Kept By Cats

1
13 Wonderpurr Black Cats
2
Remembering a Salem Witch
3
Helen, the Deaf and Blind Baby Raccoon
4
Winds of Change…Change Life for Wildlife
5
Baby Raccoons 2017 Part 2
6
Introducing the First Baby Raccoons of 2017
7
Mockingbird Mother’s Day
8
Traveling with Cat: Smells Like Punishment
9
Remembering a Hero: Nicholas Ridiculous
10
The Romancing of Noah

13 Wonderpurr Black Cats

At my house, every day is Black Cat Appreciation Day. In my lifetime I’ve been blessed to have 13 amazing black cats cross my path, and I thank God every day that I’ve been lucky to know them.

So in honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day, I want to introduce you to my Lucky 13, plus three more black cats who have touched my heart.

My first cat arrived compliments of my Grandpa Guy when I was five. Like Herman, Frosty was a white Turkish Angora. Then we adopted a stray white short hair named Seymour. Two white cats that shaped my early love of cats.

Whisper was my first black cat.

After I moved into my own apartment my sister Janice decided I needed a cat for my birthday. Um. Late December isn’t exactly kitten season, but Janice found a tiny black kitten that I named Whisper. Whisper turned out to be a very sick kitty and almost died within days after I got him, but through persistence he lived to grow into a beautiful sleek and totally destructive little brat. The true fault was mine, keeping this spunky man cat in a small apartment. After two years I came to the conclusion he would be happier in a larger home, and I found him a new family. He went on to live Happily Ever After, but not without first leaving me with a true love of black cats.

Sami showed me how clever black cats can be.

Shortly after I moved into my Florida home, a feral stray by the name of Angel gave birth to numerous litters and would always dump them in my yard to feed and get vetted, while avoiding my attempts to have her spayed. One of the litters produced a spunky little girl that I named Sami. A true tomboy with a great sense of humor, Sami came with us when we moved to Kentucky. She was an outside cat, but decided one year to spend the winter inside. Buddy my tabby always slept draped over my left arm. I recall Sami wanted to sleep there, but Bud was adamant about not moving. Instead of giving up and sleeping at the bottom of the bed, Sami crawled onto my pillow, turned around and backed her bottom down between Buddy and I, where she snuggled in happily. Read More

Remembering a Salem Witch

July 19, 1692, three hundred and twenty five years ago, my ancestor Elizabeth Howe was accused of witchcraft and hung during the Salem Witch Trials. She was 57 years old at the time, married to a blind man and the mother of six daughters.

The transcripts of the trial have held my interest for most of my life, long before my father and sister became interested in genealogy and discovered our family connection to Elizabeth Howe. When I was in school, the books I read confused me with their liberal use of Puritan phrasing, so I relied heavily on the simple captions beneath the drawings for my information. My initial interest centered on the “fact” that there were real witches who were discovered and sent to hell by hanging. I was a Dark Shadow’s fan at the time, so I was seriously into vampires and witches, and all things paranormal.

My family vacationed in New England around that time and we made Salem, Massachusetts one of our stops. Unfortunately it was during late summer when the town was thick with tourists and storms were plentiful. My dad decided to opt out of exploring the touristy side of Salem, but I have a clear memory of rolling down the car window despite the rain, and staring up at the “witch statue” as we passed the Salem Witch Museum. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the statue was of Roger Conant, Salem’s founder.

Salem Witch Trial Museum

Through the years my interest in the witch trials shifted from fascination with “real witches” to what horrors those falsely accused went through. The Puritans believed the devil was out to destroy them specifically, and their fight against him was one of individual religious responsibility. But what stood out in my mind was that most of the accusers of these men and women, were my age. Children! Children accusing adults of something horrific enough to end their lives!

A ten-year-old girl from the Perley family was Elizabeth’s main accuser, testifying that she felt pricked as if with pins when she saw Elizabeth, which caused her to have fits. The child’s parents didn’t believe their daughter at first, but records state they took her to “several doctors” all of whom said she had been was invaded by evil. There doesn’t seem to be further reference to what was wrong with the Perley girl, but clearly she was sick because over the next three years she “pined away to skin and bones”, and died.

