Mascots, or Why I Should Not Be Permitted to Roam Unattended

Sharon April 17th, 2009

I don’t mind the ferret, I do like the bee

All witches familiars’ are friendly to me

I’d share my last crust with a pigeon-toed rat

and some of my closest relations are cats

 - Nancy Willard _Pish, Posh, said Hieronymus Bosch

 So the other day, we visited a local animal shelter to meet a dog we thought might be a good match for our family.  The dog turned out to not to be what we need, but we started in chatting with the shelter workers about the financial situation and the state of animals in general.  While Eric and I were chatting, the three younger boys were looking at the new kittens, and I was absently petting a grey and white older cat, hearing about the number of dogs and cats being abandoned.

The shelter employees are wonderful, animal loving people who ummm…know suckers when they see them.  So out came the adorable long haired kittens, and each boy got to hold one.  Out came the sad story of the kitten’s abandonment, and of the reduced number of people coming to adopt.  Out came the children’s big eyes, promises to be angelic and the word “please” transformed into a six syllable song.  And well, we had planned on a kitten, eventually…to keep company with our two year old cat, who is a little bored by our two older cats now in their teens. 

Eric’s job in these situations is to say no to things, and he tried, although there was a visible lack of firmness.  My job as mother, of course, is to support my husband, but there’s a problem – I’m cat people, and well…I’m a sucker.  My husband found himself without a backup singer.

The shelter worker and I had been chatting about cats, and we’d both found ourselves agreeing that our own favorite cats were big, older cats, the kind with lots of personality and a sense of humor.  That’s when the woman spotted a superb opportunity.  It turns out that “Prince Albert,” the grey and white cat I’d happened to be petting was an older guy, who loves attention.  Oh, and they can’t keep him much longer – he’s been kind of a shelter mascot, but they are experiencing increased pressure to transition either to homes or euthanizing.  At 9 years old, Prince Albert wasn’t nearly as attractive to most people as the kittens – if she waived the adoption fee, and gave us a “twoforone” on the cat, wouldn’t we want to take him home? 

Eric rolled his eyes.  I said no, but it lacked conviction.  The shelter worker ignored me and scooped the cat up and put him in my arms, confiding that he was a personal favorite, she’d take him home, except she’s already got 6…  And of course, I didn’t want to see him euthanized.   The cat was placed in Eric’s arms, and my husband (who is actually at least as big a sucker as I am) was losing resistance fast.  And now I was making puppy eyes and stretching out “please” as long as I could.  The outcome was no big surprise.

In the car, we decided that “Prince Albert” would be renamed “Culpepper” (since cats don’t care about their names, mostly), and would be the official mascot of the new seedling and herb business I’m starting on the farm.  After all, that justifies everything – everyone needs a mascot, ideally one for each insane new venture.  Zucchini, our two year old cat is already the official mascot of the vegetable garden, while Minnie, our 15 year old grande dame is the official sponsor and mascot of naps, long novels and sitting around on your butt not doing anything (our household’s favorite sporting event).  So we’ve got a theme going.

In a fit of completely fake pique, Eric decided hte kitten would be named “Dayenu” – which means “It is enough.”    It is his hope that this will max out our cat ownership for a while, and it probably will – I have no real desire to hit “crazy cat lady” status until I’m at least in my forties ;-) .  And this is a real danger – I’ve written more about our dogs recently, but my husband and I both have long histories with cats, and if it is possible, are even bigger cat devotees than dog.  The very first act of my adult life, when living independently, was to get a pair of cats, and I simply can’t imagine living without them – a terrible fate that I’m clearly in no danger whatsoever of facing.

I sometimes wonder whether all my work on food and farming isn’t really just a complicated way of getting to play in the dirt and with animals all day long, the way I wanted to do when I was eight.  This is a lowering reflection, but probably true – and it is definitely true that the eight year old in me is awfully close to the surface sometimes. Ah well.

Sharon

38 Responses to “Mascots, or Why I Should Not Be Permitted to Roam Unattended”

  1. Greenpaon 17 Apr 2009 at 4:42 pm

    lol! Hilarious! :-)

  2. jennon 17 Apr 2009 at 5:12 pm

    YAY! New Kitties! Pictures, please!!!!

