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Posts Tagged ‘Kitten’


Growing-up Will at play. Size-wise, the twice-orphaned kitten has some catching up to do, but he’s 100 percent healthy, at peace when purring and a most enthusiastic play pouncer.

You may recall the orphaned black kitten that barn cat Lilly mothered for a short while along with her own three babies. (Included in May 15 post on this blog.) The nurturing that Lilly gave that kitten, found mewling in a nearby ditch, probably saved its life. His name came to be Will, because of his strong will to live.

After a few days as nursemaid, Lilly moved Will to a spot in the tack room far away from the rest of the litter. One of my riding pals, Ella Mae, found Will cold to the touch and barely breathing. She worked hard that afternoon and barn owner, Teresa, through the night, keeping  the little guy warm and trying to convince him to nurse from tiny bottles of special mother-cat-like milk.

Cat caregiver, Betty, holds tiny Will, the four-ounce kitten she nursed to health after he was abandoned by his mother, then his proxy mom.

Shortly after that long, worrisome night, Will fell into the good graces of a very competent and generous cat caregiver, Betty. She was experienced with rescue and near-hopeless situations like Will’s seemed at the time: He only weighed four ounces and had to be fed by tube at first. Betty soon had Will on the mend. After several weeks under her watch, tiny Will became stronger, and his larger-than-life personality began to surface.

Will is now at home with Ella Mae’s son, Alan.  Will is still small for his age, but all health

Will at eight weeks with his new favorite person, Alan, the son of one of his rescuers.

and behavior reports are good: Will follows Alan around like a puppy might, hides under the covers and is a perfect apartment-mate, said Ella Mae.

Ya gotta love a happy ending! Especially when a kitten twice left to die well, defies the odds and, lives. Thank you Betty, Ella Mae, Teresa and Alan for serving much as godparents would to little Will.

Lilly’s own kittens are prospering in their new homes, too.  I have a little egg on my face, however. I jumped to the conclusion that the three were sisters; at least two have turned out to be brothers. Oops!

Photos by Ella Mae Hays

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Kitten caught stealing at bank

Lilly's kittens last week. Maddie, on the left, stole the show at a bank. Her sisters, Kessa, on the right, and Raffie, hiding in the middle, are new hockey fans.

The tack room was silent and still yesterday. Barn cat Lilly, recovering from spay surgery, was sound asleep atop my saddle blanket. Her three kittens, whose antics kept us amused all spring, have gone to their new homes.

Maddie, the first to depart, went to a co-worker of the barn’s owner, Teresa. She kindly took the little darling to work with her on the big day. The plan was for Maddie to retire to the bank’s restroom and nap. Quite precocious, and a bit of a prima donna, Maddie quickly undid that plan.

As I hear it, Maddie instead spent most of her time atop the counter in the bank where the women work. Confident in her black-and-white cuddly cuteness, Maddie happily greeted the clientele. I’m betting every customer — even those wishing for larger account balances — left smiling: Maddie made them with her show-stealing manners.

Maddie’s two siblings are acclimating to their new digs on my friend Stacy’s farm. Stacy and her husband, Russell, have a Mastiff named Stella and a miniature pinscher (looks like a tiny version of a Doberman pinscher), named Max. At this juncture, little Max acts as though the kittens don’t warrant much of his attention. Large, but ever-shy, Stella is treading, well, cautiously.

These sister kittens are sure to hold their own: When playing at wrestling, the kittens throw each other to the mat in unrestrained smack downs. And now they have strong and symbolic hockey-related names. Russell is a loyal fan of the Vancouver hockey team, the Canucks. Since the kittens arrived on the day of a National Hockey League play-off game, Canuck roster  names seemed only appropriate. Kessa is named for center Ryan Kesler, and Raffie for left wing Raffi Torres. Go Girls and Go Canucks!

THE ANIMAL LESSON THIS WEEK relates to a 12-step slogan that Maddie and her sibs illustrate: “Have a good day — unless, of course, you’ve made other plans.”

Table and trough talk in brief.

Clever horse opening latch commonly used on stall doors. Photo source 123people.com

Horse unlatches stall and takes midnight walk down dark road. While breakfasting on roadside grass, horse is caught by good Samaritans. Owners, searching for AWOL mare, are located. They lead her the few uphill miles to home. (Bet they scolded her under their breath with each step.) Thankfully, no noisy logging trucks lumbered past on the narrow road. All ended well — with the stall door now latched and chained to prevent additional equine mischief-making.


The tale reminded me of my own horse’s great escape on a mid-winter night. As Teresa made her way to the barns for morning chores, the fog was so dense, she could barely see the toes of boots. Nearing the back barn, Teresa thought something moved. She strained to see through the fog: There in the barn doorway stood my horse, Callie, dozing.  I imagine it was similar to those movie  scenes where someone walks out of the mist after waking from a dream or arriving from another world. Callie’s stall door has a safety chain now as well. If these mares get any smarter, we may have to convert to deadbolt locks!

YouTube has plenty of videos of horses caught in the act of unlatching. Here’s one posted by sjristhedude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIQdFzN-XgQ&feature=related.

Red Angus bull. Photo source ansi-okstate.edu

The Boys in the Hood, our nickname for the red Angus bulls that spent a lonely bachelor winter in a down valley pasture, are blissful: The gate to the lush pasture full of red cows and calves stands open again.

