Animals of the Homestead-Smudge

Smudge holds a special place in my heart.  He came to us after two of my cats passed within months of each other.  (one was 21 and the other 10 but diabetic). When I felt  I was ready, I contacted my friend who does rescue.  I went over to her house to see who she had available for adoption.  No one jumped out at me or seemed to want to come home with me.  She insisted I come up to the clinic and meet one of the kittens that she currently had housed up there.  She told me he would be perfect for me, and she has this certain knack for matching people and cats, so I went for it.  My husband and I went to the clinic and met this handsome, fluffy brown tabby.  He wrapped his little paws around my neck and purred.  He was perfect and I immediately feel in love.

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Smudge is the type of cat that everyone (even people who don’t like cats) loves.  He has a huge heart for such a small creature.  He loves his animal friends.  He immediately took to Bella, whom I was hoping would take to him as I didn’t want her to be lonely after her longtime housemate passed.  In fact, Smudge is the only cat Bella loves on.  You can often find the two of them curled up together, and if it wasn’t for her I’m not sure he would venture back into the house as often as he does.  I tried to keep him an indoor cat, but when he discovered there were other cats outside he was fascinated.  He wanted to make new friends, so he became and indoor outdoor cat and immediately tried making friends with the outdoor kitties.  It took them a little while, but Smudge finally won them over.  Sadie loves all her kitties and Smudge took to her soon after his arrival.  Smudge is probably Sadie’s favorite of the kitties.  He runs to greet her, twines in between her legs and even chest bumps her.  Smudge even played with the rabbit we had for the short while he was a residence in our household.

Smudge has lovingly tolerated the love of  a baby and toddler, not once reacting in a mean way, even when the boy was being quite rough with him.  If his tolerance level had reached its peak he would run to the door and meow with a look asking to PLEASE be let outside for a break.  The Babe calls him “UM” a nickname lovingly given as he couldn’t pronounce Smudge, but he kind of stuck and I often find myself calling for “UM’ kitty with the babe.

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Smudge also likes to greet our friends and family.  He has been known to try to climb up your legs for a little attention or jump in your lap to head butt you in the chin.  He is a big love bug.  He is also a hunter.  As much as I didn’t want him to be an outside cat he has flourished.  He is an avid climber, explorer, and hunter of all small creatures.  As much as I try not to have favorites I have to admit if I did, Smudge might be at the top of the list.

Animals of the Homestead-Rocky

Rocky is one of the cats that came with our house when we moved in 6 years ago.  I’ll never forget the morning we met him.  Sadie was going nuts in the backyard when I let her out for her morning potty.  She was barking and bouncing around back and forth in front of the fence at something.  I didn’t have my glasses on so I squinted through the morning haze.  Is that a raccoon?  Is that some sort of little wild cat?  I put my glasses on and looked again.  That is one huge cat….

Having done Rescue, it is instinctual for me to start feeding the strays to try to coax them into letting me get near enough to capture them to make sure they are spayed or neutered. (I might have even been that crazy neighbor who borrowed your unaltered male cat for a few days to make sure he wasn’t spreading the love around the neighborhood). So I set out on my mission to befriend this huge cat.  I started putting food out for him and backing away and watching him eat to let him get used to me and slowly working my way closer and closer until I could Pet him.

It really didn’t take to long to win the big guy over.  His heart is through his stomach.  We named him Rocky because we had several instances of him boxing the dog, rolling the dog down the stairs and trying to attack a dog that came over for a playdate with Sadie.  Rocky is a fighter. We call him our guard kitty because if we leave the property and leave the gate open he sits but the gate guarding, waiting for us to return.  If a stray dog happens by Sadie will bounce and park hoping for a new friend and Rocky will pouf up and growl at them, daring them to come in our yard.

Rocky is also a big baby.  He loves to be loved on and sneaks in the house when it’s cold or wet.  He adores my husband and follows him around like a puppy. Whenever we are outside Rocky appears to hang out with us.  He loves to be talked to and scratched.

One of his talents is hunting.  Between him and the other outside kitties we have had all sorts of critters left around the yard…frogs, mice, rats, birds a snake… he is definitely in touch with his primal side and for weighing just shy of 20lbs he is surprisingly fast and agile.

I will always refer to him as the cat that came with the house, but if we ever move he is definitely coming with us.

Animals of the Homestead- Bella

We’ve recently had an upheaval in our animal pack as two new unexpected additions have been introduced, so I thought it was time to tell the stories of each of our critters.  Every one of the animals under our care is a rescue of sorts.  I worked in animal rescue for about 10 years before I became kind of burned out and took a break from it.  I was recently thinking about taking the plunge and delving back into it when two new cats appeared on our doorstep. . .