  3. Shambaon 17 Apr 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve had a hard day facing two m ajor demons in my life which actually came out very successfully and I’ve rewarded myself with a bottle of my favorite beer. –I hardnly every drink but I’m home and had two bottles of my favorite beer! this accountws for my weepiness at the moment … ( and I’m sarfely at home and about to head over to my bedroom and sleep, I’m certainly not going anywhere!)

    Bless you, bless you bless you Sharon and your wonderful family for their ability to take in another cat. I personally am a cat lover and have a lot of karma with cats.
    I feel so for the idea of animals abandoned and hurt in any circumstances and this economic situation just makes it so much worse. Maybe some souls/people are supposed to feel for children or old people or homeless families but I feel for animals of any kind that hurt …..

    anyway, this is a great post and thanks for taking the kitty. You have done a great mitvah by doing this … but you do this every day by writing what you do.

    Okay, I’m going to lay down now ….

    cheers to all and I’ll be fine tomorrow,

    Shamba

  4. Frogdanceron 17 Apr 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I’m a dog person, but one of my sons was desperate for a kitten. A couple of Christmases ago I snuck out to the animal shelter and spent a good half hour making a sensible, practical choice about which kitten I’d buy him. As I was filling out the paperwork they brought another litter of kittens in. One peered at me from under the arm of the person carrying them and I fell in love.
    We have had Daphne and Maris ever since. (We’re big ‘Frasier’ fans.)
    So take comfort. You’re not the only one!

  5. Ailsa Ekon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Well, of course you took him home!

    Hmm… I’m in my 40s. I guess I need more cats. And your new old boy would be the second youngest cat in my house.

    P.S. Adam has great sympathy for Eric. (They’re both doomed!)

  6. CatHerderon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:16 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! And kudos to you for having such a big heart. I work for a vet and do animal rescue, and yes, its terrible out there….my husband keeps telling my boss to frisk me before i come home (he can see those tails hanging out under my scrubs)….We have taken in so many abandoned animals since the new year…i myself really cant take anymore financially (and i get a break $$$ at work)…its so sad….some people say i cant save them all…im just trying..one at a time ….good luck to you and your new additions!

  7. deepianon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:29 pm

    “the eight year old in me is awfully close to the surface sometimes”

    what a wonderful way to be :)

  8. ChristyACBon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Congrats on the new kitties and bravo for taking Culpeper! I try to take on older animals also because they deserve better than death in a strange place after giving their youth to a family. Getting turned in at your first gray hair is pretty raunchy to me.

    But now, with the economy, it is just so bad and so sad.

    I still have 2 cats, down from 4. I got them all near the same time 14 and 15 years ago and lost one recently to cancer and one to alzheimers very recently. A third is in the fighting stages of cancer now too. It is quite hard to lose them after all those years and I’m happy to know that new homes and new lives are going along apace out there.

  9. anitaon 17 Apr 2009 at 7:47 pm

    “I sometimes wonder whether all my work on food and farming isn’t really just a complicated way of getting to play in the dirt and with animals all day long, the way I wanted to do when I was eight.”

    On some level (closer to surface in some of us than in others), isn’t it that way with everyone?

    Good for you, taking both the young and old—older cats are very rewarding, I think. They give so much more than they ask for. We have eleven, ranging in age from five to fourteen. (We lost one last year to a stroke, and another the year before to kidney failure.) All strays or pass-alongs.

    I’m nearly 60, so I suppose I qualify as a crazy cat lady; fortunately, John loves them as much as I do.

  10. Karenon 17 Apr 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I envy you. I am a TOTAL cat person and my husband and 2 sons are allergic. I am hoping at some point, we can have maybe one low allergy cat in the house and lots in the barn (which we don’t have yet either!)
    Karen

  11. Teartayeon 17 Apr 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Wait, you can be a crazy cat lady earlier than your 80’s?

    Why was I not told this. I’m sorely lacking in the cats! (Craziness and lady-ness are taken care of already)

    Yay kitties!

