Looks like I’m going to run out of book before we run out of countdown days. The sections will be a little shorter to draw it out so you have it all closer to the target date, but probably only a couple more days. Hope you’ve enjoyed it and will share! E.A. Scarborough, K.B. Dundee, and Spam the Cat.
According to the Critter Channel there were too many kittens already, and a lot of them didn’t survive infancy. But those kittens weren’t ones I was taking care of. I purred as loudly as I could to reassure the little thing and worried myself into a doze. Then I really had to pee, so I jumped down and poised to go on the floor of the carport.
The owl sailed into the enclosure and perched on the side of the manger, cocking his head first to one side, and then the other, studying the kitten, who was kind of bumbling around like It in a game of hide and seek. I was frozen. This was it. After all we’d been through, I wasn’t close enough to reach the kitten before the owl could eat her. I started to growl, but then instead of slashing at the kitten with his beak, the owl, put his beak to his own wing and plucked out a feather, allowing it to drift down onto the kitten’s ear. The little one raised a feeble paw, tried to bat the feather, and fell over.
The owl said, in a formal kind of way. “I’m sorry I tried to eat you. The coon explained to me that it’s unwise to eat someone born on such an auspicious day, and furthermore, bad luck. That the custom is to give them gifts instead. So here’s one of my personal feathers. Should you ever need me at any time, just lick the feather, and I’ll help you however I can—and won’t eat you before, during or after.” He bent down and winked at me. “You explain it to the kid when she’s old enough, okay? You cats have a nice day.”
I was about to hop back into the manger when the door opened behind me, and a woman wearing a puffy purple jacket over pajamas and gardening boots bustled out and headed to the cage in the back yard, without seeing me or the kitten. I returned to the kitten and waited, and pretty soon, here she came, hauling the cage. She’d put a blanket over it. I sat up and meowed for her attention, pawing at the air just in case she was deaf.
“Hello, handsome. What’s the matter? You didn’t climb aboard before the door shut?”
She set down the cage to pet me—and maybe add me to her catch, I don’t know, and I moved aside so she could see the kitten. La Toya mewed piteously, which could almost be heard.
“Oh,” the woman said. “Oh, dear. Well, this is different. We’ll have to go inside and sort this out.” She picked up the kitten and stuck her in one of the jacket pockets and picked up the cage again. I decided I had done about all I could do and that I didn’t have time to get taken into custody and released again. It was Christmas, and according to the older cats, there were treats and new toys to be had at home.
Home seemed a very long way away however. The woman didn’t grab for me, but held open the door so I could go inside too. I guess she had decided I wasn’t feral because of the very brave and confident way I acted with her. I declined her gracious invitation, and before she had the carrier inside, had hit the sidewalk and was two houses away.
I was very tired. I had not had my customary five or six rejuvenating naps that night while staying alert against possible threats to La Toya and her kitten. Had it not been so cold, I’d have found a nice little spot to curl up and sleep. But it was cold, and Christmas morning was here. I pattered up the sidewalk, but confess my tail had less than its usual perky curl, and the light hurt my eyes. It’s not surprising that I missed noticing what was not there, under the circumstances.
Nelda’s little herd stood grazing at the edge of the woods.
“Oh, Spam,” she said, her tone in my mind a bit whispery. “The coyote didn’t get you. Good.”
“Thanks for the backup,” I said, a little sarcastically. The coyote might be a supreme predator, but the deer were bigger and had very sharp hooves—and Buck had antlers. They might have helped a little.
“You’re very welcome. Good thing we were there to warn you.”
I felt sorry for being so grouchy and rubbed against her slender front legs. “Thanks.” They were deer, after all, and almost always bolted at the least threat. “Rocky took care of the coyote.”
Gelda said, “You are a tired kitty, aren’t you? A long night?”
“You know it. I’ve been on the move, busy all the time, since I saw you guys last night.”
“Want a ride?” she offered. The deer had let me ride them before in an emergency, but had made it clear they were not a cat taxi service. “In honor of the reindeer and the manger.”
I jumped onto her back, my front paws around her neck, my back ones straddling her back. And I was out of it until, almost at the upper edge of the woods, I heard Darcy calling me. “Spam! Spammy! Come and get it, kitty! There’s goodies!”
I said, “Merry—uh—hay manger, Gelda!” and started to jump down, but she said, “Wait, cat. The street is dangerous. I am bigger. Let me cross.” And she carried me over saying, “Merry Manger to you too, cat.”
Darcy stood at our door, clutching her sweater tight around her. I started to jump into her arms, but noticed one of her hands was occupied—a tattered brown box with bubble wrap poking out. She caught my look and bent down and picked me up, juggling her package. “Just because you can go out whenever you want to doesn’t mean you should stay out, Spammy. I was worried.” She kissed my head between my ears and buried her face in my fur. She smelled nice, and I knew she was fresh out of the shower. I started the arduous task of marking her with my scent all over again, starting with cheek rubs.
She carried me inside, dropping the package on the table, and me on the floor. I made straight for the food dish. The kibble was low. I looked up at Darcy, who was messing with her package and wearing a puzzled expression.
Deputy Shelter Dude walked into the kitchen from the living room. “Anything the matter?”
“No, Spam’s back, but—there was a package on the stoop, kind of beat up. My cousin in Minneapolis sent it a month ago and gave me the tracking number. It should have been here two weeks ago.”
“That is one messed up package,” he said. “Maybe it got lost in the mail, or shredded in one of the machines . . .”
“But nobody delivers on Christmas Day,” she said. “Hmmm.”
“Maybe it went to a neighbor by mistake and they dropped it off.”
Somewhere, a dog barked. It turned out to be in DSD’s jacket. “Sorry, I gotta go,” he said. “Don’t suppose you want to come with me?”
“What’s going on, Daryl?”
“Three new cats coming in—a very small half-frozen female and her newborn. Amanda Baker says it’s a wonder the kitten made it since somehow she trapped the mother, but not the baby. It would have frozen, but another big fluffy cat was curled up with it in the manger in the nativity scene in their carport.”
“I wish she had a picture of that!” Darcy said, casting a quick look at me. She knows from personal experience that I have skills not possessed by my siblings. “You said three cats?”
“Yeah, a big male, definitely feral. Badly matted coat. Ginny’s going to come in tomorrow morning and do his surgery and shots.”
His surgery? The old man was not going to like that.