Five more girls, ages 11, 12, 17, 19 and 21, came forward to support the Perley girl’s accusations against Elizabeth. The twelve year old, Ann Putnam, must have enjoyed the attention tremendously because her name appears over 400 times in the court documents and she is reported to have accused nineteen people of witchcraft, eleven of which she saw hung.

Ann Putnam putting on a show

Elizabeth was arrested on May 28, 1692 charged with “Sundry Acts of Witch-craft.” The warrant reads as follows:

To the Constable of Topsfield Your are in theyre Majestyes Names hereby Required to Apprehend & bring before us Elizabeth Howe the wife of James Howe if Topsfeild Husbandman on Tuesday next being the thirty first day of may about Ten of the Clock forenoone att the house: of Leut Nathaniell Ingersollsof Salem Village, Whoe stande Charged w’th Sundry Acts of Witch-craft done or Committed on the bodyes of Mary Walcott, Abigaill Williams & others of Salem Village, to theyr great hurt, in order to hir examination, Relating to the above s’d premises. & hereof you are nott to fayle. Dat’d. Salem. May. 28th. 1692/ In obedience to this warrant I have appreend [r] ed Elizabeth Howe the wife of Jems how on the 29th of may 1692 and have brought har unto the house of leftenant nathaniell engleson according too to the warrant as attested by me Ephraim Wildes constabell For the town of Topsfelld. Dated May 31st 1692.

Elizabeth was taken from her home to Boston where she was “bound with cords and irons for months, and subjected to insulting, unending examinations while prison officials and the jury assigned to her trial searched her for witch marks.” She was permitted the occasional visit from her daughters and blind husband who brought her “country butter, clean linen and comfort.”

Chaos in the courtroom

When her trial began on May 28th, chaos prevailed in the courtroom with her “afflicted” accusers throwing themselves on the ground with hysterical fits. Witness Samuel Parris wrote:

When Elizabeth Howe was brought in for examination Mercy Lewis and Mary Walcott, two of her main accusers, fell into a fit. She was accused by Mary of pinching and choking her in the month of May. Ann Putnam added her accusations to these by saying she had been hurt three times by Howe. When asked how she pled to the charges made against her, Elizabeth Howe boldly responded, “If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent of any thing of this nature”.

Only three witnesses spoke on Elizabeth’s behalf, a minister, a family friend and her father-in-law, but the performance of her accusers far outweighed their voices and she was found guilty.

Public execution was considered the most severe punishment in Puritan Massachusetts, and convicted witches Elizabeth Howe, Rebecca Nurse (her sister-in-law), Sarah Good, Sarah Wildes and Susanna Martin were hanged on July 19, 1692 and buried in a crevice on Gallows Hill.

Photograph taken at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial located next to Old Burying Point Cemetery.

But what happened to the families of these accused witches? In 1709, the daughters of Elizabeth Howe joined a petition requesting their good names be restored, and to be financially compensated for their losses during the trials. In 1711 records show approximately 598 pounds was distributed among 22 survivors.

In today’s market, that would be approximately $913 or roughly $41.50 per person.

To read more about Elizabeth Howe, this is the link to her Wikipedia page.

Helen, the Deaf and Blind Baby Raccoon

Dateline: June 29, 2011

Since 2007 my yard has been used by raccoons to raise their families. I provide water pools, dog food and peanuts, and in return they drive away poisonous snakes.

When I step outside with kibble, they gather around my feet to escort me down the slope to where my yard skirts a tree-lined creek. Throughout the summer into fall, the babies learn to trust me, and by early winter when they are old enough to be on their own, they continue to return. And, as Mother Nature intends, they bring their babies to my yard the following spring.ince 2007 my yard has been used by raccoons to raise their families. I provide water pools, dog food and peanuts, and in return they drive away poisonous snakes.

The cycle continues.

June 29, 2011 – Baby Helen and her brother Huck.

I met Helen the summer of 2011. When I approached, her siblings ran for the woods, but she did not. I soon realized she was both blind and deaf. I could slide food right under her nose, but she had no idea I was there. Her nose, however, was in perfect working order. She loved peanut butter sandwiches. I often saw her eating by the pool…alone. The size of a basketball, she would have been easy pickings for a stray dog or a fox to kill her. I had to do something.

When I called Petra at the wildlife rehabilitation center, I barely got the words ‘blind and deaf baby’ out of my mouth when she asked, “Do you have her trapped?”

