I was actually picking up a dead cat with my bare hands (thank God for hand sanitizer) and moved him under some bushes out of view. It was then out of the corner of my eye that I saw Kit eating the kibble on the driveway. That was quite a relief. It had to be Groucho.
The mood in the van was somber. Poor Groucho. My oldest daughter lamented over the past cats we have lost, including the one that I accidentally ran over in the garage. I silently thanked God I wasn’t the cat killer this time.
“I even prayed to God last night to keep my family and the cats safe,” she continued. “Wait. Oh No,” she said. “It was the rabbits I prayed for. I forgot the cats!” I reassured her that her omission didn’t cause poor Groucho to get hit. He’s a barn cat. Stuff happens.
They rest of the day my heart was heavy thinking about the prospect of going home and burying one of our best mousers. As I pulled in the driveway, our clowder was waiting for us to feed them. There was Alice, Kit Kit, Two Socks and Groucho! If that was Groucho and Kit Kit, then who was that cat under the bushes? Only Penny and Perry were missing. Not Penny I thought.
I went to take a look. Because of the rain and fur, it was really tough to discern. The cat really didn’t look like either one of them. Hmmm. We’d have to wait until my husband got home. We cover the cat in a towel and place him in a cardboard box. I brought the box into the garage because it was getting dark.
Later that night, my husband and I stood around the box. He took one look at the laid out cat. “That’s not our cat,” he said.
“Really. It is probably that tom that kept knocking up Perry,” he said.
We went inside to tell the girls the good news. We at least the good news for Penny and Perry. Not so good for the unnamed cat in the garage.
As the week has passed, we have accounted for all our cats, except Perry. I haven’t seen her around nor have the girls. My husband claims he’s seen her, but I kind of wonder… I’m keeping my eye out for her. Maybe she is just out and about find a new lover. I’m sure we’ll find out this spring.
And that is the end of my cat troubles for now. I never thought I’d care about a bunch of cats, but somehow they have become part of the family.