The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: stray cat

Beardslee walkingWe haven’t been getting much sleep lately, and it has nothing to do with our six month old.

No, we’ve been quite lucky that she has been sleeping, for the most part, through the night. Sometimes a need to nurse arises in the wee hours, but on the whole – she’s been great.

One of our little kitties however, has not.

It usually begins around 3:30 in the morning. Sometimes four.

Meow. Meow.

Sometimes I try to ignore it, or my arm instinctively falls out of the sheets and down the side of the bed to pet his orange fur, hoping it’s just some attention and affection he’s looking for at these early morning hours. He takes the petting, of course, for a moment or two before turning around to walk away.

Though I wouldn’t call it a success as his battle plan then takes one of several paths – one is to scratch at the bed itself, always conveniently out of our reach, making one of us get up and out of bed to stop him.

Another tactic involves jumping onto my wife’s nightstand and knocking over any myriad of objects atop – a pile of books, a stack of magazines, remote controls, or her water bottle. It used to be a glass of water. We’ve learned that lesson time and time again.

If his plan involves my side of the bed, it means any number of magazine, books, or comics thrown with his back feet across the floor beside my bed, or knocking over any notepads, paper, etc, atop. He’s tried for my alarm clock, with a fifty-fifty shot at success, or the lamp. There’s nothing quite like being awakened by a table lamp, tall, slim in the middle giving it easy tipping ability, landing on your head as you sleep.

beardslee ornamentNow I should mention, this little guy has been a part of our family longer than either of our kids. In fact, we got him right before we got married, six years ago. And in those six years, he’s found a comfortable spot or two and slept right on through the night. Perhaps a little frisky fighting with his brothers now and then, but otherwise, it’s been dreamland for him. So it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it started just before our little girl was born six months ago.

When the petting did not get us anywhere, I thought that maybe his stomach was the one in the driver’s seat. So, I’d either guide him downstairs, or pick him up and carry him downstairs, setting him down in front of his bowl, always full of food, to remind him he has food there. He starts snacking, to which I then proceed back upstairs to fall asleep, only to have him wake me up about a half hour to 45 minutes later and we start the dance again.

Thinking it was his stomach, I began putting a dish of food in our room before we go to bed. Perhaps having it closer will help and put an end to this.

It hasn’t, and all it’s done is create the expectation that this extra dish will be there.

I should note, with the age and condition of our house, the doors to rooms do not close and latch like you’d find in most homes. That means that even if you close a door, it can with great ease be pushed open by a feline head. So, that option has been ruled out.

And rather than risk him waking Meg (although he sometimes still does), the baby, or our little guy, I continue to get up when he waltzes in at that 3:30-4 a.m. point every morning, and the intervals that follow.

At one point, I woke up in our hallway. I had lured him out of the room and downstairs only to have him come up again, and I fell asleep without making it back to the room.

I just can not fathom what exactly sparked this, and still, months later have not figured out what it is he wants. Petting, hugging, holding – he’ll have none of it in those wee morning hours. Food – a few bites then back at it.

At first I thought perhaps the Daylight Saving change in the fall/winter, but that disappeared in the spring to no change. Could it have been the baby? But this behavior started before she was born? And it didn’t happen when our son was born.

We’ve often wondered if there’s something neurological underlying within him. He was a pretty bad case when we found him. Curled up in the bushes, barely able to move, he lifted one paw up and placed it on my wife as she bent down near him, and our hearts melted. We scooped him up and took him home where he wouldn’t eat, drink or anything. Getting him to a vet, he stayed there for a week before we could take him home with us.

Beardslee sleepingThe doctor said had he been on his own a few more hours before we found him, he wouldn’t have made it. He was sick, beat-up, and barely had the ability to move, or even meow. He would try, but nothing would come out.

He was estimated at the time to be about a year or a year and a half by the vet, making him about 7 years old today, though we’ve always suspected he’s either older than their estimation or just lived enough life to seem that way.

Whatever they did at the vets that week, they brought him back from death’s door, and we couldn’t be more grateful. But being that close to the end, we’ve always accepted that his return came with a series of chronic health issues as a trade off. Many an issue that we’ve dealt with short-term, some long, but we’ve handled them.

