Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kid. Billy the Kid.

I have explained to you how Kid, the cat, came to live with us.  He was a tiny little thing, but he was mighty.  If you missed that story, you can get the update here:

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

What I haven't explained is how he got his name.

This little guy lived in the hay barn.  He played with the chicks.  He lounged in the hay or up in the rafters in the barn.  He ate.  He ate a lot.  He not only ate a lot, he ate loudly.  I mean - smacked his food.  I have always fed Fancy Feast cat food, not because we are trying to be fancy, but because it is in a small can.  I want all of that food to be eaten at one time.  No leftovers. 

There are starving kitties in this world. 

No, that is not why.  But, I don't want to be feeding anything other than kitties. 

Therefore, "Clean your plate please?"  He has always obliged this request.

We had this guy hanging around for a couple of months, and we were kicking around some names.  Now you have to know that all of the dogs in our world are named after Walt Disney characters.  We did not anticipate that this kitty would make it to the level of family the dogs had reached, but none the same, we wanted to stick with tradition.

My faithful helper, the full-timer, was put in charge of this task.  She is the ultimate cat lover.  Always has been and always will be.  In the beginning she kept trying out the name Oliver from the movie Oliver & Company.  I don't really remember this movie, but she informed me that Oliver was a very sweet kitty and she was liking the way it sounded. 

I had no reason to disagree.

At this point, we still had not been able to touch this guy.  He would come out in the open when you had food, but he was still very leery of people.  You could dump the food and back away and he would eat in front of you, but if you made the slightest attempt to reach for him, he was out of there.  Usually hiding behind some hay, waiting for you to leave so he could finish feasting on the flavor of the day. 

Now once we hit Summer, we noticed that "Oliver" had a flea issue.  A very bad flea issue.  He was scratching and itching and biting so much that he had sores on his tail and belly.  Well, this is not acceptable at CrossRoad Farm.  Animals are taken care of very well here, and if there is something that I can do to make their lives better, I will do it.  Besides, what kind of a "Mouser" would he grow up to be if the only thing he could focus on was the little critters eating him alive.  Not to mention that he could become anemic or be infested with tapeworms.

It was a bad situation.

First, I devised a plan.  My plan was to trap him in the live trap while he was eating.  Then, I didn't really have a plan, but I knew I had to start by getting my hands on him.  For a week solid, I would set the trap with a can of Fancy Feast inside.  I would return to find "Oliver" sleeping on top of the trap.  The can would be empty and the trap would have been triggered by his weight jumping on top of it.  He was usually looking very pleased with himself, and I was getting very annoyed.

I kept at this plan, but we also tried other things. We tried to just catch him.  We chased him.  We cornered him.  All to no avail.  I was afraid that if we kept at it, he would just leave and we wouldn't see him again.  To say the least, things were beginning to heat up.  I was getting hot under the collar for having wasted all of my time, he was still being attacked by the fleas, and it was getting down right hot outside.  If I remember correctly, this was in July or August in Texas. 

Need I say more? 

I had had enough of this game.  One day I set the trap with the cat food inside, then I sat down with my back turned to the trap.  I had a four foot stick in my hand that I had placed on the lever that would drop the door down once he was inside eating.  I waited.  I waited until he just couldn't take it anymore.  He didn't like me being there, but he loved his Fancy Feast too much to let it go to waste.  He went in and he started eating, and then he started smacking, and that was when I knew I had him.  With one little push on the lever, the door slammed down and he was mine. 

Now, he freaked out!  He was not pleased.  He started howling, and then he did something that I did not anticipate.  He ran head first into the end of the trap and the trap did not give.  I was sure that if he kept that up he would break his neck.  Well, I was so excited that I ran for the house.  I am sure that no one could understand what I was saying for the first few minutes that I hit the door, but they finally started getting the picture. 

We had to come up with the second part of our plan - quick!

We had very little time due to the fact that he was going to injure himself if he stayed in there too much longer, so it all went something like this...

My full-timer, and my part-timer where both here - Thank you, Lord!  We all put on our heavy winter barn coats - Carharts.  These things are heavy duty.  They both put on heavy winter gloves - the insulated leather kind.  I put on my welding gloves.  They are so thick that you really can't bend your fingers and they go to my elbows.  My full-timer grabbed the flea stuff, and we headed out.

