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The Last Little Cowboy
Feeding some of the kitties...the little cowboy is not in this picture...yet.
A Tale of Hope and Rescue
THE LAST LITTLE COWBOY
At the time of this writing, we still have not saved the last little cowboy.
It began months ago, when a neighbor who, we have since learned was quite ill, passed away. She lived alone in a humble home with little landscaping but featuring a neatly kept yard. Occasionally we would see activity in the house or indications of life in small improvements to the yard. As we’d drive by on our way to and from town, we’d notice a number of contented looking cats lazing on the front porch or on the lawn near the one big tree in her yard.
As time passed, I noticed less and less activity, a lack of change in the outside environment and the shades always drawn. Her cats were still there but they looked as though they were loosing weight and their appearance was less healthy. During this time, a nasty man who lives down the alley from the lady’s home had begun trapping her cats, sending them off for immediate euthanasia, as though they were his to order such a thing. I stumbled upon the local ‘animal control’ officer with a cat in a cage and inquired as to the destination of that cat. He explained that the curmudgeonly man had caught the cat in a city loaned cage and that this was not the first cat, by far, to reach this fate. I asked if I could ‘adopt’ the cat right then and there….he allowed me to take her.
At that point, the hateful man emerged from his backyard wondering what was going on. He had heard my emphatic protestations and felt, I assume, he needed to add his “two cents” in. He complained that there were “too many cats and they were killing “his” birds.” I replied that those cats belonged to the woman who lived on the corner, just down the alley. He responded “I know they’re hers and she has too damned many cats and they ‘come into my yard.’” I informed him that he had no right to identify as his someone else’s animals, to which he answered; “that’s too bad, if they come into my yard, I have the right to dispose of them.”
With that, he went back into his yard after I’d given him an earful which he will not, soon, forget. The animal control officer told me that the ugly man had been doing this for some time and he “retains a city owned cage for this purpose.” I asked if that was not illegal, as he was, in effect, stealing his neighbor’s “property” (I must make it clear, here and now, that I DO NOT consider animals ‘property’ except in the cases in which that is the only way to save an animal’s life…by claiming a ‘taking of property.”)
I soon learned that the horrible man was not experiencing the inconvenience of an occasional “stray cat” roaming into his yard; NO!, he was enticing them with tuna in a trap. He actually drew the hungry animals into his yard wherein he captured them and called the local “authorities.” His actions were/are unconscionable, if not criminal, in my opinion.
The next day, I was having my morning coffee when there was a knock on my door. I answered it to find the animal control officer holding a cage with another cat captured by the same disgusting man. He asked if I wanted to have it. I said “yes, I’ll take her.”
After he left, I got on the phone and started my calls…to the City Commissioners, the Mayor, the local Humane Society, the Animal Control branch of local government, etc. My next step was to write a letter to several of those same entities along with a copy to the local newspaper. I wanted to expose the man for his evil deeds which were, more than likely, illegal as well as immoral and unethical.
My crusade to save the cats had begun. Over the next few days, I began to canvass the neighborhood, warning people of the man’s actions, asking if their pets were missing and advising them to keep animals, particularly cats, indoors or under watchful supervision. I wrote letters to those residents who were not available to speak with. I identified the culprit and his location.
This is when I found out that the good woman who loved her cats had passed away. It had been several months, in fact, which helped to explain why her cats were looking less and less healthy. I felt fear and trepidation for those poor, vulnerable animals and so I set forth an operation of “search and rescue.”
My friend Al and I began placing food and water on the porch of her empty home where I’d been noticing the cats for so long. Within a short time, several cats began to appear, hungrily gobbling up the food. We watched as they devoured every last bit. It was obvious these were lonely, thin, hungry felines; wondering, I imagine, what had happened to their home and their guardian.
Within a short time, we had a regular group of kitties waiting for the feeding times in the morning and afternoon. We soon found ourselves referring to the waiting felines as “customers.” “We have some customers !” we’d laugh as we neared the home where famished kitties were eagerly awaiting our arrival. There were a regular crew of kitties who were, apparently, familiar with one another and, obviously, used to dining on the porch in the past. There had been bowls there but, for many days and weeks, I had noted that they were always empty and had not been replenished.
One day, as we were about to drive away after leaving a meal on the porch, we glimpsed a new “customer.” He was smaller than the lady’s kitties, and very skinny. He ran to the porch and waited as the others ate. We decided to watch to see what happened. After the bigger cats had completed their meal, he slowly crept up to the bowls. And then backed away. I thought that, maybe, there was no more food and, sure enough, when I approached very slowly and quietly so as not to scare him away, I found that was the case. So, I refilled the bowl and walked away. He waited a few seconds and then plunged into the bowl, eating with much fervor.
As time passed, the little yellow and white male continued to show up at both feeding times. Soon, he fit right in, munching along with the others. All the kitties were looking so much better, fatter and with shiny coats. As their health improved, so did their ability to relax and enjoy themselves, preening, stretching and lazing, again, as they did when their “mom” was alive.
I could not imagine what it must have been like for these beautiful animals to have a good life and then, one day, to have no life at all. Just survival out of necessity.
One day, a “FOR SALE” signed appeared on the lawn. I thought “oh no!” What is to happen to these kitties. I had met the brother of the deceased woman He knew the cats and so I hoped that he planned on allowing us to continue to feed the kitties until he could give them a new home. It was difficult to tell if he lived in the home or was just working on it as he was absent for long periods of time, leaving the cats outside and unfed. I talked with him on several occasions but did not broach the subject of the cats’ future. When I saw the sign, I spoke with him again, learning that he was moving out of state. Being overwhelmed with so many rescued animals I purposely failed to inquire about the kitties’ fate. Not for long, though. It became apparent that he had no plans to take the kitties with him. He was just going to leave them.
Al and I decided to start capturing the cats which were the brother's, taking them to our farm in the country where dozens of rescued; formerly abandoned, abused, neglected, “thrown away,” cats live. He identified which were his or his sister’s cats and was glad that we were going to save them. He told us several of the cats' names (which made me wonder how someone could just leave a sweet companion animal and caused fear for what might happen to them!) During the next week, we were able to capture, using a Hav-A-Hart trap, all his forsaken felines. Except one….said Al; “the last little cowboy.”
But, the little cowboy was not /is not used to trusting people.. He does not belong to anyone. We talked to people who live in the area. All of them had seen him but did not claim him. He is shy, frightened and not trusting, yet. His dining partners were “owned,” they were someone’s pets at one time and, therefore, tame. The Last Little Cowboy was not.
After having relocated all the remaining cats, the scene took on a very forlorn look. There were the bowls, but there were no kitties….except the last little cowboy. Waiting in the rain, waiting in the dark, waiting in the early morning….waiting for his food…wondering where his companions had gone. But, he was and is scared.
We have tried to catch him for 3 days since the last of the others were taken away to our farm. We will continue to try until we get him and give him a “forever” home.
On our way, today, to try again. And, we are ever vigilent with a keen eye on the behavior of the dispicable, selfish man.