Monday, April 23, 2012

Motor Mouth and Mister McCoy

Okay, the story of the stray cat and our big white dog is going to fade from my memory if I don't tell it soon, so here goes.

We don't usually have stray cats here. When Finegan was our livestock guardian dog, they didn't last long. He hated cats. Our neighbors across the arboretum fence have many stray cats dropped by their house. Some of them would wander onto our property. Finegan nailed them. I felt terrible about the murders and grew tired of burying cats. One day I confessed to the neighbor man what was happening and apologized. He looked at me and said, "The next time I see your dog on the other side of the fence I'm going to start throwing cats across. We have too damn many cats!"

Finegan grew old and his trainee, Shirley Puppy, was not and is not a cat killer. She just chases them off our property. A few years after Finegan died, we gave Shirley a trainee, Mister McCoy. Mister McCoy hates cats. And birds. And anything else he can chase. But to my knowledge he has yet to catch anything. Nonetheless, stray cats steer clear of our property and the big white, very fast and furious dog. All except Motor Mouth.

Motor Mouth is the name I gave the very small, scrawny gray cat who appeared, yowling, a month or so ago and discovered she could get into the milk room and the dogs could not. She came in when I milked the goats and yowled. She was so thin that I took pity on her and gave her the milk strippings (the first milk from the udder that I don't save for people use). However, her yowling set Mister McCoy into a frenzy. Unable to get to the cat, he attacked the walls of the barn, the goats, the birds, and anything and everything else. The goats grew terrified of his explosions.

The goats didn't like the cat either. Her loud yowling scared them and they would not come into the milk room. So every morning and night I had to put the cat in a kennel crate in an outer pen while I milked. When I finished milking and feeding, I turned the cat loose and gave her milk. She yowled the whole time she was in the crate. Mister McCoy went berserk the whole time she yowled, so I had to lock him away from the goats. (On the left I captured a rare moment when Motor Mouth was not yowling. On the right she was in her normal mode: loud.)

I hoped the cat would quiet down and the dog and goats would get used to her but neither happened. A neighbor said she would take her but I knew Motor Mouth would just come right back to the milk room. Happily a distant friend wanted another barn kitty. She likes to keep at least five barn cats to keep mice and rats away. So I gratefully took Motor Mouth to Carol's place. All seemed to go well at first. Miss Kitty, as Carol dubbed her, was happy to have real cat food instead of milk and a little dog food now and then. Carol's other cats didn't bother her.

McCoy, however, kept looking for the cat and terrifying the goats in the process. One day, a few days after Motor Mouth had gone, McCoy quit eating and became very lethargic. The big white dog was sick and I didn't know why. The thought of taking this 150 pound dog to the vet was enough to make me wait until the next morning and hope he cured himself. The last time I took him, the vet had to examine McCoy in the car because I couldn't get him back out of the car after I drove to the vet's office.

The following morning, I saw some strange floating objects in Mister McCoy's water. They looked like pieces of wood that McCoy had chewed off the barn to me but Johnny thought they were plastered together elk hairs. I don't know what they were but they came out of Mister McCoy and he started getting better right then.

That was two weeks ago. McCoy is behaving a bit more rationally these days. The goats are still leery of him but he's no longer charging after imaginary cats on an hourly basis.

Carol reported today on Motor Mouth: "Every thing was going smoothly until the calico in the barn had her kittens and now she chases Miss Kitty all over the barn, which riles the dogs and scatters the other cats. It is very wild and disruptive, but if I feed her on the other side of the barn from the kittens, things go smoother and that seems to be our new layout. I like a calm barn."

So do I, Carol, so do I.

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