Please enjoy this guest post today, written by guest writer Jerry Koufeldt!
A little over a year ago, July, 2010, I arrived at my father’s house in Marengo, Indiana. It was a typically hot and humid day. My father lives on 20+ acres, mostly wooded. Outside the birds, it’s relatively quiet there. On snowy winter days, the snow can almost be described as “loud”. I stepped out of my car and began walking into the house. Then, I heard the distinct sound of a kitten meowing.
It was a soft meow but obviously loud enough for me to hear. I walked around the house and yard looking everywhere for the distressed sounding kitten. Finally, as I just started considering giving up, I found the kitten. He was hiding beyond the backyard just beyond a barbed wire fence, about fifteen feet into the woods, but there was the kitten, seeming to hide behind a small leaf. I saw his eyes and tiny orange ears peeking out.
It took quite a while to coax the small, emaciated feline from the woods. I tried walking towards him, but with each step, he would back away the same distance. I tried reverse psychology on the little thing and acted as if I was going to walk away. He came bouncing out, cautious, but eager and quite excited.
Once he got out, I realized just how malnourished this little fella was. He felt like a very old, loose, weather-worn piece of carpet draped over tiny sticks. He was covered in filth and fleas and tics, but he was so very friendly. More than anything, he seemed to be starved for attention. All he wanted was to be petted. Food, however, was more necessary than anything.
At my father’s house, he hasn’t had a pet in years since the golden retriever we rescued passed away. Needless to say, there was no pet food. The next best thing was a can of tuna. At his size, this kitten may have weighed less than the normal sized can of tuna. He wasn’t much bigger than the can. The moment he smelled the tuna, he proceeded to eat everything in the can. After gobbling down his last bite, he then turned his attention back to me. He wanted to sleep.
He couldn’t keep his eyes open. I’m sure he’d not slept much. At his age, living in the wild had to be scary. I was sitting on the edge of a railroad tie that my dad uses as landscaping, and as I petted the little kitten, he curled up on top of my shoe and fell asleep within a few moments, purring the entire time.
As I said, he was riddled with fleas and ticks. I decided to go to the pet store and get some flea and tick drops. I would get my pet carrier, too. About a year earlier, I lost my two cats in a breakup. I’d been with those cats for quite a few years. Suddenly, they were gone. I missed them terribly, but after some time, I adjusted to living alone. In all honesty, I was not very interested in having another pet. Pets are a lot of responsibility, even cats. Cats aren’t as high maintenance as dogs, but there are still a lot of responsibilities that come with having a cat. I intended to take him to a shelter as soon as I got him all checked out and given the “OK” by the vet.
The next day, when I returned to my dad’s house, I had some trouble finding the little guy. I didn’t hear him. My dad did say he’d seen him a little earlier stalking butterflies and lizards but hadn’t in a few hours. I looked for over an hour and was beginning to fear the worst (hit by a car, eaten by a predator, dead from malnourishment or disease). Walking towards my dad’s barn in a spot where some grasses and weeds were a bit tall, I spotted the tiny orange kitten playing with one of those weeds with a long thin stem and a small tip, the kind that little kids sing the song, “momma had a baby and the head popped off” as they pop the top of the flower and send it shooting away. He’d jump towards the top of the flower, stumbling once he landed due to having little to no coordination. He was quite young. I was guessing him about six weeks old since he was already on his own. When he finally spotted me watching him, he opened his mouth as wide as he could and barely got out his quiet little “mew”. He wrinkled his nose when he tried to meow. He came bouncing towards me. I could hear him purring before he got to me.
My dad’s house is in a sparsely populated area. Not many neighbors. We’ve always had a bit of an issue with people abandoning animals there. It was obvious this little guy was either abandoned, or his momma lost him (or, it is highly likely he lost his momma to predators). I looked everywhere for a momma cat, but I never found one.
I put the flea and tick medicine on him, put him in the pet carrier, and off to the vet we went. I’ve been going to the same vet for over 20 years for different pets. As he examined the kitten, he told me, “well, he’s a lucky little fella. I’d say he was a day or two away from starvation.” He also told me the kitten was probably more like four weeks old and somewhat underdeveloped due to malnutrition. We got him all fixed up, and I brought him home with every intention of taking him to a no-kill shelter.
The day before that, I went to the store and bought a new litter box and got some kitten food for him. I knew I was going to keep him at least a day or two before taking him to the shelter. The moment I showed him the litter box, he knew exactly what it was for. He has never, not once, had an accident.
He’s a wonderful little fella. I’ve heard that the names we give our pets directly correlates to how much we respect the animal. My educational background is in philosophy, and based on how I found this little fella, I named him Hobbes, not after the character in the comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes”, but after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (who, coincidentally, was also the inspiration for the character “Hobbes” from the comic strip). See, Thomas Hobbes used the phrase “the state of nature” in his works. For Thomas Hobbes, the state of nature is a nasty, brutish and overall horrible place to be (humans before “humanity” and law), and that’s where I found Hobbes the Cat, and that’s what he is. He’s the little state of nature. He still wrinkles his nose when he tries to meow, and his little voice is still soft, but he talks all the time.
He’s a happy cat. He meows and purrs and keeps his tail straight up, slightly hooked all the time. He’s playful, and in the mornings, he’s most lovable. When I watch television, he’ll curl up on my legs. I can look at him and play the “slow blink” game cats will play only when they’re very comfortable. I blink at him, and he blinks back. What I hope more than anything is that he doesn’t remember those times of being on his own and lost in the woods. My dad told me that he’d been hearing Hobbes at least a day or two before I found him. That’s such a long time for such a young kitten to be alone, but he is the state of nature. Now he’s grown, not a large cat at all. He’s on the small side of average, and he’s very happy.
The state of nature
is my house cat looking out
for a bug to kill.