Could this be among those issues? If so, why only surface now?

I have no idea.

All I know is that I love him, but man am I exhausted and befuddled as to what it is he wants. But, though many probably think of me as crazy, I will continue…because I love him.

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IMG_0490Almost nine months ago, I poured my heart out after a frequent four-legged visitor to our backyard, whom Meg and I lovingly nicknamed “Monster” (for the extra toes that came with his Polydactyl nature) showed up again after one of his trademark absences, bloodied and injured.

Although we knew we couldn’t keep him with three feline sons of our own and one human baby running around, we got him into our basement, cleaned up the best Meg could and the next day, got him off to the Humane Society so he could get the help and care he needed. If you can’t tell from my original entry, my heart broke that day. Monster had been showing up in our yard shortly after we got our first cat, but he wouldn’t start showing love and affection until years later, following a lengthy disappearance. He really had become like our fourth cat, but was more like our equivalent of a barn cat, coming and going out of our detached garage, with me checking in on him before work each day, leaving behind food, blankets, some petting, whatever he would need to get through the times.

I figured it was time for an update on my buddy, Monster. Since that time, I have been making periodic trips to the Humane Society to check in on him, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s recognized me every time. While it’s made me sad that I couldn’t take him back with me, I learned quite a few things about him from the folks at the shelter.

IMG_1682First of all, he’s around 5-8 years old. And, his friendly demeanor, seems to be a permanent trait not just limited to me. I was frequently told as I’d visit that he became a sort of, unofficial greeter for all those entering the cat room at the shelter. He would meet them at the door, talk to them, show a little head-bunt love and show them around.

My trips continued whenever I could. I’d talk with him, pet him, tell him how glad I was that he was healthy again, and that, while I missed him terribly, this was going to lead to a nice new home for him.

I stopped by within the past few weeks for a visit, but things were different this time – he was no longer there.

I asked around and, while it took those almost nine months, our little Monster (his name changed once in the shelter, of course), has been adopted and given a home. I don’t know the details (it’s not the kind of thing they’d just release willy-nilly), but it’s a home. All those years of dodging dogs, cars and storms, looking for food or somewhere comfy to just rest are now gone. When I got home that day, I felt a twinge of sadness knowing that this now means I won’t ever see the little guy again, but it’s balanced out (or perhaps the scale is tipped quite heavily) with a feeling that my former garage-buddy can spend his remaining years being pet, keeping warm, and feeling the love of a household.

Shouldn’t they all get to feel that way?

Him getting the gift of a loving home after all that’s occurred is one of the greatest gifts I could be given.

Merry Christmas, little Monster, wherever you are, buddy. 🙂

Monster-Yeti-002

A professional photo by the shelter once he was back to health.


IMG_0490This is an open letter to a frequent friend.

It’s always hard to say goodbye, and often times the circumstances never allow us the way to say them that we truly wish.

You entered our lives very quietly, I’m sure like you came and went from so many others. It was in the grassy green of our backyard a few years ago that we first spotted you, lounging in the sun, shortly after we rescued our first feline son. We wondered where you had come from, and worried about where you were headed when you’d take off. At that time, though, you kept your distance, with good reason, I’m sure.

We lovingly nicknamed you Monster after noticing your extra toes. You were a polydactyl cat, much like those hanging around Ernest Hemingway.

As you appeared more frequently in our lives, and the temperatures turned colder, we did our best to make sure you had what you needed – whether it be a blanket, a box, or just some bits to eat, checking on you, or your quarters in our garage became part of my daily routine before work each day, especially in the cold winter, even when I knew you wanted us at bay.

There was a period when so much time had passed since we last saw you that my heart sank and we wondered ‘whatever happened to that Monster?’ In time, we realized you had moved on, perhaps finding a home somewhere to your liking.

Life went on, the seasons changed, and we welcomed two more feline buddies into our lives.

IMG_1686Then, one late summer day, there you were, after an almost year-long absence, sitting under my car. “Where had you been?” i wondered, and what brought you back.

