Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Cat Lady, aka Mother

Mother amazes me at times. She manages to cultivate help and assistance all around herself while she lives a lonely life at home totally dependant on her children and those who she cultivates. The point will come at the end.

Over forty years ago Mother moved into her house, bought for her by her father. My three siblings grew up there, but I was older and did not. A few doors up from Mother's house is Princes Highway, Australia's Highway Number 1, now not so important as the town has been bypassed by a freeway. On the corner of Mother's street and the highway was a former petrol station that had become a pizza restaurant, a cafe, and a pinball parlour. Stray cats hung around the back of the pizza place, no doubt savouring the various varieties of salami.

The pizza place closed down and Step Father took on the starving cats. He looked after them well, without much veterinary care. He knew his stuff about animal care. While his mantra was 'Save the Environment. Plant a Greenie, head down in a hole', he loved animals and birds, just not perhaps the environment. Sister and Step Father had many a verbal battle over the environmental matters, yet they loved each other as a father and daughter. He was very kind and generous to my siblings.

So, when he became unwell and died, Mother took over the feeding of the cats, about eleven, but not with the same standard of care. She fed them expensive cat milk and top brand cat food, but that was all she did. She never actually cared for them. I remember saying to her, take on your favourite Ginge as a house cat and get rid of all the others. Ginge was killed on the road shortly afterwards. A neighbour complained about the cats and some were incompetently trapped by the local council. Ever so slowly the cat numbers were reducing from the highest point of eleven.

By December 2017 she was down to two cats, a mother who was tame for Mother, and the mother's  daughter who was not at all tame. The mother cat was looking poorly. R arrived at Mother's one day to take her out for lunch and shopping and he was confronted by a rough lad who asked if they were his cats? R replied, kind of. The bloke then went into a diatribe to R about neglecting his cats and not feeding them. It seemed the mother cat had either mange or scabies or something else. I really can't remember now. R was quite distressed about the accusation. Mother went to a veterinary surgery  and paid $45 for a medication to fix the problem. She was convinced the cat was improving. R thought not.

I suppose it was by the same accuser of R's cat neglect who started leaving tuna in bowls in Mother's driveway. I suppose the same person who accused R of cat neglect reported Mother to the Royal Society of Animal Protection Australia. The aggressive young woman from the RSPCA knocked on Mother's door and was let in. Mother explained, gesturing to all the cat food and cat milk and showing the receipt for cat medication and the RSPCA person became very nice. She advised Mother that the mother cat was very sick and needed to be euthanised. She set up a trap and overnight, the Mother cat was caught. She returned the next day and took away the cat, but asked Mother about the kitten. Mother ummed and ahhed, but eventually said yes, take it, but I don't want the worry of hearing a trap door shut in the middle of the night and a cat crying. Here is where the people who Mother cultivates comes into action. Before he went to work at 5:30am, the bloke across the road set the trap. The kitten was caught and not too much later, the RSPCA returned and collected her too.

Much praise to the RSPCA which acted so professionally and yet caringly.

At some times Mother has said, the cats are the only reason I get out of bed in the morning, but sans cats, she still seems to get out of bed. The cats have given Mother and her children untold stress over many years, and finally there are no more cats. Such a relief.

All nicely tied up? No. Mother was so incensed at being accused of animal cruelty she contacted the local newspaper, but then was not game to do an interview with the reporter.

But the couple across the road are people who Mother has cultivated and they seem devoted to her, as were the ever so kind and caring dykes who lived next door to Mother. Mother spins her silken web, and pulls them in.

Just!

This letter appeared in the local newspaper, written by the neighbour across the road who set the trap. The shelter? Well they do go under Mother's house.

29 comments:

  1. A wonderful story. Your mother obviously has a heap of charm. A family attribute?

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    1. EC, oh yes, she can turn it on. She is never nasty, just calculating.

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  2. Having reading your posts about your mother for years I was interested to see in that letter your mother described as 'frail'. Not quite the picture previously entrenched in my reader's mind.

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    1. Victor, she wasn't so happy about that but she is very frail and about 40 kg lighter than she was 15 years ago, just so thin.

