View from the Hill

Many years ago, our son Ben was visiting a friend who had a litterbox of kittens to be given away. Ben wanted a pet, so we agreed he could bring one of the kittens home with him.

Flash was a playful, spirited kitten. She would chase a string or run with lightning speed from room to room, jumping over couches like a runner in a steeplechase.

As she matured, her behavior changed. She would groan and moan, roll around on the floor and was just plain annoying. After our family had a little discussion about sex and Flash’s condition, we agreed to let her out of the house for a few nights-to take care of business–so they could get back to doing the normal things cats and kids liked to do together.

But Mom and Dad really knew what would happen. What seemed like only a few weeks later, we were up to our elbows in baby kittens. Flash had chosen a spot under Ben’s bed to give birth. She introduced the world to her three new charges, Roscoe, Oreo and Smokey.

Flash was a perfect mother from the start. She did not need to be shown what her motherly duties were. And she protected the kittens with the ferocity of a mountain lion when a stray cat came within her visual range.

Her visual range was not in distances of feet and yards. It was more like backyards and city blocks. All neighborhood felines soon learned to give her a wide berth when they passed by.

About a year later, our family moved to the farmstead where we currently live. We had decided to let Flash have one more litter of kittens. We had a whole farmstead of buildings that needed the service only a family of cats could provide: mouse extermination.

But we encountered one little problem. Around our place were three young, aggressive males searching for romance. They were not yet old enough to make the visit to the vet for the permanent fix and a rabies shot.

Roscoe was the first one to hit the road to see the world. He made it as far as a neighboring dairy farm. We brought him back home at least once, fearing he might someday be struck down by the big wheels that ran along the nearby highway.

That day came. He was the victim of a hit-and-run one summer evening.

Oreo followed Roscoe’s lead and wandered over to the dairy farm, too. I guess he and Roscoe knew a good thing when they saw milk cows from a distance, meaning, “all the milk you can drink buffet.”

Oreo, too, was returned back home, but shortly after made another hazardous journey through the pasture, near the coyote’s den and across the busy highway.

Oreo must have had a horrendous fight for his life with a viscious animal. Our neighbor found him near their yard and noticed his serious injuries. Oreo was taken to the vet for treatment and we were informed of his serious condition.

As the conversation with our neighbors continued, we decided Oreo could take up permanent residence with them if they wanted him to stay.

Today, he is the sole survivor of the original litter. Both brothers and his mother met an untimely end, a harsh fact of life in the country. Coyotes, owls and vehicle tires have proven to be the biggest mortal threat to country cats.

Over the years, our prolific cat family grew to 13 but has now shrunk to nine. Of those, three are ready to be weaned and put up for adoption to good homes who have children who love playful, 6-week-old kittens. Two are dark grey and one is lighter grey with a little bit of white on the face.

Or if anyone would like a cat family, we will also give away the mother with her kittens. She, like Flash, is one tame but dedicated momma.

Two footnotes: I recently received a letter in the mail from Oreo via our neighbors, complete with Oreo’s picture and a note of greetings to all of his relatives living on our farm.

And thanks to our recent ad in the Hillsboro Free Press, we gave away three other kittens, two of which went to a young boy and his family. He also sent us a thank-you card which he made on the computer.

It’s nice to know that people appreciate and love these animals.

More from article archives
By Extension
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY STEVE TONN With spring?s arrival, the tractor again becomes...
Read More