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Daisy Mae, Our Little Flower
February 1, 2007

By Karen Rempel Arthur

It’s 5:30 on a dark winter morning. My husband, Bob, is leaving for work. To his surprise, there’s a scruffy little cat scoffing up birdseed under the feeder. She runs away.

Not long after, our neighbors phoned saying there was a hungry cat at their door. They’d given it a bowl of cream, the only thing in their fridge with cat appeal.

By the time Bob reached our back door, she was sitting there with a plaintive look on her little face. He got a handful of cat chow, left from a cat we’d lost a month earlier, and put it on the verandah. She ran off a few feet, then inched back and inhaled it.

He got more, opened the door and held it out saying, "C’mon in."

My logical response was, "She’s wild. She won’t come in." There are always a few feral cats around our rural location.

Well, call me a liar. She cautiously crept in and while gulping down more chow, then ran back out the door that Bob was holding open. He got more food and she came in again and decided to stay on the spot. Now I could look her over. She was scrawny, dreadfully scrawny and dirty and smelly. How could she have survived the Canadian cold with that thin, wispy fur? Her ears were tender from frostbite. And she was a tortoise shell with yellow eyes.

tortoiseshell
Daisy Mae

We soon realized she wasn’t one of those wild cats; more likely a pet abandoned by cottagers in the fall. I was shocked when I picked her up the first time to find she barely weighed two pounds and I could feel every knobby bone in her body. There was nothing to her and I didn’t know how she was even alive.

On sound advice we beefed up her diet with kitten food and when she was well enough, we got her shots, had her spayed and wormed -- and the poor wee mite was loaded with parasites. A persistent cough took a month to clear up and for the first while, she was so weak that she would walk around a little, then flop wherever she was and fall asleep.

Daisy loved being petted from the beginning and, one evening three weeks later, I saw she wanted to jump up on the chair beside me. I encouraged her and she snuggled up purring noisily with one black paw on my leg. Within days, she had the courage to climb into my lap.

But what a friendly little cat who worked overtime, trying to be very, very good and she would instantly obey the smallest "no." It was a, "Please don’t put me out. I want to stay. I’ll be really good."

She gradually picked up speed and put on weight. Summer came and I noticed she was eating even more than usual -- a regular little pig -- but then that amazing new coat grew in. The wispy stuff was replaced by this lovely thick fur that hints of angora. Her fat tail is a furry wonder, and she is most fastidious with that pelt. Daisy Mae is the cleanest cat around.

Daisy Mae
Fastidious!

Daisy, who we learned from the vet was probably a year to a year and a half old when she arrived, slowly learned to play, something we think she missed out on earlier. Her favorite toys are soft things and though she now moves like a torpedo across the lawn, she is very gentle and sweet. She loves to be hugged and relaxes contentedly when we pick her up, and when she sleeps, she confidently goes off soundly into oblivion -- none of this cat napping with one eye open.

We eventually learned she was living under a cottage a little way off, though we wonder to this day what finally gave her the courage to come to our neighbors’ door, then ours, except that she was in dire straits.

To this day Daisy Mae is the most agreeable cat we’ve ever had. She’s fun, has become quite vocal, and it’s a joy watching this furry wonder, healthy and bright, ripping around in those wonderful cat fits that demand instant action in some direction, any direction, as long as it’s as fast as possible.

Karen Rempel Arthur also wrote A Cat Called Mouse for this website.