Well…no. I have enough cats to know what goes into their mouths comes out their bottoms. I was not going to catch Helen until I knew I could hand her off immediately. Read More

Winds of Change…Change Life for Wildlife

On Friday June 23rd around 7:30 a.m. the storm produced by Hurricane Cindy blew through my neighborhood, bringing with it high winds and driving rain.

This is what a typical morning in my yard looked like before Cindy:

Huck in front brings the wife and kids for breakfast.

On Friday morning the above photo was business as usual, except a bit soggier. Huck and his family are a lot like mail carriers…neither wind or rain will keep them from stopping by for brekkie.

Meanwhile my Garage Band, Nikolas and Jesse, were in their lair hard at work on a new song (written by our resident songtress Dori–she says the song’s title is Buy Me A Cow).

As the storm was rolling in, I closed the door, and then went to check on Chevy who was now on a chair, hiding under the patio table. As Chevy hasn’t been with us long and is still enrolled in Social Skillz 101, he’s been given yard access, but unfortunately has to weather the weather outside. Read More

Baby Raccoons 2017 Part 2

I have a special weakness for raccoons. I’ve allowed them to enjoy my back yard for ten years, and because I provide them with fresh water and dog kibble…and peanuts for treats…they welcome me like I’m one of the family. It’s a fair trade. They keep the snakes away.

On June 5th I posted the first photos I took of this summer’s baby raccoons. You can see them by clicking here.

Over the past couple of weeks the babies have become accustomed to seeing me, and don’t run into the woods when I step outside. Yesterday I saw them hanging out in one of the trees, trying to cool off. I thought you would enjoy seeing what I saw.

Introducing the First Baby Raccoons of 2017

Sweetie Pie awaits the birth of her first litter.

Upon moving into our home I soon learned the creek behind our house has snakes. I am not a fan of snakes.

So after I read that snakes are not fans of raccoons, I threw down a Welcome Mat to the masked marauders by offering them pools for water and dog kibble and peanuts.

This started back in 2007, and we’ve had a hot and heavy relationship going ever since.

Currently my oldest is Huck, born in 2011. He is blind in one eye and I can tell his sight is failing, but he knows he can come to my porch where I have a tub of water and peanuts reserved just for him.

Lately he’s been bumping his nose against my hand as I fill his water bowl with the kibble and peanuts. At first it took me back as I don’t touch my raccoons. I’ve had babies sit on my feet, but I don’t touch. But after having a close relationship with Huck for six years, I sense it’s his way of making sure I am who he thinks I am.

Huck front and center arrives for breakfast with his family in tow.

By the way, for those of you wondering what a raccoon’s nose feels like–it’s soft and squishy!

Generations of raccoons have made my yard their gathering place for breakfast and dinner. Some were memorable, like Danny who was old and thrust aside by the young turks greedily snapping up food. I instantly won his favor by coaxing him onto the porch where I fed him special foods the others weren’t getting. He would sit next to me munching happily on peanut butter and banana sandwiches while the others ate dog kibble.

For those of you who read Finding Mya — you will recognize both Huck and Danny from the chapter where Herman is taught to survive by the raccoons by raiding the dumpster behind a food store. I used actual photos of both my boys in the book.

Anyway! Spring is here and as of this past weekend the momma’s are now bringing their babies to my yard. I spotted the first baby on Friday night.

The baby was spooked by me tossing kibble to the adults, and scampered up the nearest tree to hide.

“You can come down now.”

I suspect this little one is female. The girls usually stick close to mom, whereas the boys are often more adventurous.

Mom shows her baby the kibble. I toss cat kibble for the babies.

And on Saturday I spotted her with twins!

I suspect the baby on the far right is a boy. I saw him wandering off for an adventure while his sister stuck close to mom.

On Sunday night I spotted triplets…but none of them were willing to pose for a photo.

Stay tuned!

Finding Mya Cover

click for details

 

 

Mockingbird Mother’s Day

 My fenced yard has been chosen by a new mother mockingbird to teach her babies how to survive. That she has chosen a yard where many cats live astounds me.

The other day the baby sat on the fence waiting for direction from his mom. It was near twilight. Clearly the baby bird knew it was supposed to do something but mom wasn’t nearby. The reason: Peaches was perched at the far end of the same fence and had noticed him.

