You can't choose your own relatives

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, December 4, 2003

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
My mother has turned into the crazy cat lady that you see from time to time on the television news.
I don't mean that she has been the subject of a televised investigation, I mean that she has been overrun by felines.
It happens frequently to her when the weather turns off a little cool.
She has a ritual she goes through.
First, all the plants have to be moved from their summer location under the big oak trees around her home into the greenhouse we children built for her.
This takes her the better part of two days. She has a lot of plants, and they have to be placed in the building in alphabetical order, or perhaps it is in descending order of age, I always forget.
As she spends that time outdoors, mama will notice that the birds have very little natural forage left. To remedy that, she will put out seed and usually leftover breadcrumbs and such.
That is where the cats come in. Well, I guess they could show up to cull out the bird population, but I think it is the scraps they are after.
Now, mama has her own house cat that seldom slips out of doors. There are a lot of coyotes around, and mama is sure the coyotes would eat her cat if it were left outside.
Believe me, there are some things no self-respecting coyote would tackle, and this furry devil is one of them. Even if the coyote tried to bother the cat, well, her disposition would quickly break that canine from sucking eggs. It would never look at another cat again. Of course, that is because its eyes would be scratched out.
But the stray cats, or those that live close by and are dissatisfied with their accommodations, come to mama's in droves.
It starts with one, but of course when it has had plenty of food, it starts into season, and that draws about 11,000 other cats, and before long, mama has names and bowls for each and every one of them.
It's enough to make we children insane, because she talks about all of the cats like they are close personal friends.
That would be ok, but I don't want close personal friends that shed on my car and use the bushes for a litter box.
And then one or more has kittens, and they are like long-lost grandchildren.
Sheesh, by the time the weather starts to warm up, the place looks like Noah's boat went aground nearby.
But luckily, just as they appear with the autumn, when warm weather starts, the kitties start moving off to greener fields. We never know where they go to, or why. They never write or call.
But by then it is time to relocate the plants again, and they have multiplied over the winter, and mama is busy with them.
And when my patience with cats and gardenias is wearing thin, I remember there are only so many winters, so many springs.
That makes it all right again, knowing how she enjoys the cats and their antics, the plants and their multiplications.
It may be a genetic thing, too. I noticed a stray cat in the yard the other day when I was moving the geraniums in off the porch. That cat looked thin, so I put out the leftover turkey.
Connie Nowlin is managing editor of the Atmore Advance and may be reached at 368-2123 or email at

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