Wednesday, July 28, 2010

4 Cats, Part 3


As Plague and Pestilence came as a team, so did War and Famine...  As their names suggest, they go together like death and taxes.  They are so connected that it is hard to tell their stories separately.  So I will basically tell their mutual story and War’s here and give Famine her own tomorrow.
War and Famine: Dan worked graveyard shift at an onion and garlic drying mill.  In the middle of November, 1993, he relieved the swing shift supervisor who told him about the box with the two kittens that had come though the garlic line.

Now, you have to understand about garlic processing.  It is a very mechanical process with lots of machinery involved.  The garlic is kept in a huge warehouse in long mounds about 5 feet high.  A bulldozer scoops up a couple of tons of garlic bulbs and drops them into a machine called a tipplehopper (love the name).  This machine shakes the garlic bulbs down onto a wire mesh that shakes dirt, small rocks, other small junk, while a huge hooded vacuum sucks up the chaff (called "shook") and dust. 

The garlic shakes its way across to another machine, called a star separator, which is like a rotating wheel over a long, narrow slit, where long sticks can drop through.  Then onto a conveyor belt where, the last thing before going into a quick hot bath to take off the skin, real, live humans pick over the garlic to remove larger rocks, coke cans, and the occasional critter (ahem).  The line worker picked up the first kitten, then dropped it, thinking it was a rat.  Realized it was a baby kitten and removed it.  Pretty soon, along came another one.  It is absolutely amazing that they survived with all their appendages intact.

Their origin was utterly unknown...

The kittens were put in a box, the day shift supervisor promised to look for someone to take them, and Dan went home.  He was getting a cold and went to bed.  Just before the end of the day shift (another eight hours), he called to find out if they had found a home for the kittens.  Nope.  Dan got out of his sick bed and went to rescue the kittens.  Ann and Dan met at the vet's office.  Each kitten had one eye open, and the vet said they were about two weeks old.  They decided the kittens should have a Halloween birthday.  The male weighed less than 6 ounces, and the vet wasn't sure he'd make it.  They got shots, and Ann and Dan took home medicine and kitten formula.

WAR:  They named the little male kitty War cuz “he looked like he'd been through the wars”.
War was really an average cat.  He always walked with his tail held high, and was a happy cat.  He eventually got up to about 17 pounds.  His head was bigger than he was when they first got him.  He was nothing special until they moved to the country and let the cats go outside (they had been strictly indoor cats until then.  He could triangulate the exact spot on the floor where he would most be in the way (reminds me of Iza’s talent for that).  And one day Ann was making dinner.  She turned around and War was sitting there with a gopher at his feet! 
We have all read that a cat won't learn to make a kill if it doesn't learn it from its mother.  Well, we all know it ain't so.  War was a champion gopher getter and no one taught him. Ann and Dan learned more about the local rodentia than they ever wanted to know!  They learned to trade the rodents for canned kitty treats (everybody got some, no matter who brought in the not-always-dead prey).  He was easy-going and undemanding, with no real peculiarities.

His nicknames were “Mr. Tail”, “Beeg Boy”, “Handsome”, and “Speed Bump”.

He died July 11, 2010 at 16 years old.