Subplot adds anxiety to a tale of feline felicity


January 04, 1996|By Judy Reilly | Judy Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN WE moved to Carroll a few years ago, we were lonely for the old neighborhood and friends we had left behind. Day after day, we lamented the move to the country, an hour away from the people we loved and who loved us.

Starting over would be harder than we thought.

Then, the September miracle happened. A stray kitten found her way to our doorstep and became attached to us. And we became fond of her -- no small feat for a family that previously had been opposed to cats.

We'd heard all sorts of stories about feline behavior, such as cats' nastiness toward unfamiliar situations, the mischief they could get into, the scratching and clawing that could ruin carpets and upholstery. We never trusted them.

Yet there was something about the sweetness of this particular kitten that none of us could resist. After feeding her our supply of tuna, purchasing a flea collar and taking her to Doc Edwards in Union Bridge for shots and a checkup, we knew this cat, christened Maxine by our daughter, was ours to keep.

She gave us a kitten the following spring, a tomcat named Ernie, and we became cat people like many of our neighbors in Uniontown.

Cats are all over the place here, lying on front porch rockers and on top of picnic tables, running for cover from dogs or the elements to garages and barns, chasing the field mice in the meadows and the squirrels in the trees.

Neighbors ask how the cats are doing, call when they discover one has gone astray and worry when you tell them that a cat needed an emergency trip to the vet.

It was our neighbor, Liz Arthur, on her way home from church one Sunday, who reported that Maxine had been hit by a car. The kids were devastated when they realized that the first pet they had owned was dead.

After a proper burial in the back yard and two weeks of mourning, we went to the Humane Society for another kitten and brought Sylvia home. We thought this would help everyone, including Ernie, who seemed lost without his mother.

Here is where the plot thickens and where we need advice. Sylvia claws the furniture, sometimes forgets where the litter box is, and -- this is the worst part -- she and Ernie refuse to be friends.

She hisses at him, and he is very angry that she has invaded his territory. We've done all that the library books, the Humane Society and the woman at Southern States suggest about successfully introducing the cats to each other, but to no avail. The cats occupy different zones of the house as we try to prevent their paths from crossing. The new kitten is adorable and charming, and Ernie is part of the family, so giving up one of them is not an option now. Help!

Give blood

It's a slow news time, this week after the holidays. The kids are returning, reluctantly, to school, and the rest of us are trying to get back into days of work and routine.

Consider jump-starting your new year, and maybe make good on a resolution, by marking your calendar to donate blood this month.

Stan Holcombe is in charge of the Union Bridge Blood Drive, scheduled for Jan. 15. Drop in at the Community Center on Ladiesburg Road between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and the Red Cross will be on hand to help blood donors.

Information: Mr. Holcombe, 775-2270.

Christmas tree recycling

Taneytown residents can earn free tree seedlings by having their Christmas trees ready for curbside pickup in town Saturday or by taking their trees to the recycling center at Taneytown Memorial Park any time this month.

All trees collected will be ground into mulch. Participants will qualify for coupons that can be redeemed for free seedlings in April, just in time for spring planting.

Make sure your Christmas tree is free of tinsel, ornaments, lights and other decorations.

Gardening tips

Thinking of mulch is an excuse to fantasize about gardens in bloom during these confining winter months. Fantasies are fueled by gardening magazines and books, and the ones I received for Christmas gifts are worth recommending.

"Deep in the Green" is a book of essays by Anne Raver, who grew up on a farm in Carroll. "Mrs. Greenthumbs," by Cassandra Danz, is a helpful and funny guide to year-round gardening. "The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden" by David Hirsch contains plans and advice for edible gardens.

Library story time

The first story time this winter at the Taneytown branch library will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 16.

Children ages 4 to 6 will hear stories from around the world and sing songs and play games. Register early by calling the library at 751-1980.

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