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by Al Norris


Spot was given to us by some friends who had rented a house that the owner said they could not have pets. Spot is a snow white cat except for a one inch black patch on her left ear and her tail, which is mostly black, hence "Spot." None of us knew at the time that Spot was pregnant.

In our bedroom we used to have a set of shelves that held our clothes (we live in an old farmhouse with no closets). When Spot decided it was time, she jumped up on the dresser and then onto the third highest shelf...about six feet off the ground...curled some clothes around her and had 4 kittens.

We didn't find Spot and her litter till late that night (we both work evenings). So we gently moved her and her kittens and some towels down to the floor underneath the shelves. We arranged some boxes around her to shield her from the other cats. She seemed to have settled in real well, so we left her alone and went to bed.

The next morning, Spot, in her wisdom, had moved the kittens back up to that high shelf. We tried this 3 more times in as many days and each time that we turned our backs on her...Spot would move her kids right back up to that shelf.

We had resigned ourselves to the chosen nursery, but Mother Nature, vis a vis Spot, wasn't done with us! Spot has a bad habit of mashing down everything around her. Add to this that she wasn't real careful with her kids...

Over the ensuing days, we found the kittens either smothered by Spot or rolled off the shelf to the floor. Even though the room is carpeted, a five foot drop is a long way. The last kitten was found on the floor by Kathy. Since this poor little thing was still alive, Kathy began to nurse her by hand. Spot, by this time, had decided that motherhood just wasn't worth the effort.

After two more weeks, we knew that the little girl was going to make it. She was a tough little fart and had clung to life against all odds. And of course, the name "stuck" to her.

At this point in time, we were owned by Stripes, PB (short for pretty boy or purr box...take your pick), Tails, Spot, Simba and now Tuffy.

As she grew older (it was winter now, and all our other cats were inside for the duration) she decided that Simba was her playmate. Once in a while, Simba would get a little over enthused (?) with Tuffy and if PB were anywhere around, he would cuff Simba upside his head. I've never seen a male so protective of kittens, but PB must think they all belong to him! Times like these and we tend to call him "Dad."

When spring finally came around, Tuffy was a fine specimen of kitty hood. Kathy and I were out in the garden one day watching her nose around all the new smells. We stopped to watch her watching the squirrels. We both thought, that Tuffy was gonna make a wonderful climber, should she learn to stay away from them playful nut eaters.

Well, it wasn't too long and we caught Tuffy climbing our 70ft black walnut tree, having fun chasing them squirrels. Much to our surprise, she would run along the branches and jump from one to the next, all the while her determination was to catch them pesky little critters! As surprised as we were to see Tuffy jumping the branches, just like her quarry, was when she tired and decided to come down. Without any hesitation, she ran down the main trunk just exactly like the squirrels she was chasing!! She's the only cat I know that can run up and down a tree, head's when she does this in our pine trees that it becomes a mess, with pitch sticking to her fur. sigh.

Up until that spring, Stripes was the bird catcher of our group. Tuffy must have been a good student, because she learned not only to catch robins, but canaries and even a humming bird or two...and Kathy hates that! What has become worse is when the butterflies are out and Tuffy catches them, to the detriment of some of Kathy's flowers!

Tuffy also lives for when Kathy goes out to weed one of her gardens. Tuffy will sit about five feet from her, just waiting for Kathy to uproot a clump of weeds and toss them. That's when she leaps into action and bats the weed out of the air, picks it up and gives it a good shake...just to make sure it's dead, I suppose. Sometimes she will even bring a clump back for Kathy to throw again, if Kathy is taking too long (in Tuffys' mind) to toss another clump.

Last fall, we started finding some dead squirrels laying about the yard. Do I need to tell you who was the culprit? This summer, we have had a substantially less squirrel population than in years past.

Apparently, Tuffy has been showing her buddy Simba how to catch birds. I know she has tried to get Simba to hunt squirrels, but Simba just looks at her up in that tall tree and yawns. You have to understand that Simba is the least coordinated of our cats...can't hardly walk a fence!

But now Tuffy has two new playmates, Whiskers and Shadow. This was their first summer, I can hardly wait for winter to come and go, just to see what Tuffy decides to teach them, next summer.


Editor's note:

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