RK Manx up a tree when stray gray drops in

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

RK Manx and I had begun to settle into a routine. I had grown used to my altered routine, twice a day feeding time when I had to be home, added expense to my budget to cover vet bills, and cat tracks amongst the dents and scratches all over my 180 thou-plus-miles car. I began noticing some positive changes around the place, fewer squirrels on the bird feeder, and now and then a mole offering at my doorsteps. Sometimes he was called Fluff, - he was quiet and gentle. He even purrs quietly. Imagine my surprise one morning as I heard this shriek--an absolutely unearthly sound startling me out of my pajamas!

This was my first introduction to Fritz, a wayward neighbor cat on his way to visit his progeny just down the road. The old gray Tom lived a couple miles east, cross country, and apparently had misgivings about the new man in the neighborhood, especially since Miss Kitty down the road doesn't seem as affectionate as she once did. Fritz didn't understand that Miss Kitty and another lady in the neighbor along with their owners had grown impatient with his utter negligence toward supporting the kittens he had fathered. Unknown to Fritz, he was supporting the vet on the side.

Imagine my surprise when my cat, the long legged rat-killing hunter with family roots in the Isle of Manx was twenty feet up in a tree while Fritz went merrily on his way. Fluff stayed aloft a better part of the day.

We had a talk when he got hungry enough to come down and I encouraged him to use his manhood-Fight back! I said. It took me a while to remember his first trip to the vet and to realize that his manhood had been impacted on that day.

The visit from Fritz became a part of the daily routine. He would swing by on his way down the road, chase Fluff up a tree and then go merrily on his way. Sometimes he would jump out from under the house. There was always this shriek and growl of resistance from RK but it always ended up the same, with him up a tree. It was obviously a game to the old gray cat with a crooked tail that had obviously 'been around'.

My approach to the problem was not well thought out. I never could hit him with anything I threw and he became used to the angry tone of my voice when I yelled, SCAT! I reasoned with myself that if I could catch him, I would ship him off to the Isle of Manx to deal with RK's ancestors. A trip to the vet was another thought soon discarded. After all I would have to catch him first. Murder was often in my thoughts but soon put aside since I know it's a felony to kill a domesticated animal. Aside from the jail sentence that might face me, when push comes to shove I really couldn't shoot the dratted old pest of a cat even if I sometimes wanted to.

Something changed this week. Fritz came by on his way home from the neighbors down the road looking weary and limping on his left front foot. RK didn't run up a tree and in fact was eyeing the old Tom in a sympathetic way. Perhaps he was wondering if Fritz could make the two miles cross country back home. I too, felt a little empathy. If the old pest comes back again, maybe I'll scramble him up an egg and maybe gentle him up enough for a visit to the vet.