We watched with astonishment as Peaches slowly walked the top of the fence toward the baby. He didn’t fly off to safety, rather sat obediently where his mom had left him. The closer Peaches got the more we feared for the baby mockingbird.

When it became apparent the baby was going to become a trophy kill, Peaches was plucked off the fence and hustled indoors. That’s when the mother mockingbird returned.

This morning the young mother has two babies learning to survive in our yard. They hop along the fence. They fly to the neighbors roof then back to land on a fragile bush not designed to hold the weight of a bird. When the bush limb bounces, the fledgling flaps it’s wings to keep from falling. Nearby, Mom watches with patience. She has a big job ahead of her.

Her Mother’s Day won’t be rewarded with flowers or candy or jewelry or a nice card. No. Her reward will be in the survival of her babies. Their rapid maturity to understand survival.

Her reward will be raising her babies to survive so that they too will live to raise their own babies.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Traveling with Cat: Smells Like Punishment

My husband is a fan of University of Michigan football.  Ray bleeds maize and blue.

In 2012 we drove to Crawfordsville, Indiana to watch Michigan v. Purdue. Sounds nice…driving to Indiana to enjoy a Michigan game during a fabulous fall day. Of course with us…it’s not that simple.

Here’s The Bigger Story:

Two days before we left for Indiana I was at the vet with our tuxedo, Cookie. It didn’t look good. In fact, it looked like The End.

Cookie had been sick for most of that year from mold poisoning in our home, plus a zillion other allergies I had no idea he had. Despite allergy shots, clearly he wasn’t  going to be around much longer. That day he had a 103 fever and was under 8 pounds. My vet looked exhausted, and I certainly was. If Cookie had to be euthanized, Ray was prepared to leave work to be there for him.  Ray was Cookie’s most favorite human in the whole world. However, after Cookie stopped the doctor from sucking the gook out of his nose, it was determined there was still some fight left in the old boy, and he got a reprieve.

Friday afternoon we loaded our diabetic tabby, Buddy, then age 21, and Cookie, age 15, into our van. Known as the POS Van in winter, and The Steaming Pig in summertime when the livin’ ain’t easy cuz the average temperature is 99 degrees, this van (still running five years later) represents Ray’s upbringing from his father. Why junk it if it still runs? It doesn’t have much heat (only in the back) or air conditioning. At all. The driver’s window does not roll down, and the back vent windows and sliding doors work only when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars. The backseat was junked years ago (long story). So naturally this is the vehicle of choice to drive to Indiana.

Read More

Remembering a Hero: Nicholas Ridiculous

Alpha. Aggressive. Clown. Gentle Giant.

Nicholas was all of those and more.

Simmering between seventeen and twenty pounds for most of his life,  Nick never failed to cause a reaction when he met someone new, be it at home or at a new vet. Vet techs would brace to “deal” with the miniature panther, and then melt when they realized how utterly charming he was. That he knew they were there to help him feel better soon became evident.

When I first met Nick, he stunk to high heaven. It wasn’t outer body odor. It was inner. I can only imagine what he had been eating to survive. I used shampoos and powders and other means to make him less toxic to my nose, but the only remedy was good food and clean water. It took several months, but I remember the day we were at the vet and I mentioned his odor problem. The vet sniffed him and said, “Well, he smells pretty good to me.” Like he’d understood what she’d said, he’d jerked his face to me and looked into my eyes with what I can only describe as delight.

 Nick and Cookie, our Tuxedo kitty, shared an Odd Couple relationship. The same age, they were already living homeless on our property in Kentucky when we bought the house on five acres. Neurotic and nervous, Cookie soon befriended Moose and Logan, the outdoor tabbies we brought with us from Florida. Eager to please his new friends, Cookie took it upon himself to run Nick, who they did not like, out of town.

Read More

The Romancing of Noah

I knew him only a short time. Nine months tops. But he made a huge impact on me, and now I mourn his death.

Noah arrived last spring, skittish yet curious. And hungry. I am a cat magnet. They find me no matter where I am. I’ve rescued over 70 cats in my adult lifetime. Some choose to make my home their Forever Home. Some move on. Others, like Noah, break my heart.

Every morning and evening Noah waited for me along the creek behind my house. I would bring him kibble and canned food. He wasn’t tame, yet he didn’t strike me as feral either. He was assessing me, determining whether I was worthy of his attention beyond food. Turns out I was. Read More

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