~ Gallery & Photo Story Blog ~

~ Photo Story Blog ~

The stories below are attached to photos from some of my life experiences with animals.  Many lessons have been learned from these animals.  New photos and lessons will be added to this blog  periodically, so please check in now and then and enjoy!

 

      Mom Saves Nimrod, the Might Hunter

All sorts of things can happen to little animals on a farm. When you have feral cats residing in your barn, you will also have kittens. Most of the time I was growing up, we were not allowed to have cats as pets in the house. So I was grateful the feral mother cats didn’t seem to mind if we played with their kittens. I named one little gray tiger kitten Nimrod (the mighty hunter) because he was rambunctious – stalking and pouncing on everything. Nimrod had also survived the first test for a barn kitten: getting to the fresh cow's milk we’d put out without getting stepped on by one of the cows. The barn kittens sometimes had early symptoms of Distemper - the highly contagious virus feline panleukopenia (FPV). We’d first notice it as a crusty discharge around the eyes. Left untreated, a kitten with distemper can die.   I was taught to dissolve a small amount of boric acid in boiling water, let it cool, then dip cotton balls in the water and carefully wash the discharge off the kitten’s eyes. I would do this faithfully twice a day for a week or so until their eyes cleared up. One day, I noticed an odd looking opening on the bridge of Nimrod’s nose. It wasn’t a wound; it looked like an opening to a tiny cave. Because I thought I saw something moving in there, I showed my mother. Now, although a good farm wife, my mother did not like to go in the barn and would get up on a chair if a mouse ran across the kitchen (one reason I lobbied for a house cat).  But she helped me with Nimrod.  She figured out the “something” I was seeing at the opening on Nimrod’s nose was alive and probably some sort of larvae. She bravely got tweezers and pulled an incredibly long disgusting looking white worm (AKA fly larvae) out of that tiny kitten’s face. Although overwhelmingly intrigued with this new development in my understanding of animals and their life challenges living in a barn, I was most impressed with my mother for having the courage to remove the thing. I think this was one of my first realizations about how you cannot put a person in a general category (e.g., wimpy Mom) based on one trait (fear of mice). I began to notice my mother and her interactions with animals. I watched her hang laundry on the clothesline while talking to a garter snake sunning on a rock. She’d put sunflower seeds in her hand and birds would perch and eat them. Then there was the day the cow fell in the swimming pool. But that’s another story…      

[Photos: Me holding Nimrod; Mom with birds on her hands.]

                            Gray Bahamian Mama Cat                                                                          

Speaking of mothers... in the Bahamas there is the very small island of San Salvador (AKA Columbus Isle). This is where Christopher Columbus actually landed before realizing it was not the mainland he was aiming for. It is about 10 miles long and has one resort. My husband and I have gone there for a week’s vacation most winters for a number of years. One year there were several feral island cats and one I noticed in particular - a very scrawny light gray tiger cat. I had seen her when we walked back from meals to our room, and heard the staff angrily chasing her away from the kitchen garbage. She had made eye contact with me from the bushes and I noticed she was a nursing mother. Not wanting to cause problems in the eating areas, I brought little bits of fish from lunch back to my room and took them with me when I went out on the balcony to read. Within minutes she showed up and politely waited for me to invite her up on the porch to eat. I was well aware the resort staff would not approve, but could see her desperation. She was not comfortable enough for me to touch her, yet this went on for the few days until we left. The next year, our room was in a different location – far from the restaurant area. The first morning after our arrival, I opened the doors to our little porch and the cat was curled up on the chair. She was so proud to show me how she was healthy, well-fed (and spayed), and ready to let me hold her!  [Photo: Me and my island cat friend.]

Do Cats Teach?

In 2007, after my 19 ½ year old cat Elvira died, we adopted two calico cats. They informed me their names were Fiona and Twig. By the time Elvira left us, she had completely given up catching mice, so we were pleased to see Fiona wasted no time assuming her duties as house mouser. Twig had different interests. If she saw a mouse or chipmunk, she’d pick it up like a tiny precious kitten and let it loose in the house. It would hide under furniture or in the radiators, and when it came out, she’d chase it for fun. Things went fine for these little rodents until Fiona saw them and promptly ate them. This photo was taken one day when I saw these two intently focused on some activity under the radiator. Fiona had a tiny mouse, who was slightly injured but could still try to get away. Fiona would bat the mouse toward Twig, indicating she was supposed to go get it. Twig would literally jump straight up in the air backwards away from the mouse. Patiently, Fiona would retrieve the mouse and bat it toward Twig again, who would jump backwards. This was patiently repeated many times until the mouse revived itself enough to hide under a large piece of furniture. Exasperated, Fiona gave up teaching, and ate the mouse later when it finally came out. Twig still does not hunt mice… and still brings in healthy chipmunks so she can chase them around the house. There is no question in my mind Fiona was trying to teach Twig how to kill a mouse. I never thought I’d say this, but apparently you can bring a cat to a mouse, but you can’t make her eat it.

                                                                                                                               

 

© Copyright Pamela LipeRevercomb