I’ll start with out oldest critter and tell her story and make our way through down to the youngest and more recent additions.

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The Story of Bella

I originally brought Bella home 20002ish to be a companion to my male cat at the time, Scout.  She was part of a litter of 6 kittens that was brought into the shelter I was volunteering at.  She and her littermates were found in the attic of a vacant house by a realtor.  The mother cat couldn’t be found but the realtor managed to gather up all the kittens.  I wish I had pictures of them.  They were tiny little fluffballs when they first came into the shelter.  They looked like little Chow Puppies they were so incredibly poufy.

Five of the kittens were solid black and one was a little brown tabby.  They were all so incredibly sweet.  You could place them in your lap and they would just roll around to be loved on and pet.  I’ve never since met a litter of kittens that were all so charming.  After sitting with all the kittens at an adoption event all day,  I decided that I wanted to bring one home to be a companion to Scout.  I picked  the remaining little girl and brought her home.  I named her Bella for the little black beauty that she was.

Bellas is all beauty and sweetness.  She is mild mannered and shy.  She can often be found hiding or sunbathing in a window.  She was an awesome companion to Scout until his death from his diabetes a few years ago.  They could often be found cuddling together (or him pinning her down cleaning her while she made annoyed faces.)

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Bella is the type of cat you wouldn’t know we even have.  She is a night owl and you often don’t even notice her until evening time when she comes out to cuddle with you on the couch or curl up in bed with you.  She loved her Scout and I felt horrible for her when he passed.  He was her protector,  smacking the dog around if she bothered her.   Her snuggle buddy, and slightly annoying little brother cat.  After I felt like I could have another cat I got her another buddy, Smudge, who even though a lot younger, took to Bella as Scout had, becoming her protector and cuddle buddy. (I’ll tell you his story later).  In any case.  Bella has been by far one of the best cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning, and despite being an older cat she is still a bit feisty when the newbies or the dog need to be put in their place.

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I Live with a Serial Killer (or two)

When you live on a 1/2 acre lot that is plentiful in plant life and that backs up to undisturbed wooded lots you cannot be faint of heart.  With all this glorious nature come critters.

We have critters of our own that roam among the splendor.  We have Sadie the Catahoula mix.  We obtained her from a park ranger who had found her abandoned in one of her parks.  After we had her a month I understood why someone might abandoned her.  She is a lively and energetic dog who needs lots of exercise and because of her we have made the dog park one of our favorite places.  Sadie loves her home.  She protects us, all of us, her herd and alerts us to things that are out of place.  She always keeps a watchful eye when she’s not playing.

We have Rocky, the cat that came with the house.  A massive creature that has the heart of a lion.  He is our guard cat. Whenever our gate is open and we are away he makes it his duty to hang out and guard the gate.  He is unafraid of large dogs and before they decided they could tolerate each other he would torture our poor dog.  I clearly remember one incident not long after we had brought Sadie home where Rocky pounced on her and rolled her down the porch steps because in his eyes she was an uninvited guest invading his turf.  In reality, though, he is a large baby of a cat who just wants to come in the house and sleep on big fluffy pillows (he especially likes to displace Sadie from her dog bed).

We have Smudge, a rescue from Texas Litter Control.  My friend Deana who works there knew he was the cat for me and prodded me to come meet him.  I feel in love and brought him home.  I intended for him to be an inside cat, but when he learned there were other cats outside, he was most insistent that he must be let outside to play with them.  Over time he grew to stay outside more than inside.  He is one of the most cat-like cats I have ever owned.  He climbs, chases, hides.  He is fearless and above all, he is a hunter.

The other evening as I called him to come in for bed, he just sat in the yard staring at me. He had been cleaning himself before I called for him, a grooming like that after a meal and I suspected that he may have brought me a present that he wanted me to come acknowledge before he would join us inside.  I went out into the yard to collect him.  It was dark and my eyeglasses were in the house, but even in the dim I could tell there was a dead rodent nearby.  I complimented Smudge on his prowess and brought him inside.

In the morning we got a better look at the kill, it was probably the biggest rats Smudge has ever brought home.   Life with a serial killer can be unpleasant.  What he views as gifts, I find as unpleasant pieces I have to clean up before the child lays eyes upon them.  I can no longer keep track of how many gifts we have been brought by our outside hunters, squirrels, cardinals, a mole, mice, rats, unidentifiable birds, maybe even a snake.

As much as it grosses me out to find the remains of such gifts I understand it is part of the circle of life.  It is part of life on a small homestead.  It is getting to experience nature up close and personal, even if it is not the most pleasant part of nature.  It reminds you of how nature works and when you love nature you do not get to choose to love just the beautiful parts.  You must love and appreciate all nature.