North Dakota Living

Boots in the Country

In 2005, a bitty little kitty came home to my mom and dad’s house. We had always had house cats when I was growing up, which were almost always free kittens from someone’s farm. The previous cat Jed had recently passed away, so when my cousins had another litter for giveaway at their house in the country, my parents picked one up to bring home.

She was a little tortoiseshell-colored spitfire. We named her “Boots,” but usually she was simply called “The Cat.” She was a strange one from the get-go. She was fascinated with running water, unlike most cats, and would splash in the faucet whenever we were brushing our teeth. She was a lurker. It seemed every time we walked into a room, she was already there — lurking, looking at us from behind a stack of books, or from behind the bed, or from the top of a shelf. Sometimes, she would lie docilely next to us on the couch, purring and kneading us with her paws, and then suddenly out of the blue, she would shoot up into the air and take off with a screech in a flash of black and orange fur.

She was born to tease. She loved trying to climb onto the counter right in front of us, knowing she wasn’t supposed to; she loved strutting by the dogs with her tail flicking, knowing they weren’t allowed to harm her; she constantly pestered my mom by carrying clean socks from the laundry room all over the house. She had a knack for finding the cleanest clothes in any room and sleeping on them. Every time someone opened the front door, she would bolt outside. I think she just wanted us to chase her. She always escaped to the rock garden, stopped, and let us catch her to bring her back in.

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Crazy Boots got herself into trouble once or twice. There was the infamous laundry incident, for starters. Remember I told you Boots was fascinated with running water? She often tried to jump into the washing machine. My mom was doing laundry late one night and had already pulled Boots out of the washing machine once. While she was switching a new load of laundry, Boots jumped back into washing machine undetected by my mom, who closed the lid, pushed start, and walked away. A few minutes later, she came back upstairs and heard a funny sound from the washing machine. She realized with a sick feeling that she hadn’t seen Boots since she closed the washing machine door.

She raced over to the laundry machine to push stop, but when she saw the soggy state Boots was in, she couldn’t bring herself to deal with the situation. She shook my dad awake. “Mike, I think I killed the cat!”

My dad roused himself from bed to gently lift Boots out of the washing machine while my poor mother fretted in the background. To their surprise, Boots was stunned, but breathing! Luckily, it was a high efficiency washing machine and therefore didn’t use much water. Also luckily, it hadn’t yet started the spin cycle. [There are so many jokes a person could insert here.] Boots was extra crazy after that…

But her fur was also extra soft and fluffy for a long while.

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She and my mom had a funny relationship. Boots knew my mom was the most likely one to feed her and would follow her all over the house. She sat patiently outside my mom’s bedroom door for hours at night, waiting for her chance to bolt inside. She was naughty and exasperating, but I think my mom was secretly pretty attached to her. So when she got the news last year that Boots, at 9 years old, had developed an untreatable medical condition that would not allow her to control her bladder anymore, she had a difficult choice to make. Boots couldn’t remain a house cat; but she was still relatively young and healthy and no one wanted to put her down. Mom decided ultimately to send her to the farm for a new life, but it wasn’t without some concern. Boots had never lived in the country before. Would she survive? Would she make it through the winter? Would she get along with the other farm cats? It seemed better than the alternative, though, so early last fall she was transported up to the farm to begin her second life.

It turns out, all those fears were completely unfounded. Boots has absolutely flourished. Not only did she survive the winter, she did so with style. She is as fit and in shape as ever. Her fur is still soft and fluffy. And she’s still up to all her old tricks:

She lurks- EVERYWHERE. All over the farm yard. It’s pretty creepy, actually.

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She still teases the dogs.

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Who retaliate from time to time. Don’t worry, she isn’t getting hurt. I think she likes it, actually, because shortly after this picture was taken she walked by Scout again, flicking her tail and taunting her:

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Boots also has no fear whatsoever of horses, though she had never seen a horse before in her life. She prowls through their pasture and rubs up on their legs, which they tolerate patiently. She’s probably trying to figure out how to tease them:

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And now, rather than bolting out of the house to the rock garden like she did in her city life, instead she tries to bolt into the farmhouse anytime someone opens the front door. Once she makes it successfully inside, she usually chooses a place to lurk until someone spots her and kicks her back out.

Yes, Boots was made for the country. I like seeing the familiar flash of black and orange fur all over the farmyard. I like the way she is bursting with personality and makes no apologies. She’s always loved action, and the farm is full of it.

Her second life here seems to be right where she belongs.

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