Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not a Good Way to Avoid Unnecessary Stress

I've made it pretty clear in many places that I am aiming for a stress-free pregnancy. Or, at the very least  since I can't have that, a pregnancy free of avoidable stress. This has meant taking such small measures as filtering extended family's political rants on Facebook all the way up to extreme measures of "oh, I'm sorry, I'm hormonal and you're pissing me off right now so I'll tell you how I really feel." Because, after all, every time I feel the desire to beat the crap out of someone out of anger and I do the civilized thing by not causing actual harm, it raises my stress level.

At this point I'm actually quite blessed in the fact that the only in-laws I can't stand are the ones who refuse to talk to us at this point anyway. But anyhoo...

Avoiding excess stress and anger is good. But sometimes it's just not possible.

Chris and I have been adopted by a black, tail-less kitten. Honestly, Chris is far more adopted than I am, this kitten is almost glued to him. Glued in a loving, purring, kneading, chewing, won't leave him alone kind of way. That's fair, because the other stray cat is far more attached to me.

Obviously this kitten is well-socialized, raised around humans, housebroken, etc. She also hasn't shown any real indication of wanting to go outside...

Which given that when I went outside to investigate the wailing we think I scared off a trio of coyotes that had been hunting her...

Leads me to all sorts of not-good ideas as to where she came from.

Let's see, if we add up all the evidence:
1. Underweight and eating every hour on the hour and has increased her body weight by 25% in 24 hours.
2. Had recent food when she was found (as evidenced by potty habits) but evidently not enough food to keep her at a proper weight.
3. Dehydrated, and we live on freshwater lakefront.
3. Hadn't contracted a giardia infection as of yet, which according to the vet never happens with animals that are strays for long in this area (rampant in local agricultural water and Badger was suffering from the infection when he found us).
4. Used to have a tail but the stub is healed over (but not handled by a local vet because I checked with all of those).
5. Showed palpable relief when shown a litter box.
6. Shows no interest in going outside.
7. No ads listing a lost kitten of her description, even if I just limit it to "female and black".
8. No ads for the past three months matching a litter of the right age within 50 miles.
9. Lots of ads on craigslist that start "please help I found a litter of abandoned kittens."
10. Second stray cat that has "found" us in the past 4 months.
11. Increase in animals abandoned at shelters.
12. Increase in animals just plain abandoned outside of shelters, in foreclosed homes, on the side of the road, etc.

Yeah, this is not helping with the not being stressed or angry...

Like the obviously human-raised black and grey tabby who now holds court over our top floor, I'm pretty sure this loving little kitten and formerly indoor-only cat was abandoned in "a farming area".  After all, our house rests on what used to be a farm, there's a hay field within sight, and once you get past the few "suburban" streets it's almost all small farms and ranches.

Lest the term lull you into a false sense of security, I must point out one additional piece of information; our "farming area" has active coyote and wolf packs. And bobcats. And badgers. And large raptors, including bald eagles. And an occasional black bear or mountain lion. This is why when we moved we didn't get cats.

Abandoning a cat is bad enough, abandoning a cat in an area with known predators is worse, and abandoning a defenseless kitten is worse still.

As for why we keep attracting stray cats I've narrowed it down to six important factors:
1. We almost always have a light on of some kind in the garage and in the house and there's no street lighting. This is rare on this street, most houses turn EVERYTHING off at night.
2. We almost always have at least one window open so we can usually hear what is going on outside. This is true even in winter as our fireplace is usually too effective.
3. We almost always have at least one source of sound on in the house that can be heard through an open window.
4. Our yard is one of the few fenced yards on the block. If the cat can get into the yard (as Badger did) it's relatively safe from coyotes, wolves, and angry moose (seriously, moose use the yards to either side to reach the water).
5. Said yard is patrolled by three large domestic dogs, therefore it only smells of domestic dog and the occasional rodent or small bird. The doggies also discourage the local coyotes from getting too close to the fence line.
6. Our garage/ parking area (outside the fence) has motion-activated flood lights. This also discourages the coyotes and I'm pretty sure me tripping them (intentionally) contributed to the decision to leave the property, especially as I heard distinct crashing in the underbrush to the pitch black side of the lighted area.

As for why we keep ending up with the cats we attract... we'll attribute that to situational awareness, listening to the dogs' signals, and a willingness to walk out into the darkness with a handgun.

I'm pretty sure a goodly portion of the loving behavior shown to us by both cats is a reaction to being picked up by a "safe" human and carried to food, water, and safety.

Now if only I could find the people who keep abandoning their pets here, tie them up, leave them in the darkness without food, water, or a weapon, and then let them see how it feels to be hunted by coyotes and wolves... yeah that's a fantasy I'm better off not indulging in.

The mental picture does dramatically lower my blood pressure though, so it's not all bad.