The Trouble with Miss Lucy

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Black and orange stray cat

sittin’ on a fence.

Ain’t got enough dough to pay the rent.

I’m flat broke, but I don’t care,

I strut right by with my tail in the air...

...I don’t bother chasin’ mice around,

I slink down the alley, lookin’ for a fight,

howlin’ to the moon on a hot summer night... (1)

Whose barn doesn’t have a few furry felines hanging from the barn beams or slithering through the stalls keeping rats away?

They wander lazily out in front of your hottest filly as she’s letting off some p and v, they also specifically wander out in front of you as you’re carrying your heaviest Western saddle, blanket, pad and bridle.

Why worry about tripping over the dragging reins, when you have Miss Lucy underfoot?

They turn their nose up at the nice tuna and egg canned dinner you prepare, while shooting you a withering glare, but then turn around and lick their butt. And forget about the fresh water given daily, there are plenty of puddles out in the pasture and driveway.

Little Susie tripped over one after her riding lesson the other day, and now she’s suing you for medical damages due to a twisted ankle and cracked wrist.

The lucky ones who get to live up in the farm house really don’t know how good they have it; the food, the soft bed to lay on, the catnip toys, the warm register or hearth.

But, if you make them angry, by, say, switching cat food brands or tossing the afghan around during Monday night football, you may receive an unannounced visit from The Claw or The Poop Fairy.

These unannounced visits usually occur deep in the night, in the dark, in the quiet, when you go barefoot to get a drink of water, and can cause a growl or roar to issue forth from your deepest depths that would scare Satan straight, while the cat feigns depraved indifference.

Or then there is the more secretive Puke Fairy, who lives behind the couch and can spew on cue, but who is seldom seen until your snooty Aunt Mabel drops by for tea.

That smell emanating from under the davenport isn’t because you left your muck boots there by mistake.

One or two in a lifetime make their way to a special place in your heart, where they live forever.

We think of them as rat catchers and mousers, commonplace on farms, or they may be the treasure of our hearts; our perfect man doesn’t mind one purring contentedly at the foot of the bed each night.

Many-a- woman laments over morning java how she misses her man from time to time, this after he told her to choose between him and the horses and cats.

This is too bad, especially because his mother lives in Australia.

Cat People love cats and cat jokes, but there is a sobering reality surrounding our furry, feline friends.

They do lead secret lives, far away from hearth and home.

Doing cat things such as slinking, hiding and hunting, they become little predators whilst away from Mommy’s goodness of treats, toys and soft nests of fleece.

Their cat fangs are pointy and they lower their ears into a level position to maximize camouflage, while slithering through undergrowth or hayfields, hunting for mice or song birds.

Just as their large cousins hide and wait in African undergrowth, pouncing on lizards, birds or small mammals, so our little Miss Lucy hides and waits, pouncing on salamanders, birds or small mammals, too.

Even though cats are well-fed at home, the predator instinct is there.

The farmer’s tale that they won’t hunt if a bowl of cat chow is left in the aisleway is erroneous; the predator instinct is inborn.

Why, just pull a piece of string past any cat and the predatory instinct is overwhelming; they just have to chase and capture it, using claws and teeth.

The same occurs out in the field, cat claws rip and shred while teeth clamp.

Piles of feathers and blood or a mouse tail left laying are tell tale signs of attack when Miss Lucy goes on a prowl.

The trouble with this, pertaining to song bird populations, is the impact on eco-systems.

The University of Nebraska’s Extension Office has submitted a review of the wild, feral cat dilemma. (2)

See www.ianrpubs.unl.edu.build.ecl1781.pdf. (3)

The Nebraska Report indicates close to 60,000,000 feral cats are on the loose, killing an approximate - See Horsin' page 28

Horsin' - from page 17

480,000,000 birds each year. (4)

The American Bird Conservancy, www.abcbirds.org, has released estimates coming in at 1,000,000,000 mammals every year! (5)

Yes, we’re talking millions and billions, folks.

Ground dwelling birds hatch chicks that are defenseless; men who go sport hunting for game such as quail, pheasant or grouse, or also waterfowl should be looking at these statistics as chick, duckling and gosling populations are at tremendous risk.

These feral or wild cats are not tame, will never be tame, that have to hunt for a living, and these are out on their own, roving around making more cats and decimating bird populations.

As I volunteer at a local cat spay clinic, we see a lot of different situations coming in with cats and owners, along with all of their different stories.

Most people don’t want extra kitties running around. This gets expensive with food and medicine, but Vets have made spay and neuter procedures prohibitively expensive.

A lot of people with families who don’t make much money often have trouble affording these surgical costs.

Thus, cats go on populating farms and neighborhoods, creating more and more cats and wreaking havoc on each other and wildlife eco-systems.

The sobering statistic of cat populating goes as follows, loosely estimating, and this is the trouble with Miss Lucy:

One female cat produces 5 kittens.

These 5 kittens produce 5 kittens each, putting the number at 25.

These 25 cats then produce 5 kittens each, putting the number at 125.

These 125 cats then produce 5 kittens each, putting the number at 625 cats in four generations.

Multiply 625 x 5 and the number of cats produced is a whopping 3,125.

The grand total is 3,905 cats in 5 generations, all coming from one cat.

Add all of these figures together; this can be in just one rural or city area with unspayed cats.

This pandemic is nation-wide.

Leaving cats unspayed is an out-dated European attitude whose time is long over.

The motto of the ASPCA clinic where I volunteer is, "Fix ‘Em Now!" (6)

Wild, feral cats lead short, miserable lives filled with starvation and disease, vicious attacks by coyotes, dogs, other cats and ... "Unspeakable cruelty inflicted by sadistic people." (7)

There are spay clinics with reduced surgical costs that can be located through friends of friends; some of these promote programs of Trap, Spay and Release.

My personal opinion, and don’t send scalding letters to my Editor, is to Trap and Euthanize.

These wild, feral cats will never be adopted by a family.

They continue to decimate song bird populations. They are not friendly and no one wants adult cats anyway; everyone wants little kittens.

The monetary resources wasted on spaying wild, feral cats that are un-adoptable could be used for friendly cats who could be adopted.

Specifically, the money could be used for spay procedures, shots and medical necessities, and shelter costs, such as food and kitty litter.

Adult cats make great pets, feral cats will never be anybody’s pets.

I strongly urge readers that if you are going to keep cats, any cats, to do it right.

This means spay, rabies shots, food and flea treatment, for indoor as well as barn cats.

Flea collars and bombs are out-dated.

One 30-day application of Advantage kills fleas on contact. As fleas gradually jump on to the animal, their population dies permanently, thus eliminating the need for a bomb.

You have the money for beer and cigarettes, don’t you? Then you better have the money to take care of your animals, otherwise, don’t have them.

Just remember the catch-phrase of Bob Barker from "The Price is Right" tv game show, "Help control pet over-population, spay and neuter your pets today." (8)

Folks, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year, it has been a real pleasure writing for all of you over these past months!

Soon a brand new year will be ushered in all over this great land of ours; may yours be peaceful and bright, and just remember, Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Thanks for reading "Horsin’ Around," and keep on buying the Community News.

So long for now; closing out 2010 with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."

1: "Stray Cat Strut," performed by The Stray Cats

2, 3, 4: Scott Shalaway, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, University of Nebraska

5: Scott Shalaway, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, American Bird Conservancy

6: ASPCA/ Pet Fix Mobile Surgical Clinic, Cleveland, OH

7: Scott Shalaway, Biologist, Columnist, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Outdoors/ Wildlife/ Get Into Nature

8: Bob Barker, game show host

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Happy New Year To All!