by Joyce Sammons
(Hodges, SC, USA)
This is the only story I’ve written where I don’t have any pictures to share. It happened during a time in my life when I had slipped on my love of photography.
Butch was given to me as a kitten. He was your typical short haired gray tabby and was a totally outdoor cat. Some mornings I’d even find him curled up on the porch with my cocker spaniel Bama. Butch would show up a couple of times a day for food. Other than that he was one of the neighborhood critter stalkers.
My job at the time was in security at a local automotive plant. I worked nights from 10:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. One night I left for work in more of a hurry than usual. I didn’t think anything of the back window of my car being down.
Until I walked out of one of the buildings at work and there sat Butch. Then it hit me. He enjoyed sleeping in the back seat of my car and I’d forgotten to shoo him out before I left home.
I took Butch and put him back in my car and before long he was sitting in front of the guardhouse. I never knew how he got out. I didn’t have time to take him back to my car so I went on about my job until morning. Butch sat in front of the guardhouse and greeted the employees as they came in to work. He was really funny to watch.
I had to stop by and visit a friend before going home and Butch followed me from the car and then back to the car when I left. He wasn’t normally this friendly and obedient.
He stuck close to me the next few days. I rationalized the extra attention he was paying me was down to his experience of being carried off to several strange places in the past few days.
One morning I was sitting on the steps petting him when-I saw double. There was a cat just like Butch walking across the field toward us. I looked down at Butch and then at the other cat. They were identical with one exception. The cat I was petting was slightly smaller.
Butch wasn’t too happy to find me petting a smaller version of himself. The cat I had brought home was one of the ferals that hung out where I worked. Most would just hang around waiting for food in the patio area (there was always food and water put out.) Every now and then an employee could tame one enough to take it home. There were traps set out to catch the skunk population the plant was having. One night I counted 14 skunks. Sometimes a cat would get into the trap and someone would take the cat home.
If everyone thinks I’m just a cat lady they need to think again. I’m also the skunk lady! Let’s just say never rattle keys to scare off a skunk. They LIKE that sound and will investigate. I had a few of them tame enough to come up and eat a handful of cat food. From a safe distance, of course.
The plant was located across the street from a livestock auction. In the 3 years I worked there I saw a lot working at night. The nocturnal population was amazing. Animals on the property included a starving pig, 3 goats, 1 turtle, 4 cats, 3 dogs (I took one home and found it a good home), squirrels, possums, snakes, deer, bobcats, foxes, skunks and bears. Yes-I said bears. One night a call came in that some bear cubs were near the patio area at one of the buildings and security needed to secure the area. The employees wanted to pet the cubs. One night a fox walked within 10 feet of me. I was sitting in a golf cart just enjoying the landscaping and I froze. Rabies is always a concern when wild animals are this close. The sad truth is their wooded environment was being replaced with businesses and housing.
Now back to Butch.
Butch learned to like his new friend and took him hunting each day. I named the new cat Zach. They were both good cats. Butch eventually found his way into the road and I buried him in his favorite spot near mama’s azaleas. Zach stayed in the neighborhood on the west side of the property. After I moved I went back and brought him home with me. I had hoped he’d be as good as Salem and adapt easily to a new environment. Zach disappeared into the woods across the street and refused to come home. Once in awhile I’d see him prowling and I hope he found a good home in the neighborhood. He seemed happy and I even took food across the road just in case.
Zach and Salem (still need to write his story) were the last cats I owned until the day I found Furby. And you all know how that story is turning out. His story starts here.
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