Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Cat Club - the Loaf Cat speaks

LT called the Friday night meeting of the Cat Club to order.  Pretty much all of the members were in attendance tonight which was good, as Rudy had alerted LT of a an issue that she wanted to bring up for discussion.  Greymalkin, as secretary reviewed what they’d discussed last week.  A recovering businesscat, she was working on just letting the leaves lie where they fell, and so just did a quick summary in what was for her a very casual manner.  Bee patrols, bear watch, Loaf Cat and Halloween – that was pretty much what had been on last week’s agenda. 

LT reported that the snow last weekend had pretty much taken care of the bee problem.  They’d probably holed up for the winter.  Ladybug proposed that since no bear sightings had been reported for months that they consider they bear problem to be resolved and could they please not discuss it anymore.  Everyone heartily agreed with that.  Halloween had been quiet.  Peep had stayed close to home in case anyone had decided they needed a black cat for some nefarious purpose.  Only Greymalkin’s house had any trick-or-treaters, and even then there were only a few.  She’d patrolled her little street to make sure that none of the children were bullied, and was happy to report that the human children had been mannerly.  Regarding Loaf Cat, he was still aloof and uncommunicative.  He took most of his meals at Peep, LT and Rudy’s house and was looking a little better, although he could still stand a good grooming. 

LT cleared his throat authoritatively when the discussion threatened to devolve into a debate on the best way to groom ears.  Everyone looked at him, because like E.F. Hutton, when LT talked, people (or cats) listened.  “Rudy has a situation that she’d like to bring to the membership for discussion and suggestions.  This issue was brought to her by one of our friends, and although it does not directly concern cats, I hope that you will all give it your full attention.  Rudy, will you explain the problem?”

Rudy loved being the center of attention, although she generally preferred it to be about her, as opposed to her talking about someone else, but hey, attention was attention.  “Okay kitties, here’s the story.  The Mommy has a friend named Val who lives up in Millstone and her house backs on a farm.  She has a cat named Kid who has made friends with a turkey named Lemuel….”  Rudy went on to explain the situation in great detail, finishing with Emma’s appeal for ideas on what might be going on with Bart and the eggs.  “Emma thinks that my internet research skills will probably provide the most valuable information, but she did want us to ask all the cats we knew if they were familiar with turkey breeding and if so, what information they could provide.”

Predictably, Fuzzy had the first and most caustic comment.  “Turkeys are stupid, but delicious.  Turkey eggs are doubly delicious, as they’re bigger than chicken eggs.  I hope Bart’s making lots of omelets and planning to have all his friends and relatives over for a massive Thanksgiving dinner.”

Snoogums spoke up for his household.  “Our human doesn’t keep any sort of livestock, and she’s not the type to watch television shows about farming.  Daytime soaps, yes, farming shows, no.  She also likes to watch cooking shows, and I could describe some delicious recipes for turkey, but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.”

A thought occurred to Ladybug.  “There was that house with the geese – Peep, you remember, don’t you?  They ended up over here and you had to herd them home?  After that I used to go over there sometimes and listen to them when I needed a laugh.  They are soooo silly.  I don’t recall any of them laying any eggs though, and there are never any little goslings.  You could ask them, but I don’t think you’d get much useful information.”

Peep shook her head.  “If I never have to talk to those geese again I’ll die happy.  They were the silliest animals I have ever had to listen to.  If they don’t lay eggs, it’s probably because they don’t have the sense that the Great Cat gave worms.” 

Greymalkin raised her paw to be recognized.  “My human’s daughter lived on a farm once where they raised chickens, and they always let the hens brood the chicks.  They were very careful to make sure that there were enough chicks to replace any adult hens that were taken by wild animals or, well, slaughtered for the table.  If the farmer isn’t leaving the turkey hens any eggs, I wonder if he’s just slowly discontinuing his turkey farming operation.” 

That brought the conversation to a halt.  It wasn’t that the cats particularly liked turkeys, other than as tasty leftovers, but the turkey in question was a friend of a friend.  They’d all lost friends of various species, and they felt bad for Kid.  No one knew what to say and for a few moments they all just looked at the grass or trees, not meeting anyone else’s eyes.

