Returned home yesterday from my trip to see my mother. The first thing I did when I turned on my computer was check Heartland’s pages to see if Franklin and Huggles are still among the “adoptable.” I am so thrilled to say, they both were adopted out fairly quickly to loving homes! I am not surprised but I am so relieved that I am not the only one who loves the orange babies!
My intention before driving down to California was to sleep most of the day before leaving, but as the fates would have it, so much had to be prepared beforehand, both for Mike and the cats that I might have gotten 3 hours of sleep before heading out at 1:30 a.m. I hadn’t even been able to make it to the California border when I knew I had to pull over and find a place to sleep. I found a place near an abandoned motel and parked. Quincy was with me on this trip, so I let him out to stretch his legs and do a potty break. The minute his feet hit the ground, I heard this horrible screeching noise overhead. At first, I thought it might be an owl, but the noise wasn’t right. It was one ticked off bird though and even Quincy was unnerved. He did his business but he was whining and looking all over in the dark waiting to be attacked.
I grabbed my flashlight and started following the noise, and that is when I saw her- a very anxious and irritated Perrigrine falcon sitting on her nest on top a broken street light. She was glaring at Quincy and I was afraid she was going to dive bomb him. I opened the truck and he jumped right in and the noise stopped. I looked up at her and grinned and told her she was a good mama. I told her we weren’t staying just catching a cat nap. Little did I know how prophetic those words would turn out to be!
A few hours later, I woke up. It was still dark outside and I just wanted to stretch my legs and walk a bit. I left Quincy in the truck and stepped outside. I heard the kitten before I actually saw it. A little black kitty all alone in the grasses. There were no homes around, we were up in the mountains and the motel had been long abandoned. No momma cat came to whisk the little one to safety. He/she looked so hungry. As I always carry cat food in the truck- prior to leaving, I had to figure out how to keep the food away from a nosey dog, so I tucked some dry and canned food into a small carrier and tucked it under the back seat.
Ok, you guessed it. When I drove away from that spot, I had a new kitty with us. She was so hungry (and so damn skinny) all I had to do was open a can of food and put it into the carrier. She raced in, I shut the door- captured! She was now riding in the carrier on the passenger seat. Between the back seats is an open area that Quincy would sometimes lose his balance and fall into. In order to prevent this, I put two small bags of litter in the space and covered them with a towel. All that was left was to find a litter pan.
Further down the road at a gas station, I bought a small plastic tray and kitty was set. All this time, I am just asking myself over and over- “Mary Anne what are you doing?” But I had a hitchhiker and I had to just press on. Kitty slept the majority of that night, she was so worn out. I decided to name her Hitch.
Our next stop was near a river. There was a Burger King and I was starving. It was about 9:00 a.m. by then so I picked up my food and went behind the restaurant to let Quincy out and to stretch my legs. As I got out of the truck, I saw this homeless guy headed straight for me and I groaned. Our town is full of panhandlers, and I guess I was hoping I could just relax on this trip and not have to feel guilty about not giving out money to people asking. I give them food, water whatever I can but never money.
He came up right beside me and Quincy’s head was popped out the window watching. He grinned a toothless grin and said “Are you here to watch the cats?”
I looked at him stunned and said “What did you say?” He said it again and told me that down by the bluff by the river there were dozens of feral cats and two ladies had been feeding them over ten years! He pointed out to a higher spot on the bank, and I could see about 7 homeless people watching the river intently below. I could see two women moving about the cats, pouring out cat food into cardboard boxes. The cats were jumping in the boxes and fighting for position- but they were being fed. Pans of fresh water set out on the slope could also be seen.
I left Quincy in the truck and went down the trail. Agatha, a grey-haired wonderful soul met me with a warm handshake and asked me if I was going to donate food or money for what she called “The River Cats.” I started asking rescue questions and she realized after a few minutes that I too rescue. They feed- TNR all the cats in the area and she said that so many people will come and just dump off cats that she finally had to erect a sign that read Animal Abandonment is punishable by Law and up to a $1,000.00 fine.” I asked her if it helped, and she shook her head sadly and said no, not really.
I told her about my operation and then I told her about the kitten. I said under different circumstances and cooler weather, I would just keep Hitch with me until I got home again. But I was heading into 126 degree weather and was going to be boarding Quincy in air-conditioned comfort during my visit- but the kitten would be another story. She agreed to take her. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I did give her some and turned over all the cat food and cat litter that I had and told her to keep the carrier.
Before I left, she took my arm and led me to the edge of the bluff and I looked down and could see all the cats below. It was like a moving canopy of color against a dusky cliff. She said the river was down so much that the vegetation the cats normally hid in was drying up and withering away. She said the kitten would go back to the house, be taken to the vet and then put into foster care until she could find her a home. I drove away from that spot with a different opinion of the homeless because she told me that they would panhandle for money and go and buy cat food and donate it to her!
On my drive, I could see the signs of serious drought all over. Shasta Lake looked more like a swimming pool than a recreational lake. There was only one mountain in the Shastas that had snow pack and it was just right at the top. No snow on the road melting in the mountains as normal. California, like Oregon was in serious drought conditions.
I finally reached my destination (after stopping at every other rest area on the way for Quincy). The kennels where I was going to leave him was high on top of the hills overlooking the town. She had air conditioned inside sleeping quarters and outside runs. Quince didn’t want to leave me, and I didn’t want to force him to go inside the small opening that led to the air conditioned area, so I crawled in first and before I knew it- he was wiggling in right beside me! I opened the flap leading to the outside run and was met with a blast of hot air. When he went out to check out the dogs in the other runs- I backed out and shut the door.
Filling out the paperwork, I noticed a large cage on top of the table. It was clearly custom made, big, containing a few levels. I had to laugh when two black kittens came out to say hello. Beth asked me if I wanted them and I told her no. I had enough black kittens back at my place. Feeling like I was abandoning Quincy, I drove off. I would learn later that Beth and her husband would fall in love with this dog and she asked me if she could have him when I went to pick him up to go home. She said in the 30 plus years she had been doing this- he was the best behaved and loving dog she had ever seen.
About my visit with my mom it went all right. Turns out she has mild dementia and she has been suffering from severe vertigo for many years. About twelve years ago, one of her doctors suggested she take an over-the-counter antihistamine to help level out the vertigo so she has been taking one pill daily ever since. According to the specialist I took her to see, antihistimines cause dementia! So it was decided to keep her on the same product rather than risk her falling and breaking a hip or worse. She is so depressed after losing Dad and a far cry from the mother I remember her to be. I just hope the anti-depression drugs they just put her on will kick in soon because she is living in a really nice place. No, it is not her home, but they take good care of these Independent Living Seniors and oh my heavens all you do is eat all day! I told Mother I was going to go home and go on a diet! LOL
On my first morning there, I was staying in the guest room on the second floor. I opened up the blinds to see the view and there on the roof below my window as a gold and white queen nursing six babies! I laughed and told God: “Now that’s not fair!” Two of her babies were ginger in color- and you gotta love orange kitties!
Here is my mother and me-