All around, the rural landscape resembles a Christmastime map: stretches of green punctuated by red dots: The bulls’ this-year offspring calf-napping in the tall grass.

The Angus breed originated in Scotland. When four black Angus bulls were imported to America in 1873, the shorthorn and longhorn breeds were the norm. U.S. cattlemen referred to the bulls as freaks, because they were polled, or hornless. In time the black-colored Angus gained favor; however the red version, derived from a recessive gene, was frowned on. The red Angus did not attain breed status in the states until 1954.

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The three-year-old red colt, Animal Kingdom, a 20-1 long shot, won the 2011 Kentucky Derby today by 2.75 lengths. Photo by Pat Lang Photography.

THE FINISH LINE ON DERBY DAY

And the winner is: Animal Kingdom, by 2.75 lengths. Beth Harris of the Huffington Post, one of the first to report the win, described it as “a win by a broken nose.”  Animal Kingdom’s regular jockey, Robby Albarado, was sidelined with a broken nose, the result of a horse’s kick. Rider John Velazquez was left without a horse when his mount, Uncle Mo, was scratched from the race because of illness. So the riderless  Animal Kingdom and the horseless Velasquez were united – and won. The odds were long, 20-1.

I was thinking about running red horses just this morning at the barn. When I turned out my mare, Callie, she ran like the wind, snorting and flagging her tail. She was going at a speed faster than usual for her, and she made a perfect moving picture. As her red dunn body flashed by, I thought of the late Secretariat, the famous race horse whose nickname was Red.  A timely thought, I mused, since today was the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, which Secretariat won in 1973. When he was a foal, “experts” said he was too pretty to be a race horse.

In America, the first Saturday in May is always Derby Day at Churchill Downs racetrack in the state of Kentucky. Thoroughbred horses thundering around the 1.25-mile course are said to be making a Run for the Roses, because a garland of roses is placed around the neck of the winning horse. It is considered the most exciting two minutes in sports.

The Kentucky Derby is the first in a series of three pivotal races together known as the Triple Crown. It’s a rare year when one horse wins all three. Since 1948, only three horses have done so:  Secretariat in 1973; Seattle Slew in 1977; and Affirmed in 1978. Before that, the Triple Crown was generally won every few years or so. We’re currently in the second longest stretch, 27 years, without a Triple Crown winner.

Perhaps Animal Kingdom will change that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that a horse with a name like that can and does! He’s red, too: The winning color in my book.

CONSIDERING MOTHER’S DAY

As an adoptive mom, I  believe women who create families this way are kindred spirits no matter where they live, what they do, or who they are; or in this case, what they are. Lilly, the barn cat with the three cute-as-a-button kittens is now mother to another!

Pat, a neighbor to the barn where I keep my horse, found an abandoned kitten in a ditch and rescued it this week. Black, and not much bigger than a person’s thumb, the little guy was screaming for nourishment and warmth.

Three little kittens lost their mittens. No, wait: That‘s a nursery rhyme! These three little kittens have a new little brother and seem quite smitten. These are barn cat Lilly’s kittens at three weeks: They’re a few weeks older now. This week, a kitten so new it’s eyes were still shut, was found in a nearby ditch. Lilly took it right in and is nurturing the baby as if it were her own. The three original kittens act as if it’s been there all along. No family drama here, just business as usual. Photo by Ella Mae Hays.

Having heard about Lilly’s babies, Pat mentioned the orphan to Teresa, owner of the barn (and Lilly).  They decided to see if Lilly would accept a substantially smaller – and male – kitten into her lair. I wish I’d been witness to the introduction. Apparently Lilly didn’t even blink, just started licking and nursing the little guy right away.

Another woman who stables her horse at the barn hadn’t yet heard about the foundling kitten. Imagine her surprise when she peeked in at Lilly and family and saw a fourth: I hear she said something to Lilly about “a half-baked bun in the oven.”

After just a few days with his new family, the baby, tummy full of mother-Lilly milk, is calm, quiet and struggling to stay near, yet stay clear, of the big sisters tumbling about. The original kitten threesome is approaching five weeks in age. They are experimenting with play-attacking  and somersaulting each other all over the place.They’ll be swinging from stirrups and hiding in riding boots soon.

The big sisters deserve credit, too. I guess their girl genes/instincts kick in automatically. They were instantly protective of their wee sibling. The one I call Blackie (on the left in the above photo) actually assumed the arched-back, hair-raised, mean-cat stance and hissed at me in her tiny voice when I unintentionally startled the baby. I was shocked and awed that something so tiny could appear so big and be so brave.

Lilly yawns, then stretches, seeming to say, “Yes, they are ALL mine, and aren’t they all just too cute for words.” Good girl

I was thinking about how easy and routine this all seemed to Lilly, and discovered  THIS WEEK’S ANIMAL LESSON: FIRST THINGS FIRST. What’s more first on the list of first things than ensuring the safety and welfare of offspring, no matter the species?

It being Mother’s Day tomorrow, I’d like to share this very special poem with cat-mom Lilly, plus animal lovers and adoptive moms everywhere. It’s given me much solace over the years. I wish I knew who penned it.

“Not flesh of my flesh,

Not bone of my bone

But still, miraculously, my own.

Never forget

For a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart but in it.”

And thanks to my son, Adam, for making me Mom. I love you.

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