This is a story about a cat. Except I'm not quite sure he knows he is a cat. I'm thinking, that he thinks he is a dog. Of course he may just be conflicted and not identify at all. Maybe he is afraid to come out of the closet and declare "I am CAT, hear me ROAR". Perhaps he would rather say, "I am DOG, hear me bark, (Yowl)". This is his story.
Rags (at that time, unnamed, of course) showed up at my door one cold Tennessee February morning in 2003. It was early, and unusually frosty for Tennessee as I let my dogs out that morning. In the dogs' haste to do the first "potty of the day" that morning, they rushed off the deck to attend to that task. The little Chi, Whitney was the first to return. At 4 pounds, she was not much for frost hitting her tootsi, if you know what I mean. As she hurried towards the door she suddenly stopped and all hell broke loose. For those of you who don't know, a Chihuahua is a miniature pit bull (a pit trained to attack that is, Chi's need no training!). It dawned on me that there was something strange nearby. I was only hoping it was not a big snake or some other icky strange thing. I would hate to have to battle a monster I was afraid of to save my Chi's life!
I qucikly stepped out and grabbed Whitney, avoiding her teeth (yeah!) and searched for the "big" dog. Toby is a standard poodle, about 70 pounds. He is one lethal dog, unless you confront him or offer him a pet on the head. He DID stop an intruder once from breaking in, but that was because I didn't personally let them in the door. So the big galoot IS my hero, but once he saw "it", he couldn't wait to get inside either.
What was "it"?
After I had gotten the babes back inside, I dressed a little warmer (face it, morning potty runs were conducted in whatever I had worn or not worn to sleep in the night before), and ventured outside.
After scanning the deck, it all seemed OK. I glanced over to the woodpile. Nothing. Hum.... I glanced at the woodpile again and then I saw "it". Two bright green lively eyes staring back at me.
Another abandoned animal I thought. We lived on a country road. We were the first house from the main road and on a big bend that, over the course of time, seemed to us must be the "place" to ditch animals someone else no longer wanted. We had many dogs, puppies and cats show up. Sadly most of those animals were sent to the pound where they were utimitly destroyed.
Oh well, I thought. Another outdoor cat. We had a few of them.
Then the green eyes emerged to reveal an almost wild looking animal, it's colors almost feral. As the friendly green eyes approached, I began to notice other things. This animal (cat?) was covered in ticks. He was so mangled and matted I was still not sure it was a cat. There was not a place I could touch him that was not tick infested. Then, as he turned I saw with horror that he had an enormous gaping wound on his side. It was definitely some sort of animal bite, perhaps a dog, perhaps a coyote, I don't know. All I knew at the time was that it was bleeding and oozing puss. As I gingerly tried to examine it, Rags was uneasy. Not biting or scratching, but definitely worried.
Since I am not rich and also had other pets that I kept in good health, I decided the most I could do for this animal was to try and give him some shelter, food and water. I didn't think he would make it another day or two. The only vet for miles around charged a walk-in fee of $50, and that was BEFORE he would look at the animal. I knew that this animal would cost hundreds of dollars to try and save, and I didn't have it.
Despite the bumpy appearance that he presented with all of the fully engorged ticks on him, and the matted hair, this poor guy was skin and bones. I guessed him to be about 5-6 months old, even though he had the look of an experienced cat in his eye. Despite his wounds he ate well. And he kept eating. Shelter was another story. There was no way to let him in the house in his condition, and I had no outbuildings for him to stay in. What I did have was an old 13 gal. trash can which I flipped on it's side and lined with whatever rags I knew I would never want to touch again. I than placed that against the house leaving a small opening where he could crawl in. HA! I thought. That cat isn't ever going to figure that out!
Yet, before I went to bed that night I looked into the can. Two bright green eyes lovingly looked back at me.
The days passed and he did not die. In fact, it seemed he knew what was expected of him if he ever wanted to gain entry to the house. He spent days preening and grooming himself. With shelter and a full belly, he had the time. Although he still would not let me look at the wound, I could see that it was looking better.
Within a week, he didn't even look like the same cat. His coat was clean, the ticks were gone and the wound, while still missing hair was looking good.
Somehow, after lining his shelter with rags, I began to think of him as the raggedy cat. It stuck.
By March, Rags had become the king of the yard. We had other outdoor cats that always amused Toby. It was his goal to chase the cats and they had always obliged him. Not Rags! Oh, Rags would pretend to run and then half way across the yard he would stop, turn and stand on his back legs, front legs extended. Toby would stop dead in his tracks.
When I would go out, Rags was always there to greet me. He has a way of walking up to you with a slight lift of his chin, sort of like a cool "Hey". He had personality. He decided that he wanted to play with the big dogs and learned how the dogs do it. If you watch dogs in play they splay their front legs out and lift their butts. Not so cats. Most cats (unless kittens) do not play, they protect their space. Rags played and he wanted to play like a dog with all of the spins, and leg splaying and butt lifting. Again, Toby (who definitely knows he is a dog), was baffled.
Rags continued to be an outdoor cat until mid May. I never worried about him outside because I knew this cat was not going to run off, even as (at that time) an un-neutered male. He was too much in love with me, he knew he had it made, and frankly, he knew he was king of the yard!
In May we learned that we would be going back to Michigan due to a job transfer. I had to do something about Rags and I only had four weeks to do it in.
I had never grown close to the other outdoor cats. My husband fed them and as such they were attached to him. But Rags was another story. The night I learned we were going back to Michigan, I opened my back door and in strolled Rags, the luckiest cat in the world.
At first I was really worried. This cat had never lived indoors, while my other two cats had never lived outdoors. I had nice furniture and sheer curtains for Pete's sake! And, Hello? cats use a litter box inside Mr. Rags! I watched as Rags strolled through the house, somehow he seemed to know his way. As he headed for the back room with the litter box, I watched. He jumped in, did his business and came out with a satisfied look on his face. He looked smugly up at me, as if to say " and you thought I wasn't civilized", while I could only laugh.
Rags took to the house like a cat born and bred. In fact his attitude has always been and continues to be one of gratitude. My two "house" cats take every opportunity to bolt out the patio door to munch on that green grass. If I open up a door and ask Rags does he want to go out? He looks at me in horror. He's been on the outside and wants no part of it ever again.
Part of Rags transition to the house and being "eligible" for the move to Michigan hinged on him getting neutered. I spay and neuter all of my pets, but I really hesitated with Rags. Since he had such personality, I was afraid that he would "lose" that. I shouldn't have worried, he's as unsure of who he is today as he was then.
Today Rags is a really fat something. He is living the life of Riley and still unsure of his place in life. Two things are true. He adores me (and not just when HE feels like it, all I have to say is come Rags, and there he is on my lap), and he doesn't mind getting his teeth cleaned by Mr. Max and Isabella.
Enjoy the video!
Not quite a Flower child...
- April 09
- ? Nah, not really.
- Retired young, grandma to a 16 YO and 14 month old, who has always wanted to write, always had a story, but have never been able to put it to paper.
Every word is a labor of love, and I stress labor!
As I get to know the community better (I'll admit "IT", I've been somewhat of a "lurker", so I already know some of you!), this bio will expand!
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