“Mom, Gabby has escaped.”
Those were the words that awakened me from my sound, cozy, oblivious to the -1 degree temperatures outside at 2 a.m. sleep. “What? Are you sure?” Yes, he was sure…and he was, unfortunately, right.
A little back-story on Gabby…
She showed up one hot, summer day at our old home about 6 years ago, emaciated and timid, lurking in a row of trees behind our above-ground pool. My older son was the first to spot her so he named her Gabby. Now, I know the rule about not feeding strays, but I just can’t look at an innocent animal, half-starved, and not offer them a bite to eat. Not sure of her temperament, we put the food down and stayed at a bit of a distance, though we soon found out, that was how she was going to keep us anyhow.
We continued putting food out for Gabby, and she continued to keep her distance. I noticed she would follow me, however, whenever I would go into a certain area of the yard and soon found out why. I was taking care of our pet chickens one afternoon when I felt eyes on me. Amazing how we can sense that, anyhow, I looked up and saw two pairs of the most adorable blue eyes staring back at me through the bushes to my left. Gabby was a mom!
And, what a devoted mom she was! I was ever so glad I ignored the well-intentioned advice to not feed a stray, and she immediately gained my “mom” respect for taking such good care of her kittens even in her half-starved state. As time went on, I continued to feed Gabby, and her kittens, now weaned, would come out to eat as well. Only one of the three would allow me to pet her, and she quickly became my favorite. She was so pretty we named her “Pretty Kitty” and her sister, the shy, feisty one, we named “Bittie.”
Fast forward many months… my precious “Pretty” sadly died and my sweet dog, Princess, was now an accomplice to murder. Gabby was just allowing me to barely touch her, and Bittie, a.k.a. “Miss Pris” or “Fussikins” was slowly warming up. I tried to find homes for the remaining two, as I am more accustomed to dogs, but quickly found out that cats are very hard to find homes for. I got them both neutered, up on their shots, and added them to our menagerie of two dogs, seven chickens, and one rabbit, oh my.
Bittie soon showed she had no street smarts, literally, so was held captive inside for her own good.
She has adjusted quite well…
Gabby would have none of it, so has remained an outside cat to this day.
She earned the nickname “Gladiator Gabby” after we moved into our present home. We have a circular stone area below our back porch, and Gabby soon took to bringing her found objects of prey into the “ring” where she commenced to perform her gladiator show. I and my sons have rescued what we could by a quick knock on the window, and I have to admit, I have secretly cheered as well when a battered mouse or mole escaped her clutches.
Though she is now trusting of us and sweet, her love of hunting and the feeling of freedom has kept her from wanting to ever be confined to a house. Last night, however, I gave her no choice. With temperatures predicted to dip to below zero, I lured her in, untrusting that even her heat lamp could keep her warm in that cold.
I have to wonder if those in the mid-west, or northern states laugh at our reactions to these temperatures and snow. It reminds me of a Texan friend I had while attending college in Missouri, where it snowed in November and the ground remained white until April. On our first snowfall as freshman, we, that is those of us not accustomed to such snow amounts, were sure that all college classes would be cancelled. Not so. Leaving the dorm, my Texas friend fussed and fumed as we carefully picked our steps down the sidewalk to our classes. This was not until after she had called her mother, reporting the un-Godly conditions, that she, her daughter, was forced to face. I’m not sure if she thought her mother could call the college and convince them to cancel classes or if she was just so overwrought she needed to vent…either way, we were soon on our way to face the elements. Now please don’t be offended if you’re from Texas. I love the grit and spunk of Texans, but my dear friend just happened to have a strong sense of fashion, and heels, not snow-shoes (though she didn’t own a pair, thus the dilemma) were more her style.
But, back to Gabby and her 2 a.m. escape. She was put into a large, portable fenced area with a cozy blanket, food, water, litter-box, and a cloth covering to surely keep her from thoughts of escaping to wander the house. She has, in the past, “claimed” a piece of furniture in a way that neither I nor the furniture appreciated, thus the enclosure. Unfortunately, the fence was no obstacle for Gabby, and in the wee hours of the morning she was off to find another couch.
After coaxing her back into her enclosure, my son and I were quite the early-morning team of “walking” the fence to the nearest bathroom, with Gabby following along inside. Despite her howls of protests, and a few more escapes, she, and I, eventually fell back into sleep. I, dreaming of warmer days, and she, I’m sure, of future outdoor adventures.
Today I woke to -4 degree windchill, but it warmed up to a big °15 by 2:00. School is cancelled for a third day tomorrow, and I’m off to get a much needed 2nd cup of coffee. Gabby got her way and made it out today to play in the snow and has refused all invitations to come back inside, sigh. She is a gladiator afterall.
Until next time,