Monday, October 3, 2022

C. Stroup – Best Little Cat House in Texas

I’d agree with you if you believe this past winter in Tejas was severe.  But since everything is relative, it wasn’t so bad.  Growing up in St. Louis and then spending a few years in New Joysey taught me just how cold and outrageous Mother Nature can be.  She’s totally unpredictable…  This is my segue to all nature…

Our neighbor down the street, when we lived in MO, did a strange thing with her old Schnauzer upon its death.  Belva put the dog in her garage freezer for several weeks after the poor pooch died.  The ground outside was totally frozen and covered by 6 inches of frozen snow.  The forecast boded more of the same.  So when FeeFee or whatever the dog’s name was had a heart attack or whatever sent it to a better place, there was no way to bury it.  Old FeeFee was flash frozen.  I was appalled at the time with this solution to Belva’s dilemma.  How bizarre, to freeze a dead animal?  Really?!!

I must admit that Belva was always an interesting person as to the way she approached all things.  This was the lady that wrapped her Christmas gifts in old comic strip newspaper leftovers.  So for her to freeze her most precious dead dog didn’t come as a surprise.  And the spring burial ceremony was quite touching.

Recently we adopted two cats.  I’ll get to their status in next month’s article.  For now here’s a short recap of our experience with former cats.  I can promise this won’t lead to a catnap on your end.

When my son was very young his only relationship with animals revolved around our dog.  Abby (who he called BahBah) who was a mature Golden Retriever and surrogate child until Brad arrived on the scene.  She had the patience of a saint, especially having been the only child for seven years.  Then, OMG…here came the whirlwind into all our lives!

Several days before Brad started kindergarten, he innocently placed the neighbor’s cat over the fence across the street.  He loved the kitty that lived next door and she frequently came over to visit.  Missy, the guard dog whose backyard was invaded, promptly made short work of the neighbor’s cat.  Brad witnessed the terribly unfortunate event and came home crying his eyes out.  Through the sobs he managed to tell me that Missy had killed Tigger.  Missy did have a reputation of not being a very congenial hostess, but I’d like to think that Brad didn’t have Missy’s ill manners on his mind when he put his pal over the fence.

Tigger’s owners were out of town and I hardly thought it appropriate to try to contact them with details of their cat’s misfortune.  My neighbors would probably be back in a few days but it was late August in Texas and hot.  Uncertain as to whether or not they’d want us to bury their cat without their okay there seemed we had only one alternative.  So we retrieved Tigger from Missy’s backyard and wrapped her in a sheet, then plastic and placed her in our freezer in the garage.  While this sounds insane, it was what Belva would have done and that’s that.

It was horrifying to explain to the folks about what had happened to their pet.  Idiotically, we sent Brad over to tell Mrs. Jones about Tigger.  She was livid and told the five-year old how evil he was for his bad deed.  My husband and I were right behind our kid and heard her hurtful words.  Then we had to tell her Tigger was in our freezer…it was soooo bad.  Mrs. Jones insisted we get our child into see a psychiatrist, ASAP.  Devastated and confused we did as she suggested.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Jones contacted the principal of the kids’ school to advise that our son had killed their pet.  Therefore, if Mrs. J’s kids acted out against our son at school they surely had a good reason.

Also, Mrs. Jones explained to her son and daughter about the death of their pet on the way home from the airport.  She had arrived back in town before her children and after fetching them a day or so later chose just the perfect setting to unload the horrific news.  She stopped at Grapevine Lake as the sun set to say, “Tigger will no longer be around.  Brad has seen to that.”

Her children were crushed; I’m sure, to learn of this ghastly state of affairs.  But some affairs are even worse than others.  That following Monday, the big first day for the kids to ride to school on the big orange bus…well, Mrs. Jones two youngin’s and the eleven-year old boy across the street and the little girl on the other side of us were all invited to ride to school in Mrs. Jones’ car.  No room for Brad Boy.  So he and I stood there alone and waited for the big orange bus.

After some months of counseling, for Brad, Mom and Dad, the diagnosis was:  “He’s precocious, intelligent, and extremely mischievous.  He’ll grow out of some of this and in the meantime, Ritalin won’t help.  Don’t worry about it.  Here’s my business card in case your neighbor wants to talk to me.”

Those were comforting words but not so much as the lady up the street who said, “Cindy, relax.  Brad was playing like Tom and Jerry when he put the cat over the fence.  In the cartoons Tom never harms the mouse.  Jerry always gets away unscathed.”  But no matter how soothing that analogy, a little voice in the back of my mind was always whispering, “Charles Manson was somebody’s son!”  Then a chill would run up my spine.

Mrs. Jones and I managed to retract our claws and became neighbors again.  We took a quick trip to Krum, TX where we bought a few ducks for our pond.  There was a gorgeous kitty on that farm which Mrs. Jones desired.  The cat loved her, too.  So we brought Tigger II home also.  Bad luck was looming in our future…especially the cat’s.

When a person came to look at the car we had for sale, well, when that person backed out of our driveway, Tigger II was under the car.  Ken found the poor thing dead on the driveway.  We sequestered Brad in his bedroom while trying to figure out how to tell Mrs. Jones we’d unintentionally done in another of her cats.  With knees quivering and our hearts in our throats, we knocked on her door.  Ken had covered the cat with a cloth and left it at the end of our driveway.  We’d explained to Brad what had happened and he was relieved beyond belief to not be accused.  The look on his face was heart wrenching.  He loved Tigger II, too.

Please don’t contact me if your cat goes missing.  It’s not in my freezer.  And while Brad used to have a catastrophic effect on felines when he was young…he’s grown into quite a pussycat lover in his own right!  Besides there’s much more to this story and has a Cheshire catty ending!  Stay tuned!


Originally published in the March 2010 edition of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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