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A Cat's Tale



This is a story about desire, persistence and willingness.

Chris and I moved from the suburbs of Carmichael to live in a rural setting in Placer County on five acres some twenty years ago. We brought along Sunny a female Dobie and two horses that were living at a friend’s.

During these past twenty years our family grew and at one point we had five horses another female Dobie and as many as five cats. Time and circumstance have over the years reduced our family. Each one loved for who they were. Each one different in their own way as all animals are and each one deserving of its own story, but this story is about a cat we named Target.  

First I must say Chris and I were not cat people, I think the idea of having cats came about after we built a three horse stall barn with a tack room and the thought having a few barn cats would be good. The first two brother cats we got didn’t work out, then a single female cat we named Gracie did and we had her for many, many years. She lived at the barn and during those years we had a few other barn cats that came and went. My niece persuaded us to take a cat named Bandit, he was so big he barley fit in the cat cage. Bandit was our first house cat and we loved him. We then had a series of house cats that came and when for different reasons. We had Bandit for years and one day he had a heart attack and left us as well.

One Christmas Chris and I gave my dad a big orange male cat named Louie; my dad was very fond of orange cats. After my dad passed away we brought Louie out to live with us. We watched Louie turn from a total skitzo cat into an amazing cat. Louie is the only cat I’ve ever seen who looked directly into your eyes, more than that really he looked directly into you. He was the most intelligent cat I’ve ever been around and I was lucky enough to have become his human. We were nap buddies, he’s gone now and I miss him.

During the time of Louie we gained a few more cats one was named Rascal we adopted him from a family who had a member become allergic to him. He and Bandit were what I call upside down cats, which means you could hold them in your arms upside down and rub their bellies. (They were perfect little girl cats)  

Rascal was a totally passive cat (As was Bandit) and as such he and Louie got along just fine the two spent every night in the garage. During this time Chris rescued a family of feral cats from her dad’s back yard. The idea was to have them live out at the barn. Gracie had disappeared one night and we assumed she had met her fate. (When you live in a rural area not all die from natural causes) At first we had momma cat and four kittens eventually a friend took three leaving us two. But all too soon momma cat got run over and we were left with the kitten we named Nina. So now we have Louie, Rascal who are in and out house cats and Nina who lives at the barn.

About three years ago a feral orange tom cat started showing up occasionally strictly at the outer edges of our property. You couldn’t get within 50 to 75 yards of him before he would take off. Many times I thought it was Louie when I first saw him. For a long, long time he stayed away but slowly started getting braver at first he would go into the barn and eat Nina’s dry food occasionally I would walk in on him eating and he would fly past me until he was out of site. He eventually became even braver and would come into the garage and eat Louie and Rascal’s food. But he started beating up on all three of them. On numerous occasions I had taken my shot gun out and was going to shoot him if I could. 

Eventually he started hanging around more and more you would see him lying closer and closer to the house. When you would encounter him outside he would not run away like did and he stopped beating up on the other cats. It was during this time we noticed he had one eye where the pupil was up in the top left corner of his eye. Don’t know how much sight he has in it, he moves his head around I assume get a good look at what he’s seeing. He was and is able to hunt so he’s figured out how to make it work. It was becoming obvious he wanted to be part of our little family. During this time Rascal passed way and that left Louie and Nina We decided to name him and because he had sort of orange and white swirls on both his sides Chris came up with two names, Bulls Eye or Target because that’s what his sides looked like. I liked Target and that’s what we started calling him.

We would feed Rascal and Louie wet food at night in the garage and I started calling Target to come and eat. It didn’t take him any time at all to recognize his name and would come into the garage and eat. Louie didn’t like it of course and would hiss, Rascal didn’t care so that started the next faze of Targets evolution. Eventually we started locking Target in the garage with Louie and Rascal. When Rascal passed away Target started hanging around even more.

One day Chris had a talk with Target she told him he could stay, but he had to let us catch him so we could have him neutered and no more beating up on the other cats. He kept his end of the bargain, I was able to catch him and take him to be neutered. Because he was a feral cat the vets put a notch in his ear to signify he was feral.

At this point he would barley allow us to pet his head and I often was left bloody from being scratched. He was starting to come in and out of the house through the cat door. Unfortunately Louie retreated to our bedroom and this became his home. He rarely ventured outside or out of the bedroom after that. We thought that he would eventually get over it and start moving around the house and outside more but never happened. Target always respected Louie’s space and stayed out the bedroom. My buddy Louie got cancer and we had to put him down. That’s about as hard as it gets.

As time has gone on Target has become more comfortable we can rub and scratch him over his whole body, we can even pick him up for short periods of time. He won’t get in our laps but he will snuggle alongside you in chairs and even take naps.

Much to Chris dismay he has chosen me to be his human he will now stay in our bedroom and will even come up on the bed and stay next to me for short periods of time at night.

The point of this whole story is to illustrate this cat’s wiliness and desire to have a family. We don’t know his background we assume he belonged to a family at some point in his life but for whatever reason he ended up totally on his own. I have been totally blown away by his desire to have a family and the wiliness he has shown to make that happen. You can’t help route for him.

The only other cat we still have is Nina who never quite got over being feral. She still lives at the barn and won’t for the most part let you approach her during the day. She lives a very solitary life, but at dusk she will sit between the barn and the house and wait for someone (Primarily me, I’m her human) to come out so she can very cautiously approach you, eventually letting you pet her. She likes to rub on your feet and will follow in front of you often getting in your way into the tack room where she will spend the night. It makes me feel very sad for her and I feel guilty if I forget to go out there and spend a few minutes with her.   


Doug 21J


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