We are thrilled to begin a (hopefully) weekly blog with some exciting stories, spooky images, and fascinating history!
Today's post is the story of some friends of ours who have been travelling across the country to practice their art, and came across some new furry friends along the way! Black cats are often consider unlucky, but these two seem to have luck in abundance!
We'll let them tell it in their own words:
"Walker and I are artists who decided instead of paying rent for a studio we would make a mobile one. Together we renovated a fifth wheel trailer and took the show on the road across the country making and selling art. Along the way we picked up some unwanted hitch hikers. Mice. I love mice, I think they are so freaking cute but I hate the damage they create in our tiny home. We tried everything. We hemmed and hawed and thought about getting a cat, and even borrowed a family member's cat for a bit (it actually worked for a while). Almost a year in, Walker kept seeing signs for free kittens. We were in Oregon at this point. I considered adopting an old cat who wouldn't mind being in a tiny house and sleeping all day, but when we traveled, that could be way too stressful for a cat who's not used to it.
We needed a kitten.
One night while volunteering with the park service at a campground at Alsea Falls, OR, we heard squeaking outside. Walker got excited because it sounded like a cat. "Maybe it's a kitty that needs our help!" "In the middle of the woods??" I said, and we determined it was a tree in the wind. We decided we would not get a cat. Only if it was a kitten in the woods that needed our help. I said that because I knew it was very unlikely. We were really out there in the middle of nowhere, cell service and a grocery store over an hour away. A week later after finishing our camp hosting duties, we saw a little stray and very frightened black cat run past the ranger shed. I couldn't believe a stray cat had made it up into the hills this far from society. When we saw it again she ran behind the tool shed again. This time I went back there with some cheese and left it by a dumpster to see if she would eat it. She did, though I never saw her actually eating. Poor thing, she looked so thin. The campgrounds and everywhere else in OR were preparing for the solar eclipse. We were in the path of totality so all park services were gearing up for crowds. We worried about the little black cat and campers' dogs running around. The day before showtime I went back there to feed her and I saw what I thought was a little black squirrel. But it didn't move like one. I knew immediately it was a kitten. Then I saw two. They stopped to look at me with their tiny faces and blue eyes. The mama growled at me from under the dumpster.
"Hey Walker, so remember when I said we would only get a cat if it was a kitten who needed help?"
The next day we witnessed the solar eclipse in totality, one of the most powerful experiences we have ever had in our lives. Back at the camp site we seemed to be gaining the mama cat's trust. We were told that there cats who escape from cars and RVs at campgrounds it's sadly all too common. The worst part is that the mountain lions come down in the fall and take them all out before they can be rescued. I hated the idea of these tiny things staying out there, and even if they do survive, continue the cycle of feral cats. The thing that really struck us was when I realized the mama cat had been going through the camp ground and carrying back used ketchup packets and salty cracker wrappers for the kittens to lick. There was also a bit of an urgency because kittens who are not handled past 7 weeks are always a little weird once brought into a house. The nearby shelter said they don't fix feral cats and release, they euthanize them. I couldn't bear that either. I told them if I catch her and the kittens and the Mom is feral, I would pay to have her spayed and release her back into the forest to live out her days however she pleased.
Here's what we learned about catching cats. Patience pays off with consistency and food! I decided not to do a live spring trap. We were warned if a tiny kitten is close behind the mom, their legs can get caught as the mom's weight sets off the trap. We actually were able, after a few days of putting the food in a disguised carrier, to simply close the door behind her. She wasn't feral after all, as she would come out and mew timidly when we came over with food. Silently we put her in the car and then scooped up the babies who were still so small. I was pleased to see they had my absolute favorite cat mutation, polydactyl paws! We couldn't say no to these faces and after they were worked on with foster care to get them properly used to humans and spayed, we adopted both of the tiny sisters so they could stay together. The mama cat ended up being adopted before we even got to see her all cleaned up!
We named the kittens with solar eclipse themes of course. Totality, Totes for short and Umbra, or Umi for short. I was afraid they would be shy cats but they love us and love sleeping on our faces. Now we are working our way back east and the kits sleep in between us in the front and only mew when they want to be held so they can watch the world go by out the window!"
Credit to Danielle Mulcahy. Please check out their website at: www.barnyardsaintsart.com
Isn't that a wonderful story? If you feel moved by this story, and can't adopt a kitten of your own, Global Cat Day is coming up on October 16th, and our favorite charity, Alley Cat Allies (www.alleycat.org) could definitely use some donations, especially considering the recent disastrous weather on the Gulf and in California. Every year on the 16th we donate a portion of our tickets to ACA. From every ticket sold from Black Cat Tours, we set aside a quarter to donate to different feline charities throughout the year.
Until they all have a home!