Tales of homeless cats and one dog

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

During my father’s army days, he was trained in veterinary work, a fact well-known within the community. Sick, unwanted animals were frequently dropped off in our yard. Daddy would treat them and we’d have a new pet.

Because we lived next-door to the school where daddy taught, on faculty meeting days other teachers’ kids would drift over to our house. One such day, my sister Judy and I were playing outside when a teacher’s child, Sandra McConnell, came over. We’d had a dog with mange dropped off a few weeks before. Daddy had treated the poor thing back to health and we’d named him George. As Sandra came into the yard we said, “Sandra,” look at George, our new dog!” Laughing, we said to what we thought was a lazy dog, “Sic ’em George!”

To our surprise, George sprang into action, and we all ran into the house.

Taking in homeless animals, specifically cats, has become somewhat of a family tradition. My sister has two cats, husband Dan and I have three cats, but the prize for the most homeless cats adopted goes to our eldest son, Seth. He and wife Lindy have managed to accumulate five cats, all of whom live inside their home.

It all started when they adopted a scrappy former street cat named Peanut. Peanut surely needed a friend, and they adopted another homeless cat. Cats choose their own friends, and claws came out. Trying to fix the problem, the humans adopted more and more homeless cats and the Peanut Companion Project blossomed into five cats. Only two of them really get along and they’re siblings.

When one is at the Seth and Lindy house, one must be careful not to step or sit on a cat. When not sleeping, playing or engaging in battle, the cats can be found lying in a large kitchen window, gazing out longingly. Seeing this, Lindy designed and built a wire-enclosed shelf which protrudes outside of the crank-open kitchen window. It is the cats’ favorite place.

The purr-gola, complete with encased pathway from the house.

Near the kitchen window is a pergola Dan, Seth and Lindy built. It is a lovely spot, and during a recent visit, as the four of us were sitting there, watching the nearby cats in their window, Dan wondered if it was possible to enclose the pergola so the cats could enjoy that area.

Dan designed a plan and he and Seth made multiple trips to Home Depot. As they built, problems were discussed, and plans were changed. The final step was creating a safe cat pathway from the kitchen window to the pergola. After three days, the enclosed pathway was finished, and all was ready. The cautious cats weren’t sure about any of it, but a toy attached to a stick lured the bravest one out and soon the others followed. The pergola started out with the name Catio, but after a few days, the name was changed to reflect the cats’ attitudes – Purrr-gola.

Oh, the problems of formerly homeless cats. I’m sure the saga will continue with frequent updates from Seth and Lindy. In the meanwhile, we know that cats are ever interesting, busy teaching us the importance of sleep, the joy of play and demonstrating how not to get along with fellow beings.

As one of my favorite authors, Terry Patchett, says, “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods. They have not forgotten this.” Very true, Terry, very true.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell


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