  12. Janeton 17 Apr 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Hi, Good for you, I came out of lurkdom to say I’m a sucker for cats too. I just found out about an amazing cat rescue ranch in Florida called Caboodle Ranch. You can see it at http://www.caboodleranch.com. I’m in awe of this place.

  13. Colleenon 17 Apr 2009 at 11:36 pm

    P.S. We got our Black Mouth Cur as a puppy from a local shelter. We only learned of her breed years later. Our neighbor is a bear hunter and was saddened to learn she was spayed.

    Sharon, I seem to remember you mentioning a rat problem in your barn.

    Last summer, our compost bin got infested with rats. Once she was permitted by us to do so, our Black Mouth caught & killed four rats in a matter of a day or two. She was happy to have a new job to do and added patroling the compost bin to every trip out the back door.

    Best – Colleen

  14. Brad K.on 18 Apr 2009 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for the tale of cats and mascots!

    Blessed be, to you and yours, and the four-foots too. For the new ones – welcome home.

  15. knutty knitteron 18 Apr 2009 at 5:35 am

    I’ve had cats since I was 9 – mostly strays of some sort. Our present pair are 12 and 14 and asleep on the bed! We always have cats and I’m just as allergic to them now as I was at 9. Bottom line I love them and as long as I remember not to touch my eyes after handling them I’m fine. Mostly.

    I always attributed my sneezing to hayfever :)

    viv in nz

  16. Kellion 18 Apr 2009 at 6:49 am

    I think that is one of the sweetest things about animals – they bring out the child in us. Our little dog, Rudy, is our hospitality house mascot. Some homeless folks who feel alienated and uncomfortable around a lot of people warm right up to him. When I walk him in the morning, more people call out to him by name than to me!

  17. meaon 18 Apr 2009 at 10:20 am

    Ha, the moment the cat was in Eric’s arms, the poor man was doomed. We always take the elder statesmen sort of cats, though our little one (at 17 lbs) is about 4 — she set up camp on the porch and despite the fact we were NOT going to have another cat…well $300 later, we were hers.

    Congratulations…and a bet the kitten is not going to be the last of it.

  18. Besson 18 Apr 2009 at 10:44 am

    Why am I not at all surprised… your kitty count was getting a bit low.

    We’re down to 1 now… we had been thinking one would just show up and adopt us — they have a way of doing that — but your point about the increased need at shelters is a good one. I think we might do tat soon instead.

  19. suburbanlifeon 18 Apr 2009 at 11:16 am

    I am a long-time lurker, read you every morning without fail and admire your committment to a way of life consistent with your beliefs.
    Culpepper is a wonderful name for a senior cat. I bet he made himself an instant resident, for cats know when they have it good, thank you very much. Life without plenty of co-residing animal companions lacks a certain something. And a farm just has to have plenty of patrolling felines. They have an important place in farm life. Enjoy life with your increased menagerie. G

  20. kestrelon 18 Apr 2009 at 11:18 am

    Being a cat vet, I’m ALL in favor of people adopting more cats, lol. Five cats on a farm is okay. Twenty-five in one home in the city is not – I’ve had a few of THOSE sorts of clients.

  21. Susan in NJon 18 Apr 2009 at 3:15 pm

    With two bad cat allergies here, I don’t think we’re in danger of ever reaching the town’s max # of cats per household (6). But I almost adopted a dog while visiting a guitar festival last month . . . sadly it was out of my state and they would only let locals adopt because to adopt the loveable mutt they required a home visit (given that we had longstanding business relationship with the sponsor etc. this one really tweaked me) and because the dog was “too” adoptable. Poor dog went back to the shelter that night.

  22. Erikaon 18 Apr 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I think it just might be “better” to be the “crazy old (or not so old) cat lady” than the “crazy old (or not so old) lady,” or even the “crazy old (or not so old) lady with the pack of dogs.” Besides that, cats don’t take up nearly as much space or food (or time) as dogs, I mean, really, would you rather have 6 cats or 6 dogs? Cats bury their waste, dogs laugh while you pick theirs up, cat food is measured in spoonfulls and scoops; dog food is measured in cups and gallons (cut off part of a milk carton to make a “gallon” scoop!); cats can and do hunt and eat their catch, dogs… well, some eat their catch, but tennis balls aren’t that nutritious, nor sustainable…

    Enough of my rambling! Welcome home to your new kitties!

