Pepper the Black Cat - Katrina Survivor to Forever Home
As Told by Pepper R. Cat, Katrina Survivor
Hello world. My name is Pepper and I am a mostly black Jellicle Cat. Pepper is what the humans call me. They say it is because the hairs on my back look like they are sprinkled with pepper. I will not reveal my true name, so Pepper will have to do.
I am the newest member of the tribe here on Hummingbird Hill, but I didn't always live a good life like I have here. For a long time I had to live by my wits, on my own. It all started, once, long ago (the humans say it was in August of the year 2005) when there was a terrible and scary thing they called Hurricane Katrina.
Life Post Hurricane Katrina
During that storm, the wind blew so hard that a lot of the trees were broken and came crashing to the ground around me. The waters came up so high where I lived, that I thought I would surely loose all of my lives. After the storm, I lived with some other survivors around a house near the water. I ate what ever I could find. I slept where ever I could find shelter.
After a long time, people came back to the house and I thought that they would help me, but they said that we cats were a nusiance and they set out wire boxes with good food in them. We did not know that they were traps and went in to eat the food because we were so hungry. They put us in a truck and took us to a really scary place. We got good food to eat, but we lived in cages and we heard them talking about our days running out. We saw other animals being taken to a room and they never came back.
One day a man and a woman came to the prison to see us. They were the same ones that were at the house where the men trapped us. They said that they didn't want us to be killed, so they paid money to get me and one other back and to give us an operation. When I woke up from the operation, the people at the scary place had clipped off the tip of one of my beautiful ears.
New Home - The Barn
The man and the woman came back and took me and another of my fellow survivors to a place in the country. They let us go in a big house that they called a barn. They said that we should eat the mice and rats in the barn. The man and woman lived in a little house with wheels that they called a FEMA trailer. A dog named Sadie lived in the FEMA trailer, too, and she was nice. After I ate my food out of the can, she would help me clean my face with her big tongue. I'd rub on her to say thank you.
I didn't really like the barn. It was an okay place to get out of the rain, but the woods and the field were much more interesting. Before long, I made my way across a small stream and found paradise. There were birds everywhere and lots of other things to play with and eat. There were 2 dogs that lived in the house. They never hurt me, but the big white one with black spots would chase me. Three cats lived in the house. They hardly ever came outside, but I could see them through the windows.
Another man and woman lived there. The woman would talk to me and tell me that I should go home and to please not kill the birds. This was such a nice place that I would sometimes just sit in the sun at the base of a big tree and purr.
Pepper Cat Sunning
There were wild animals in the woods that were much bigger than me. One time, one bit and nearly caught me, but I got away. It only grazed my back so I healed up okay.
One day, when I went back to the barn, the man and woman who brought me there were gone. They would come back almost every day after that, but they didn't live in the little house on wheels anymore. The man would put a can of food down in the barn, but if I was out in the woods, many times it would be empty when I came back. So, I wouldn't get anything to eat that day. I started spending more time across the creek. There were rats and mice in the woods and grasshoppers in the garden.
A Hard Winter
I lived on my own this way for a while, checking the barn for food and then getting my own when I had to. Then there was more dark time and it got really cold. The water where I drank was hard and so cold. When I went to the barn to get food, there weren't even any empty cans there.
I was very, very hungry so I went to the special place on the other side of the creek and I sat in the sun under the box where the birds ate. The lady watched me for a little while, as I shivered in the cold and then she came out with a can of food. She put it on a round white thing near where I was sitting and went back in the house. At first I ran away, but I could smell the food so I came back out. Oh it was so good.
Every day from then on when I would sit there, she would bring me food. She was nice and I let her touch me when I ate. It finally got warmer and the lady spent time in what she called the garden. I would sit on the table and watch her and then come help her dig in the dirt. She started giving me food by the door of the house. I would see the man some, but he was gone for a long time and the lady would go somewhere in the car every day that he was not there.
Spring Brings Promise
I stopped going back to the barn because I found good places to sleep around the house where the nice lady lives. I made friends with the little fat dog and would rub on him every time he came outside. The man came home and I let him pet me. Another man came and built a nice screen room behind the house. Before they put in the door, I liked to go sit in there.
The man who brought me to the barn comes over sometimes and asks about me. The lady told him that she started feeding me when we had that really cold weather and now I come to see her every day. He said that his daughter had forgotten to feed me when they were out of town. Another time, the man said that he was going to bring her my tags and some food. I wonder what tags are?
Summer and the Living is Easier
Now that it is very warm and so wet, I live on the front porch of the house. There is a nice soft chair in the shade and another one in the sun. There are places to hide if wild animals come. The big black and white dog is now my friend. I rub on him and sit next to him when he's outside. The nice lady feeds me there, too. The other day I heard her say that, "It looks like we have another cat. Before it gets cold again, we'll have to introduce her to our three and see how she does inside."
Pepper Black Cat
I can't believe it, but I think I may have finally found my forever home. I've already met the 3 house cats, when they were in the screen room and I was outside chasing dragonflies. One of them used to live outside just like me. I think they like me. Maybe the lady will let me come in the screen room some day.
Postscript from the Lady
Hurricane Katrina had many survivors both 2-legged and 4-legged. Most of those who survived the storm are still being affected by it today. We have a saying down here in Louisiana, that Hurricane Katrina keeps coming back to bite us in the rear, again and again.
Pepper, the black cat's story is true. She has finally found her forever home with us and before it gets cold, we will acclimate her to the life of an indoor cat. She is already one of our tribe, but before Halloween, it will be official when she moves into the house with Rio, 2nd Chance, Blaze, Star Noir and Dax.
What a more fitting story for a hub than one about a little black cat, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and other perils, finding her forever home on Hummingbird Hill.
Second Postscript From MyLady - 8 Months Later
Pepper integrated into our furry family so well that it's hard to believe that she was once a feral cat. She has claimed me as hers and the other cats have come to understand that. Pepper has such a lovely personality and seems to understand speech or perhaps she's adept at interpreting my tone of voice.
She was on her own for so long, without proper food, that she has become a bit of a glutton, as you can see. She was spayed at the shelter, but she eats so much that she looks pregnant. I'm hoping that in a few more months, she'll understand that the food will always be there, and she doesn't have to gorge herself all the time.
I am so glad that Pepper found us and became part of our family. She's such a delightful little spirit.
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© 2010 Yvonne L B