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THE STORY OF BIG RED – from Chris – from the Archives July 2009

“Big Red was at the farm when we arrived there in the summer of ’02.” I like to do that… like writing a western novel of those country western days when they wrote… it was the summer of ’02 and the railroad tracks were almost laid down across our valley constant reminders of un imagined things to come…’

Well, but he was a typical yellow tabby short haired male… the leader of a group of 10 short hair yellow tabby cats… and I never really understood from Lou, their human, who was who in regard to moms, dads, and offspring, except for the three siblings that always walked behind her across the yard with their tails completely intertwined like a barbershop pole. It stopped me in my tracks each time I watched them move along as a unit. It was their form of visual purring. And Big Red, he watched too from a distance, leader of the pack.

I caught them to have them vaccinated and fixed when we moved there, but once was enough for Big Red, and when Lou moved two years later, Big Red could not be caught. I hated that because he would lose his group but worse than that my dogs did not accept him as part of the farm, and every time he showed himself they chased him into the woods.

Yesterday marked the seventh summer when I have looked into the woods or well house for Big Red, wondering each time if he had survived his wild life style. I do keep food for him in the well house, but he has to get there in all kinds of weather and compete with all kinds of critters for it, and just plain survive the constant vigilance of being small in a wild world.

Yesterday, well, yesterday, he was on top of the well house, a goodly distance for the wild side, and I was unloading the goat and pig food and day old bread we get. He meowed, and so I went and checked his food bowl. All was well, and I told him so. He meowed again, and I looked right at him.

Now mind you, I had no spare minutes by my watch, only his, but it intrigued me. He seemed closer on the well house than before, and I reached up at him. He let me touch him and start to pet him and leaned hard into my hand. I could not believe it. He did not want me to stop, and I know that he had not been petted for at least seven years.

I had to get ready to go to work and finish the chores, so I finally begged off, but he jumped down and followed me. I watched the dogs carefully. Three of the other cats were there, and he kind of blended in, and if one dog showed an interest I distracted him or her… so he was not chased in that setting. I fed the pigs and goats, and he was right there. I walked up to him, and he did not run, but let me pet him while he watched the dogs. I went to feed the cats, and he came over there, and I put some feed on the ground for him.

It was the strangest behavior in an animal that I have ever seen. He was almost completely tamed in an instant and wanted people. I thought he might be very ill, but he was not. What happened to him after so long? I had barely caught a glimpse of him through the years, and I could never get close. Why did he trust me so now and want to be close and be petted? It was not like he was looking for an opening all those years because I know I tried before I gave up.

I could have stayed there all day getting to know him and encourage him, and I even thought of taking him into the cat trailer, but he had his freedom and had made it, and I hated to take that away just to protect him.

What happens to us sometimes? It is strange and sometimes just unexplainable. We have a life course or a certain belief and then one day, all has changed in that regard. Big Red had turned a corner and wanted people in his life again. He had made that choice, and for the remainder of his years, I hope to give him that feeling again. ” ~Chris