    –Erika (honestly, I’m a dog person… but that’s only if you make me pick one or the other!)

  23. Linnon 19 Apr 2009 at 6:59 am

    Gee, my two cats (5 and 15 yrs) KNOW their names and respond to them consistently. However, I imagine Culpepper will learn his new one.
    I, too, took in many cats over the years and at one point had 5. Alas, as age and common sense prevail I am asking the Great Spirit of the Universe to kindly spare me from finding another, or others, whom I really could not keep (yet would).
    Great sadness at the abandonment of these loving, gracious creatures who give their all to humanity and then get left homeless. Both dogs and cats, and ferrets and pet rats, etc. May those who can, be generous in rescues–as you are, Sharon and Eric.

  24. Loison 19 Apr 2009 at 7:15 am

    Sharon, you have done another mitzvah. Dayenu, how appropriate to have adopted him at the end of Pesach! :)

    On 4/11, our 2nd oldest cat, Joey, passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes me glad to know 2 kittehs got a new, earthly home around the same time.

    Did you know they make an action figure called “Crazy Cat Lady”? My kids bought her for me.

    Very good likeness, only my bathrobe isn’t brown!

  25. Chileon 19 Apr 2009 at 7:52 am

    I wish I could laugh at your weakness when faced with sad animal eyes, but I’m just as bad. For the last five years of our previous dog’s life, I swore she was the last dog we’d ever have. I loved her and she was a good dog, but I was tired of the extra work and clean-up required with pet ownership. I was tired of pet fur on everything, including dinner. I was tired of having to take her on vacations or make special arrangements any time we wanted to go out of town. No more, I said.

    Two days after she was gone, we had Angel.

  26. Linda Son 19 Apr 2009 at 8:34 am

    Sharon, this is changing the subject — my brother-in-law, a recently retired minister, is coming to visit. He and my sister are in a position of considering ‘what next’ in their lives and I was trying to find a way to gently suggest that ‘what next’ might take into consideration peak oil, climate change, etc. I was reading through your archives looking for inspiration, and I came across your blog on the Theory of Anyway. Perfect!! This is a man with a large heart and a well-developed conscience. . . thanks for a beautiful post with ‘doing the right thing’ at its core!

  27. Kation 19 Apr 2009 at 2:27 pm

    LOL Sending your kitties some “Alaskan snuggles.” I’d give my right arm for a cat, but the hubby is nasty-allergic. *sigh* My daughter’s always bugging me to take her to visit the animals at the shelter, but I wind up sobbing every time I go, because I cannot stomach the thought that so many of these lovely animals are being put to sleep. (And we DO have two “pound puppies” of our own, one that was adopted as a pup, because we thought she was the type we were looking for, the other adopted as an adult, after 3 other owners gave up on him. They’re both lovies and reasonably well behaved.)

    Best of luck in your search for a new CANINE addition to your home, now that you’ve got two new feline additions.

  28. sealanderon 19 Apr 2009 at 3:18 pm

    This is why my husband doesn’t let me near pet stores unsupervised ;)
    But I don’t have to go that far to find a cat – my latest adoptee moved into the backyard, and since he seemed to be a good mouser, I’ve taken him in. Quickly turned from a mangy wounded stray to a fluffy affectionate companion. Totally obsessed with mice, but not the least bit interested in my young chicks.

    I would think that the true test of whether your life is a success would be if you could show it to yourself aged 8 years old and they’d approve :)

  29. Larryon 19 Apr 2009 at 4:51 pm

    We didn’t have to go to a shelter, as “Iz” showed up on our driveway a few months ago. Those cats will have a great home at your place.