The plan was to take the trap into the chicken coop and close the door.  Once inside I would extract him from the trap.  Next, my part-timer would grab his back legs so that he wouldn't shred us to pieces and we would take him down to the ground.  Once on the ground, my full-timer would put Advantage Flea Control between his shoulders.  We figured that if that was as far as we could get, it would be the best we could give him.  If we were able to hold him down, the next step was that I would cover his eyes, nose and mouth and she would spray a flea spray on him that would kill the fleas.  That was where the plan ended because, frankly, we didn't think we would get that far.

Okay - Here we go!

Did I mention that it was Hot? 

We were in our winter gear and we were in a chicken coop with a caged animal that desperately wanted out.  We were drenched before we ever got started.  I opened the door on the trap, but what we did not anticipate was that my arm was not actually long enough to reach the back of it.  He was staying just out of my reach, but hissing and growling and swatting at me.  Then all at once, he lept forward, and I am sure that I caught some part of him, but then he was outside of the cage and I didn't completely have him.  The next thing we knew he broke free and the chase was on.  Around and around the coop we went, and he was frantically trying to get out.  I am not sure how, but I caught him and he immediately sunk his teeth into my glove.  Lucky for both of us, his teeth were not as long as that leather was thick. 

Then we all sprang into action.  Part-timer grabbed his back end and we took him down flat on the ground.  Full-timer squeezed the Advantage Flea Control between his shoulder blades very quickly.  "Oliver" was not in the least bit happy and he was doing his best to get away.  Then I covered his face with my glove and she started spraying the flea spray on him.  This is where it all got a little weird.  She started massaging that spray into his coat and he became very still.  So still that we were just stunned.  The fun didn't stop there.  We were kind of watching each other and him, and then he started purring.

Yes, you heard me!  Purrrrrrrring!

His motor started running so loud that we couldn't believe what we were hearing.  All the while, he still wasn't moving.  Part-timer and I decided that we would see if we could turn him over and get the underneath side of him sprayed down.  We flipped him, full-timer started spraying and massaging, more purrrrrrring!  I am sure that it was the last thing that he wanted to be doing, but he couldn't help himself.  When those fleas started moving around, trying to get away from the spray, for the first time, they stopped biting him.


This went on for about 15 to 20 minutes, and we had long since stopped spraying and were just petting him.  All the while he was still going at it, purring away, as loudly as he possibly could because he had never felt anything so wonderful in all of his life.

When we finally decided to stop, we were sure that we wouldn't see him for a week once we let him out.  We knew that we had done all we could for him.  We were dying in the heat and needed to get out of our gear and cool off.  That is when we realized that we were stuck in the chicken coop.  The latch was on the outside of the door, and in anticipation of a fight, my part-timer had reached her little fingers through the wire and latched it shut in the beginning of this adventure.  Only trouble with that plan was that she didn't know that she really couldn't reach to get it unlocked. 

There were some moments of hopelessness because no one had thought to bring a cell phone, and we were wondering how long it would take for someone to find us, but she persevered and managed to stretch and reach it some how. 

At last we were free.

This is when my full-timer looked at me, and said, "I think Oliver is too nice of a cat for our kitty to be named after."

Really?  I don't know why she would think that?

So when we asked her what she was thinking of calling him? 

She said, "Kid.  Billy the Kid!"

That is how one of the most famous Outlaws of the Old West came to live in our barn.  The name fit him then, and it still fits him now.

It didn't take him long to warm up to all of us.  We can easily pick him up and he grabs on and starts purring.  He loves to be held like a baby, and he wraps his paw around your back and hangs on.  He loves for someone to pet him on his nose, right between his eyes.  He has been vaccinated, neutered, wormed, and has never had a flea issue since..  He gets to venture indoors in inclement weather and he loves it.  He gets locked away from the dogs, but the first time that I brought him inside last Winter, I was more than a little hesitant.  I had no idea what he would do, but as soon as he realized that he was bunking inside, he immediately started purring, and I mean purrrrrring.  I told the Man in charge that if a cat could talk, I was certain that he was saying, "Yes!  I finally made it to the Big House!"

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