I can be really cold-hearted at times, especially with animals. Perhaps that's due to my farm upbringing. But the upside to that is that I fostered over 100 kittens and gave them all back to the shelter without adopting any. When I adopt a pet, I become devoted to that pet, and others have to get by on scraps ... if that.
Many, many years ago, some foul miscreant dropped a mother cat and four kittens at the pond near our house. Inevitably, in search of food, the mother brought her kittens into our neighborhood, where they were found and nurtured by Heir, Spare, and their friends.
Of the four kittens, two quickly became tame and loving. The other two stayed wild as minks and wouldn't come anywhere near us.
I dipped into my pocket at the tune of $100 (serious cash then and now) to take the two tame kittens to the no-kill shelter. You have to pay a surrender fee there.
The two wild kittens disappeared, and I thought no further about it. Until reports began to circulate from Heir and Spare that they had watched the female do the mating thing with a local tomcat. Apparently the deed took place in my back yard.
No surprise, therefore, when the female wild kitten returned with a large brood of kittens of her own. The mother cat remained wild, and her kittens were wild as well.
We had a resident cat, Alpha, who we adopted under the terms that she would be an only cat. Alpha never did play well with others. Long story short: Big ol' cat fight in the back yard, and the wild mama cat caught a nasty cut over her eye, kind of like something George Foreman got from Muhammad Ali.
Little Spare was about seven years old. If it had fur and whiskers, she loved it, unconditionally. She took a keen interest in the wretched prospects of that wild mama cat.
I told Spare, "Look. I'll round up the kittens, but I can't afford to take them to the no-kill shelter. As for the mother cat, don't feed her. Whatever you do, don't feed her. She'll just stay around, and Alpha will continue to maul her."
We trapped the kittens while they were still young and cute. My guess is that they probably got fostered at the county shelter. In the meantime, there was a strict rule: Don't feed that mother cat. Next thing we know, she'll have more babies ... and then what?
Spare fed the mama cat. Totally against my commands, she took cat kibble and laboriously tamed that wild mink of a feral female. One day I looked out in the back yard, and Spare was petting a cat that had hissed her head off at me. Then Spare picked her up. Then mama cat head-butted Spare.
Spare was, as I said, no more than seven years old.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I wasn't even mad that my daughter had disobeyed me. It was just remarkable that, being such a little kid, she had been able to tame a feral cat.
That afternoon while the girls were still at school, I went outside. The mama cat was sitting in the yard.
I said to her, "Okay, sorry about your kittens. But you can stay. You have Spare to thank, so be good to her."
The first thing the mama cat did was run laps around the yard in total joy. I've never seen anything like it. It was as if she understood what I said to her.
The second thing the mama cat did was become totally and completely devoted to The Spare. When Spare was little and thought nothing of dragging around a big cat in her vice grip arms, that cat put up with it. And when Spare got older, that cat literally followed her around like a dog.
That cat is Beta. She still lives with us. When Spare comes home, Beta sleeps with her. When Spare's not around, Beta sort of mourns for her. I'm going to say that Beta Cat is now 13 or 14 years old, arthritic, but sweet as soda pop. She likes to drink from the faucet. She waits patiently at the foot of the bed until you wake up ... and only then does she get in your face, purring and asking for breakfast.
This is the first of many charming stories I'm going to offer you about my daughter, The Spare. I'm trying to raise money for her indiegogo campaign so she can finance the comedy web series she's making for YouTube. I have some offers of goodies if you'd like to contribute to the cause. Just look at the posts below.
The link to Spare's campaign is here.
I thank you, Spare thanks you, and there's a plain jane tabby cat named Beta who will thank you as well.