I adopted a black Burmese cat one summer when my home was over run with rats. During the drought the Norwegian Roof Rat ran rampant through my neighborhood and being on the creek our home was a major attraction. Soon a nest of them were living under our house and in the attic. Exterminators were called, measures were taken, and still they were running through the house eating out of the dog dish. I was not exactly hysterical, but as a responsible mother, I packed the kids up, and headed to our second home in Tahoe where I stayed for several weeks to avoid them.
My late husband called one day to say that they were running up and down the stairs and he couldn’t sleep. I agreed to come home and resolve the matter. I talked to the neighbors and read countless articles on rat removal. I bought giant traps and covered them with peanut butter. I caught one and I killed another with a mop one morning in my kitchen. But, there were so many more. Finally, I did what any other girl who grew up on a farm would do. I got a cat.
At the pound, we looked at 100 cats. My girls of course wanted a kitten. A kitten was no match for a 10 inch roof rat. I noticed a black cat and he was looking right at me. The volunteer told me he was nine years old and wasn’t suitable for a family. But, I kept coming back to him and he looked at me as if to say, “Where have you been? It’s about time.”
He was tall, thin and frail. My late husband was unimpressed. He methodically went from corner to corner in every room in the house and then hid upstairs. The cat and the rats were roughly the same size, so he had to gather his strength. However, he acted as a deterrent and rats running up and down the stairs at night became a thing of the past. The floors were scoured and I plugged all of the exits and entry points with steal wool and foam. I took the cat to the vet and put him on a nutricious diet. As time went on the cat grew stronger. One by one the rats appeared dead at the backdoor. As did bats, birds, lizards, and anything else he could get his paws on.
I’ve always been allergic to cats. I have a hypoallergenic dog that I special ordered from Roanoke, Virginia. My allergist even discouraged this as I’m also allergic to pollen, dust and any form of dander. I sneeze at the dog park when the Golden Retrievers run past me.
The cat began sleeping with me. Right next to my pillow. For whatever reason this was not a problem. Soon, all of the rats were gone without a trace. Since the black Burmese was by now eleven, I adopted a second cat as his apprentice. Dash handles the house and the small mice, or more appropriately Dash catches the mice and he and Polly our Goldendoole play with them. These are mice that look like the mice from Beatrix Potter stories. I rescue them and toss them out the front door. I often wonder if they don’t enjoy this game because they are often back the next day.
A friend of mine told me that cats just use us. We feed and pet them and they do nothing for us. What a dismal point of view. The other morning, I woke up with Paris to my right and Siena to my left, and the cat sitting squarely in the middle of my chest clutching me with both paws purring. It was a bit overwhelming to be so loved, but I took a moment to enjoy this endearing situation because I think it possibly will never happen again. I thought to myself how else can this little animal prove his love and appreciation for me? He leaves me countless rodents, purrs at my presence, and is never not happy to see me. He curls up next to me while I write like a hot water bottle. Once, I found a gorgeous finch in my handbag. Another time, I found a beautiful sparrow on the kitchen table in the space where I used to sit. This was when I did family meals in the kitchen, now we sit in the larger formal dining room where the light is beautiful, and the rose bushes are in view.
This cat is now 18 years old I think. He certainly doesn’t look it. He still looks like a kid. My vet told me Bermese live to be twenty five. I certainly hope so.
Love and Blessing to all.