Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Three Ancient River Cats

I visited my old friend last night.   I worried some about the visit, because the last time I visited, it brought back very traumatic memories, of a very hard time in my life.  I was wracked with nightmares and regrets and horrors of the past for several weeks.  This was a best friend from back in those hard days, who helped me escape that life within the horrid brutal mental system.

Part of the time I lived in Corvallis, under the iron fist, forced medication, poverty, stigma and cruelty of the mental system, I spent most of my time along the river, living there sometimes when I had no other place.  I was arrested there once, for yelling at a barge, dumping huge rocks along the river, and threatening my river cats and other wildlife I had grown to love.  Like Beavis, a huge beaver living along the banks, destroyed by the Corvallis project that created the river front park.

I tried so hard to save my river cats from the city's big plans for the banks.  Despite poverty, I had one by one trapped them to be fixed.  I sometimes had to carry the cat in the trap half a mile, back to the room I rented in a low income hotel.  I had no car most of that time.

My friend took in two of the river cats, Scratch--daughter of Captain Courageous, the angel of the river, and Half n Half, who lived under Allan Brothers coffee warehouse, in the alley, next to Mater Engineering.  Both her brothers were killed and I can't go into the details because it will make me cry.  Those cats were my family, virtually the only beings in the world who cared for me.

Scratch was just a little puny thing, who cried continuously.  Halfnhalf, "Halfie" now, was older when my friend took her in, after I trapped her on Christmas.  I remember going into the lobby of the Chinese place to take a break from trapping, and hoping to use the restroom and being shooed out like a stray by the owner, who thought I was homeless and therefore worthless.

It's hard to believe it now, but those girls are both 19 years old.  Vision, my river cat here, is 20.  I began helping cats as pay back to those river cats who helped me because with them, I finally had a family.  I haunted the rocks along the river with them.  They were my people.  I found my place, my tribe, love with them.

Precocious precious wonderful Scratch, former Corvallis river cat, now 19 years old.

Halfnhalf, an adult full out feral, when I trapped her, tamed to become a lap cat and has been cherished.  She too is 19 years old.

What a traumatic time I had of it back then.  The river cats turned the course of my life.  I left the mental system, left Corvallis behind, and have the satisfaction of remembering that despite poverty and tremendous odds against me, I did not abandon my family.  When the river project talk started up, despite extreme shyness, I spoke out publicly against it, never mentioning the cats, fearing if I brought the cats into it, they'd be killed instantly, in a society and a town where feral cats were thought of as vermin and Heartland Humane still killed hundreds of cats every month.

Scratch, Halfie and Vision are ancient as the river itself and part of me.

They always will be part of me.

Vision, daughter of Captain Courageous and my beloved river girl, now 20.


  1. Hi Strayer
    Beautiful and tragic all at once. Those are beautiful cats you've rescued. You brought them out of hard times.
    I wish people could be taught compassion and respect for
    cats. Sometimes it seems that our american society is full of cruelty and viciousness.
    I love and respect that you cannot and will not turn your back on a cat in need. You are a "warrior cat goddess".sounds goofy , but in my mind, that's how I think of you. You are a persistent, consistent, loving and strong woman for the cats that others leave behind.
    I encourage you to write a book, you're a great writer with a story to tell.

  2. I do not know if compassion can be taught. Maybe its born into a person or learned when a person experiences terrible hardships and suffering themselves. I don't really know. Thank you for saying those kind words. I appreciate them. I should write a book, been making some progress on it lately. Marketing would be the problem, and I can't make any money either, still being under the severe rules of SSI, that guarantee poverty for life. I could write it as Odd Cat Out, however, with any profits going directly that way.

  3. They are part of you - and you are part of them. They don't forget.
    Thank you for being you.

  4. I hear ya. I enjoy reading your work. Those keep you poor SSI rules. They are hard to negotiate. There are days when I feel "employ-ably useless" . Even if a person makes a little income on the books, the following month SSI yanks it away. There is an injustice to that. Keeping one at below poverty level. My house cleaning income is (for obvious reasons) unclaimed. And I still barely keep bills paid. Cat supplies always are taken care of first. I go without sometimes. I too am in the clan of "I won't tell how many cats I have." I frequent the local food bank, and they even give away cans of cat food and some kibble.
    If it weren't for my cats, I wouldn't know what to do every day. I love working for my cats.
    All the many chores that there are in a multi cat household. I think it's my favorite job in life. Gives a purpose and a reason to be. And I love waking up everyday surrounded by cats on my pillow, on the bed and for the most part they get along well.
    Take care.hope your scary nightmares of your past stay at bay. You've done wonders for the cat world. You rock,cat momma!
    Have a nice day. :-)

  5. Thanks EC.

    Autumn, at least now the cats care is under Poppa Inc. and Odd Cat Out, however, with the overlay, that I fundraise the money used for the cats here, which isn't an easy thing. I am not that crafty, to make things to sell, anyway, it's pretty tough to even raise enough for the occasional vet visit, let alone for daily food, litter, flea treatment, wormer. It's a big challenge. But without that option, Rogue and Cougie would be dead and I'd have no options for the cats here. So it's wonderful to have it and speaking of, I better get busy trying to figure out how to raise some more, because the account is currently almost empty. You described exactly how I feel, lacking human contact and family, I love my cats and caring for them, sleeping with them, playing with them, having a purpose to care for them.