  30. Rebeccaon 19 Apr 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I clean one of the local rescue group’s shelter twice a week, so I know first hand just how bad it is out there. We’ve adopted out one cat and one dog in the past month. I’m not kidding. We’re doing our best but most people just are not adopting animals right now, even in areas that aren’t hit that hard. If anyone is reading this who has a few extra dollars to spare, consider giving it to one of the local rescue groups. They’re all hurting.

    Thanks for adopting a rescue, Sharon, and for getting an older cat. You might try Petfinder to help you find the new dog. It’s a really great site and you can search by breed, sex, age, etc. I even saw some goats on there that were up for adoption near me last week.

  31. Rebeccaon 19 Apr 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Oh, my rescued animals (three cats, two dogs, and a foster dog that doesn’t seem in a hurry to go anywhere) all send congratulations to your new kitties on finding a good home. :)

  32. Magnuson 19 Apr 2009 at 10:12 pm

    God Bless You.

    A-freaking-men!

    More cats make the world a more perfect place. Life without cats is not life. It’s merely existence & waiting.

  33. Oleon 20 Apr 2009 at 1:52 am

    Very good story and interesting too. Just it would have improved the whole scenario if you has added some pics

  34. rdheatheron 20 Apr 2009 at 8:54 am

    What fun-new cats! And one a kitten-that’s always a hoot!

    My latest crazy cat lady-ness is taking in(via my mother) a tom. He’s very, very sweet and came with a nasty abscess. And a two week wait for a neutering appointment at the vets. But finally this is his week! Yeah!

  35. Annetteon 20 Apr 2009 at 12:04 pm

    congrats on your new additions! =) I have always owned at least one cat and just last year finally owned another dog – it’s been 20 years since my last ownership.
    Love them both terribly – just like my kids. Thankfully my children do not lick me in the face when it is time to get up!

  36. deweyon 21 Apr 2009 at 10:36 am

    Congratulations! Yes, it’s a mitzvah to save an abandoned older pet from death – and also you have a better idea of what their personalities will be like. My love-muffin kitteh was rescued after someone abandoned her in a rural area. She learned pretty quickly to come when called, when rewarded with treats, and has picked up a couple more commands (er, respectful requests) with little reward but praise and love. And she helped us catch a mouse a few months ago, too. I’m sure glad she did not wind up in a shelter getting the needle just for the crime of not being a super-cute 8-week-old kitten anymore!

  37. NMon 21 Apr 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Lol. Yeah, I’m not allowed near adoptable animals without adult supervision, either! Not that that helps. We lost one of our beloved cats to cancer two years ago, and after grieving for a year, agreed we could get a new kitten. And did. And that was IT! We were full up. Two dogs, two cats, all rescue cases, everyone had a companion, and was happy, and we had all we could handle. Then last September, I went out to my local u-pick farm for some tomatoes, peppers, etc., and there was a sad little dog wandering about that, it turned out, had shown up that morning, never seen before. So I offered to take him to Dog Control, which offer was gratefully received, and I did. Only, surprise, they were closed, it being late Saturday afternoon. So I took him home. What else was there to do?
    And after he finished yelling at me, and after we unsuccessfully canvassed the houses in the area of the farm, to see if anyone had ever seen him before, (and gave him two flea baths! — yrgh), DH said, “Fine, he can stay One Week, while I’m home on vacation to supervise everyone, and we look for his family, and that’s It. Then he goes!”
    “Ok,” I said meekly. “I’ll find a home for him. Don’t worry.”
    So I found some people who were interested in looking at him to see if they wanted him.
    “What are you doing?! Why are you rushing things like this?!” my husband said.
    Ha.
    Of course we kept him (the dog, that is). And now we have five animals. And that’s IT! The inn is full!
    Really. I can’t handle any more. But damn, it’s hard knowing how many more are in need.
    Love your cat tale.

  38. Robinon 22 Apr 2009 at 10:30 am

    Oh my! If insane projects are the guideline for feline ownership I’m down a few dozen cats. Let’s see – the Scooter litter of pups, the Rufus litter of pups, the goats, horse rescue, hogs, meat rabbits – I’m stopping now while I have only two cats.

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