BACKTRACKING

 

A Cat Named Ducks

 

by Terry Hogan

 

We have a cat named “Ducks”. Yes plural – “Ducks”.  It is a long story.  It is an orange cat. He is really pretty much an ugly cat. Ducks came to our home as a trade.  I have a friend a work who was looking for a home for some small ducks who were not so small anymore. They had outgrown the garage and his little girl.  I said that my wife had a friend who liked animals and lived on a farm with a duck pond. Well, as it turns out, she also had a cat that she saved from death at the local county animal shelter.  A trade was made.  We got the cat, which we named “Ducks” for obvious reasons.  And the real ducks? They found a home at another farm. But by then, we had Ducks.

 

Ducks has had a hard life.  He was neutered and declawed before he either escaped or was dumped.  Being declawed and neutered, he not only got abused by other male cats, but he was at a serious disadvantage when it came to capturing dinner. Ducks has one ear that is serrated from too many fights.  The other ear is malformed, probably from frostbite according to our vets.  Head on, he looks a little bit like the old fighter who had fought too often.  And this may be true of Ducks.  

 

Ducks has been with us for a few weeks now and we are learning bits and pieces about his past life.  Unlike other cats we have had, he likes children.  He doesn’t hide.  He squeezes in-between them to study coloring books on the floor.  So, he must have had children in his previous home.  Ducks is also addicted to milk – twice a day.  He becomes very emphatic if we are slow to provide it.  Ducks does everything but open the refrigerator door and pour the milk out himself.  Ducks does have a good internal alarm system.  Our clock is set for 5:15 am, Monday through Friday.  Ducks arrives on the bed about 4:45 to 5 am, demanding his milk.  Unfortunately, Ducks’ alarm does not reset on weekends.  

 

We bought Ducks some play toys- stuffed mice to be exact.  Unlike most cats that pat at the toys with the front claws and bite with their teeth, Ducks kicks the toy to his hind paws where he had claws.  He learned that clawless front feet provided little to grasp mice with, so he adapted to a hind feet strategy.  

 

Ducks doesn’t meow like a normal cat.  I’m not sure why.  For the first few days we had him, he was silent.  Then he began to make a noise that sounded like he must be the “Andy Devine” of the cat world.  (If you don’t remember Andy Devine, he was a TV cowboy sidekick who had a very gravelly voice.  I remember being told that his voice was due to falling with a pencil or other object in his mouth, but I can’t vouch to that).  But that is Ducks. He meows in a gravelly-sort-of voice that probably reflects some other hard life incident he has had.

 

But he has the good life now.  And he acts like he knew it was just a matter of time.  Now it is milk twice a day; fresh food and water and clean kitty litter. He has soft places to sleep. He has lots of windows and doors to watch those pesky squirrels, chipmunks and birds who have to make their own way on the outside.

 

But Ducks is not an isolated story.  My wife’s friend works at the animal shelter and is a soft touch.  She frequently takes animals home when their days are about to run out.  Her husband is a vet. He gets tagged to provide free medical aid to the hapless creatures.  She recently found a home for a large gray parrot.  The parrot had come from an unusual home that specialized in watching pornographic movies.  The parrot picked up “graphic language” and sound effects that are typical of X-rated movies. He became an X-rated parrot.  I don’t know where the gray parrot was placed, but I’d like to think it was with a retired minister who is very hard of hearing.  No matter where he landed, I’m sure he is an ice-breaker for conversation.

 

All in all, given the choice between Ducks and an X-rated gray parrot, I guess we made the right choice.

 

4-26-05