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Gayle Neuhaus shares a more personal Winnetoon story…I know you will enjoy it as much as I do!  AV

GeneaBloggers prompt for stories of childhood pets. I did have many as a child, but this is my favorite pet story. GN

 

Daily, as I worked in the flower garden, she would lay about five feet from me.  The stray cat had long beautiful dark fur with lighter and darker markings.  Each front paw sported six toes.  As the days passed, the cat edged closer, scooting away, if I tried touching her.

Repeatedly, I told her, “Cat, go home!”, until I realized she had kittens hidden in Ed’s John, one of the outhouses in Privy Path.  Well, a mother needs nourishment to raise her babies.  I offered a breakfast of generic dry cat food.  She haughtily refused it.  I switched to expensive canned food.  This suited her culinary taste.

Several weeks later, I was allowed brief pats at her discretion and “Mitten” moved into the workshop.

Cowboy Joe, who had worked with me for years repairing furniture, detested cats – Mitten, more than most.  Joe was straightforward and down to earth.  Mitten had an attitude—she was QUEEN!  The cowboy and the cat formed an edgy relationship.

Two years passed with the three of us sharing the workshop.  Then, Joe became ill, missing many workdays.  On his last day here, Mitten disappeared.  While he was still well enough, Joe and I talked on the phone each day.  He told me he’d seen Mitten on a load of hay just before it pulled out of town.  Knowing how attached I was to her, he said, “I didn’t like her sneaky ways, but I hope she comes back.”  I replied, “I’d rather have the cowboy than the cat.”

It was lonesome in the workshop.  Joe was hospitalized with terminal cancer.  Still, no sign of Mitten.

Just ten weeks after he was hospitalized, I received the dreaded call.  Joe had passed away.  With tears streaming, I fumbled my way through the open door of the workshop.  In the shadows, something moved.  Mitten came forward to greet me!  I grabbed her up and sobbed, “Joe, you sent Mitten back to comfort me.”

As the cowboy was on his way to heaven, did he whisper, “Cat, go home…”

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Mitten is a Maine Coon Polydactyl, an “Ernest Hemingway Cat”.  The QUEEN refuses to pose for a portrait.  So, check out this link to see what she looks like, along with a picture showing the paws with thumbs. This link explains Ernest Hemingway’s connection with these cats.

When Mitten returned from her 10 week trip, she was a very changed cat…never a loving lap cat, she became obsessed with sleeping on my lap for hours.  She would follow me everywhere, even waiting outside the restroom door.  Mitten seemed to know I was depressed and needed comfort.  She also needed to know she was really home.  Who knows what terrible experiences she had, besides stormy and rainy weather.  In fact, so much rain, the ditches and culverts overran.  As an aftermath of the storms, Mitten became afraid of thunder and loud noises.  She was in remarkable condition except for ear mites, fleas and ticks.  One front leg had a tear almost to the bone.  One side must have been hurt, as she still complains when it is touched.  Wish she could relate her adventures.

It took several weeks for Mitten to relax and almost become her former independent self.  When she originally moved into the shop, I was the only one who could touch her, but only for a moment.  After her return, she gradually accepted the brief attention of others.

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March 2009

Two years ago, the 19th, Mitten disappeared, returning June 5th.  Over this period, her attitude has completely changed.  Maybe partly due to the fact that her grown kitten, Boo, was taken by someone on Christmas Eve Day, 2008.  She loves being “THE CAT” in residence and letting everyone know she is “Queen”.  Now, she demands attention from most every customer coming in the door, following them around, asking for a pat.

She has her own toy box on the front counter and is either sleeping in it or throwing out her toys.  An identical box sits by my computer, where she sleeps or intently watches the mouse and other moving objects on the screen.  This box used to be Boo’s.  Mitten refused to use it, until I changed the bedding.  Her favorite sleeping spots are the $350 baby carriage and the $500 baby cradle.

Boo spent a lot of his time taking over Mitten’s favorite resting spots.  This miffed her greatly.  Now, it’s all hers.  Wonder if she had something to do with Boo’s disappearance?  Willard claims she took him off to where she was and said, “Now, see if you can find your way back.”  Boo did not have Mitten’s smarts.  Joe always called him the dumb cat, but he was so much fun.  Once, Joe dug a hole for me to plant a tree.  I saw Boo with all but his back legs and tail in the hole, spinning round and round.  Something scared him badly one day, then, for two weeks he refused to leave the workshop.  I would carry him to the store and back in the evening.  The ceiling fan terrified him, sending him under the workbench.  Chasing bugs was a great pastime.  Boo loved to lie in my arm like a baby when I was on the computer.  If I was using Dogpile and the dog would bark, he was instantly awake and gone.  Boo would always answer with “Pert” when I called.

Mitten only answers if it pleases her.  If I can’t find her, all I have to do is open the big garage door.  When she hears that, she comes running. The same with the Museum front door.  Mitten is a terrible snoop and has been locked in buildings several times.  Last winter, I was working in the store one evening and I could not find Mitten.  Finally, I unlocked the postal drawer and there she was!  She still crawls in there.  Now, I know enough to look.

These past few months, Mitten has become very vocal, actually demanding.  When she wants outside, she nags.  When she wants inside, she nags.  If I don’t jump immediately, she hangs on the front door and looks in the window, nagging.  There are certain people, she depends on to be her doorman.  Carol is one.  Mitten saw Carol go towards the bank, ran after her, nagging.  Carol asked, “Do you want in?” Mitten nagged some more as she ran to the store’s front door, knowing Carol would follow and open both doors for her.

Mitten hates getting her feet wet.  As I scoop snow from the store to the workshop, she follows along behind, waiting for the snow to be removed.  Then, she daintily pads down the walk to check out her pet door in the shop.  Jon had made a loft for Mitten and Boo, so they could lie and look out the window.  They both loved it, but would not share.  Now, with Boo gone, I find Mitten there quite often, enjoying the sunshine or keeping out of the rain, while watching the street activity.

Mitten has her favorite people and mail carrier, Lyle is one.  When she hears him, she jumps from the computer tower to the top of the carrier case to see him.  She spends quite a bit of that time, dusting his cased mail with her tail.