“There is another possibility, you know.”  Every head turned towards the deck, as the voice seemed to be coming from underneath it.  It was dark, just days after Halloween, and the tails of all nine cats stood out like bottle brushes. 

As they stared at the darkness underneath the deck, a scruffy tiger cat emerged.  “The farmer may have decided that natural brooding was not providing him with the number of poults that he wanted, so he could be using an commercial techniques such as an incubator that automatically regulates the temperature and alerts him when the eggs need to be rotated.  Then when the eggs hatch they go into a brooder, which provides consistent temperature and a safe environment.  Some of the best brooders are round, so that the poults can’t all pile into the corner, causing some to suffocate. There is a lot of debate as to whether natural brooding is superior to incubators and commercial brooders.  Poults raised with their mothers integrate more rapidly into the flock, but there is a higher mortality rate, as some are stepped on or manage to get too far from the heat source to keep the body temperature required at that stage of their life.” 

LT was the first to recover his voice.  “Loaf Cat?  We didn’t even know you knew how to talk, and here you turn out to be a turkey expert.  Thank you for that information.  I think this is exactly what Kid  wants to know.  Welcome to the Cat Club – we’ve been hoping you’d join us.” 

The Loaf Cat looked sheepish.  “Yeah, well, I’m not a real social cat.  I was hand-raised by the farmer’s little girl after my mother and siblings were taken by a fox, and I never got the hang of making friends.  I never even saw any other cats except on television before I ended up here. Katie was the best, most loving human mommy a kitten could ever have, and I spent almost all my time with her for years.  Her father raised lots of turkeys, and that’s pretty much all he ever talked about, so I know a lot about turkeys.”

Bunny walked over to where Loaf Cat was sitting and sat near him – not too close, as she didn’t want to scare him.  “It sounds like you and Katie loved each other a lot.  How did you end up here?”

If cats could cry, Loaf Cat would have been crying buckets of tears.  “When Katie went to college, the farmer grabbed me, tossed me in the back of his pick-up truck and drove for what seemed like hours.  He finally stopped the truck on this street and chased me out of the truck bed.  His parting words were, ‘Now I can finally get rid of you, you mangy tom.  I won’t have to worry about you taking my poults any more.  Good riddance.’  He got back in his truck and drove away.”  Loaf Cat hung his head, “I figured no one wanted me.”

All the cats walked slowly over to Loaf Cat.  Bunny snuggled up next to him and said, “We want you.  We’ve cared about you and worried about you since you came here.  And you know the humans like you.  They put food out for you every day, and Peep’s Daddy and the yarn lady talk to you.  They’d love to be your friends, as would all of us.”

Rudy, who was feeling a bit ignored, since the Loaf Cat’s information probably was as good or better than anything she’d find on the internet, spoke up.  “What is your name, anyway?”

“I don’t have one.  Katie was deaf and didn’t talk.  We communicated just by snuggling and playing.  The farmer called me names that weren’t names, and I’m not going to repeat them in polite company.  Loaf Cat is the first name I’ve ever had.  And it’s funny, because I bet if Katie had named me after I’d grown up she might have called me that.  Sometimes she’d put me in the big bread pan she used for baking and smile and smile.  I think she thought I looked like a loaf of bread too.”

Peep touched noses with Loaf Cat.  “So, unless you want a different name, I christen you ‘Loaf Cat’, and grant you membership in the Cat Club.  Now, can I groom your ears?  You are such a handsome cat, but you could use a good grooming.” 

“Uh, I guess so.  Katie used to brush me every day until my coat would shine.”  Loaf Cat sighed.  “I miss that, and I miss Katie.  I wonder what the farmer told her when she came home from school and I wasn’t there.  He probably told her I ran away.  I hope she didn’t worry about me for too long.” 

Peep’s mouth was full of fur, so she couldn’t answer, and none of the others could think of a reassuring thing to say.  LT hastily adjourned the meeting, and the cats settled in to a social evening, getting to know their new friend. 


Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lamb - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lambj/5841108032

1 comment:

Victor Tabbycat said...

That is so cute! Nina (the loaf cat in the photo) is pleased to visit your blog. :-)