Morning began as it always does; I don't lie in bed much more than five minutes once I wake. I want to get up and stretch, see what the day looks like.
The cats encourage me to be out of bed--everything from plaintive 'meows' to hefty pouncing and poking.
I am escorted down the hall to the bathroom, then on to the diningroom.
The cats must be tended before the coffee is made.
The ritual includes opening the sliding door so that whoever wishes can dive out into the fenced cat yard.
The three boy cats are served their tinned food in the carport--otherwise they gobble and snatch from the older cats. Teasel keeps up an excited litany as I set dishes around the kitchen floor and open the tin.
Stepping out the back door, tin in hand, I paused at the sight of a grey and white cat crouched in the hav-a-hart trap. J. has been setting it each night lately as he thought we had another possum settling in.
"Nellie," I said, staring blearily, "How did you manage that so quickly?"
A blur of fur whisking under the truck proved to be Nellie and his brother Bobby, bristling and huffing at the trapped cat who was a Nellie look-alike, both long-haired and with the same owlish eyes.
Nellie, helping to cut out a quilt block.
The poor trapped cat threw himself against the bars of the cage, frantic. His nose was already bloodied from his previous efforts to escape.
I padded back to the bedroom where J. still peacefully slept.
It was, after all, barely 6 A.M.
I prodded his shoulder, getting no response, so tugged at his pillow.
He opened his eyes, not exactly focused.
"There's a cat in the trap." I announced, "You need to come and let it out."
I could see him trying to take this in.
'It looks like Nellie--must be his brother, probably the cat you saw near the tobacco barn last week."
J. processed this, flung back the covers.
"Why didn't you let the cat out of the trap?" he asked reasonably.
"I don't know how to operate the spring."
J. hauled on jeans, stuck his feet in his slippers.
In the carport, Bobby and Nellie had been joined by Charlie and Willis, all prancing in a suspicious ring about the trapped cat who made another desparate lunge, bashing his damaged nose yet again.
We should perhaps have thought of putting on leather gloves, trying to take him from the trap and calm him. As it was, he shot past J. the instant the door of the trap was open and barreled across the back yard toward the barns.
The likeness to Nellie-cat is so distinct that I suppose he must be related--how he missed turning up here with the other three is a mystery.
Unlike a number of the cats who have been 'dropped off' or otherwise appeared at our farm, the three boy cats were highly socialized.
Filthy, scrawny little scraps that they were, they rushed to us that first evening, purring, rubbing about our feet, reaching up to us with tiny paws. They calmly endured the indignity of baths the morning after their arrival, made it plain that they expected to move in.
If their supposed litter mate has spent nearly a year on his own, foraging, wandering, running from humans, it may be that he will never allow us to approach him.
I so wanted to gently clean his bruised nose, soothe him, offer a treat of canned food.
For now, all we can do is put out a bit more kibble each day in the barn cats' dishes.