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  3. A heartwarming story...and a wonderful letter...a fine, fitting tribute to a lady who obviously has a kind, kind heart. Give her a hug for me, please. :)

    Have yourself a good week, Andrew.

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    1. Lee, my family doesn't hug and rarely kiss! She is an animal lover but more inclined to dogs than cats. Thank you.

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    2. Well - regardless...I don't retract my hug offer!

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    3. Lee, I have had to learn hugging and kissing from my Tradie Brother's ex wife and her family. I wouldn't mind a hug from you at all. Hugs are nice.

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    4. Yes....and there are times we all need a hug or two.

      Consider yourself hugged, Andrew! :)

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  4. I just read in the newspaper this morning the importance of pets in helping improve emotional well being by, among other things, giving people a sense of purpose. Might not are long before she starts adopting new cats.

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    1. Ad Rad, god forbid that she does that. In her case, there was so much worry about the cats that I doubt they really helped her.

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  5. Well that's one way to get your name in the paper lol. Good on the neighbours for putting a word in for your mum !
    Yes pets of one sort or another are company for humans - might be time to get her a budgie Andrew.

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    1. Cathy, a budgie may be a good idea. Her mother had one in the latter stage of her life and she loved it and it was company too.

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  6. Well done, that Mother!
    Purrrfect letter to tell off the snoopy dolts!

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    1. Nice word play, Jayne. Someone had to do it.

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  7. Ginge and Minnie are our Moggies names. Both were strays obout nine years ago. Ginge was Minnies lover we presume being the major colour of her kittens; which we stopped and had them desexed and chipped. Ginge is still a squirter so we try to keep him outside as much as possible, howevr, Minnie was my late wife's cat and craves affection and now wherever i sit she follows looking up into my eyes. mind you most of my conversation in this house is two sentences two or three times per day from my eldest son or verbally answering Questions from quiz shows on the T V , but most of my conversation is probably with minnie, fortunately she is a great listener.
    I recall the princess highway at Kogarah NSW in 1945 a 30 foot wide gravel road. the same stretch is now a six lane freeway.

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    1. Vest, at least the quiz shows will keep your verbal skills honed. Hard to imagine Highway No 1 being gravel.

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  8. When I was in hospital a few years or so ago the English guy(aged) in the bed opposite was discussing Hospital food when my son Chris who was visiting, walked in, the old guy said " I have lost One Stone(14 LBS)in one week in this hospital'.
    Chris replied."That's nothing; Our ginger tom cat was only in the Vet's surgery half an hour on Monday and lost two stones."

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  9. Don't judge without knowing the full facts; a lesson we can all learn.

    Some of the 'genuine' mistreatment of animals I see here in France really upsets me, and no-one gives a damn.

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    1. Cro, the French are so unlike the English in many ways. Take heart. While it is very slow, around the world treatment of animals is improving, even commodity animals.

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  10. That's a lovely letter and may give many people pause to think before they accuse anyone of mistreatment without having actual proof.
    I have learned from my vet that the top, most expensive brands of food are not always the best. It depends very much on the individual cats, for instance my Lola, who has IBS needs a diet which she likes and can digest without problems. But kudos to your mother for trying to do the right thing with food and milk for so long. Does she miss the cats now they are gone?

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    1. River, this only happened last week and she is still a little upset about it. She hasn't really said she misses them. The neighbour who did the good deed received all the leftover food and milk. I thought it was quite ridiculous when she was not able to survive on her pension and buying expensive tinned cat food for strays. She is managing her money better now.

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  11. The last line, ever so true, never judge until....
    What a beautiful letter in the paper, such kindness and I certainly wouldn't like to be reported either.

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    1. Margaret, I will ensure the couple are rewarded at some point down the track.

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  12. Very nice of your step father and then your Mother to take care of the stray cats. So happy that the neighbour put the facts straight with that newspaper article.

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    1. Sami, so many in the world do wrong, but most people are not like that. Most people are kind to those in need.

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  13. It's sad that there are so many feral cats without homes. I seem to get quite a few passing through. I must admit I try not to get too attached because they could come one day and then I never see them again.. but I will say this, for a couple without pets we spend a lot of money on cat food 😀

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    1. Others would know better Grace, but I wonder if feeding strays encourages them to breed.

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