It didn’t matter; we were just glad to know you were okay. In the months that followed, you showed us you were more than okay. You, this fiercely independent, domineering spirit, suddenly displayed affection, love, and need. I will never forget how overjoyed I became, calling Meg to the window when you walked right up and rubbed up against me, looking for some affection. After a few years of giving you your space, here you were, back, and saying you knew this place, and we, were okay. We could be your sanctuary.

And so it began. We bonded. Each morning, I’d head out to the car for work, and peek into the garage. If it was colder, or icy out, you’d often be inside, keeping warm, wrapped inside a blanket. In the warmer seasons, you’d often be behind the garage, but greet me at the door when I came outside to make sure you were fed or all right. By that time in our friendship, you were always more interested in getting pet, having some contact, than you actually were in any food.

IMG_1682Through the harsh winter, I fluffed blankets, and was glad to see you curled up in them out in our garage, and never knew if you ever got any effect from the hand warmers that I would leave buried in them for a little extra warmth.

As the weather this year began to warm and the snow thawed, you no doubt were spending your time out doing what you do best – living the life of a wandering cat. Your appearances became less, but when we did get a visit from you, you always greeted us with a rub, a meow, and a jump that so clearly said ‘please pet me, I need love,’ and we were more than happy to give it. My heart would always sink into my stomach, though, when you’d leave, and I’d worry about what would happen to such a kind soul beyond the boundaries of our yard.

This week, I returned home from work one night and stumbled in the driveway trying to find something in my phone, when, out of nowhere, you suddenly appeared. You meowed, as you often did, but you weren’t interested in food.

You were hurt.

I’d seen cuts and scrapes here and there over the course of your occasional visits, but nothing like this. Your ear down the side of your face, bloodied, you had a run-in you weren’t so easily able to shake off and you came back to a place you always felt safe.

For so long we knew that you were used to the life you had, and let you come and go, not wanting to disturb the balance of your life that seemed to make you so content.

This time, though, things were different. You needed help and we couldn’t let you just stumble off.

We scooped you up from the yard and brought you to our basement, with food and water to follow. You were so kind and accepting when Meg tried to clean your wounds with peroxide to try and help you, even for a little bit. I went to the store and got you a small disposable litter box to get you through this time until we could figure out what to do next.

IMG_0908With our three feline boys upstairs, curious of what was going on in the basement they couldn’t access, we knew, as much as we’d love to, we could not keep you ourselves. You needed help, though.

A quick phone call later and I got hold of the very kind Animal Control Officer, who said while he worked nights, he could come by in the morning. It was the only way you could get to the Humane Society, through him, and we knew you needed the help.

So you were our house guest for the night, which turned out to be a torrential downpour, with loud crackles of thunder sprinkled in for mood. We were glad you got to be away from it all and safe and dry below.

Going late into work, I waited for the animal control officer to arrive, and my heart shattered when we went into the basement together to find you. You were scared, and still wounded, blood still pouring down your head despite the previous night’s cleaning. You meowed that wonderful meow I’ve come to look forward to whenever I’d set foot in the backyard for our mutual meet and greets, but this time it had with it the sadness of a soul knowing they were in danger.

I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful response from the animal control officer, who was kind and patient both as we looked for you in the basement and getting you transported to the humane society.

As we parted ways, I held it together, but in the car, on the way to work, I could not help but break out into tears. My furry little friend, now on his way to get help, yes, but whom I would never again look out the back window and see lounging in our grass, or curled up in the garage. I knew it was selfish to think of what I would no longer experience, but it still hurt nonetheless. I felt as though we had given up one of our own boys.

Monster in GarageMeg, while just as sad, was, as always my rock, and pointed out that while I may not see you in the backyard, I no longer have to have my heart sink when you walk away to parts unknown.

The Humane Society says you’re doing well, and that some stitches will help heal your physical wounds. They also said how friendly you’ve been, calling you ‘very adoptable.’ I knew you would be and hope that, while it saddens me that our outside bonding in the yard and garage may be just a chapter in both our lives, that you will now be healthy enough to share all that love I know is in your little heart with a family that will give it back to you in return.

Farewell, my Monster. You’ve been a good friend. It may have taken us a little while to get to know each other, but in the end, we both showed the other our heart. Now, I hope that you will be able to receive all the love that you have to give to the rest of the world.

I’ll miss you, buddy.



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