August 1, 2010 1:35:00 AM
Charles'' mother lived in the same house where she had raised her four boys down in Kemper County. After a few years, the feral cat population built up to 20 or so cats. Though she liked cats, this number was more than she wanted or could afford to feed. All the cats were as wild as jack rabbits. One day she asked Charles if he and his brother could get rid of them. "Boys, you can do it any way you want, but don''t kill ''em."
The brothers found a burlap sack, fitted it over a hole in the side of the barn where the cats hung out; they cranked open a can of sardines. All the cats bolted right out the hole and into the burlap sack. They cinched the noose and tossed the bundle of squalling, kicking cats into the back of the pickup.
Not sure what to do with the cats, they drove down a gravel road where they came up on a farmer. Charles hollered out, "Mister, you need some barn cats?" The man said, "A few."
"We''ll get the bag of cats and dump them out and let you pick out the ones you want."
The farmer agreed, and the brothers gingerly got the bag of squirming cats out of the pickup and carried them to the barn.
Quickly, they opened the bag and all the cats scrambled out and headed to the four corners. Some were climbing up the walls and, before you know it, not a cat was in sight.
The farmer said, "Well, I didn''t want all them cats!"
"Sorry, Mister," said Charles. "I guess they were pretty wild."
Charles returned home and assured his mother the cats had a good home and not one of them was hurt.
I know how fast cats can build up on you. We have two cats. Little Jane is a 10-year-old neutered male who was mis-sexed early on. We refer to him as "her" just to avoid confusion. Jack is about 10, as well, and was born deaf. At first, the two cats would fight and Sam would ask, "What can two old neutered male cats possibly have to fight about?"
Then we found "Boat Kitty." We coaxed him out of the boat shed with food, and when he joined the family we re-named him Stratos, after the boat. Stratos turned out to be a traveling man and later moved on.
Recently we were offered a kitten by a family member but decided that two''s company and three''s a crowd, so we have declined all offers of the feline species ''cause you know ... once the cat''s out of the bag ...
However, if anyone would like a kitten, please e-mail me, because a precious family member has acquired four kittens, a tender heart and a cat allergy.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.