They say a cat has nine lives. If that’s true, standby, because this one’s first is a doozy!
Wait, let’s start at the beginning. A few years ago at my high school reunion, I became reacquainted with a classmate, Marcia, whom I knew only casually in school. Since then, Patty and I have become good friends with her and husband Rob, a retired physician. I quickly learned that Marcia, or Marmee, as she is affectionately known by her grand kids, is by nature a very considerate and compassionate person when it comes to other people and animals. Her menagerie of 2 dogs and 5 cats at home would certainly attest to the latter.
Enter Pinot Peanut Potter, the little scamp (above) who has won the hearts of not just a few folks. Look at that face and tell me she doesn’t already own a piece of yours. But how she and Marmee came together (and then apart) is the real story.
There is a hillside vineyard near Salem, Oregon that is part of the state’s wine industry. As fate would have it, it is also home to a feral cat population, mostly due to inconsiderate pet owners just abandoning their cats. As you might expect, cats tend to procreate. And so it was from within those grape laden vines that Pinot, as she will heretofore be known, made her grand entrance. The offspring of a wily, seasoned, but otherwise unapproachable mother cat, Pinot was not going to be content with a precarious life in the wild. No sir, she had grand plans of her own. Someday, she was going to be someone’s pampered pussy cat, living in high style.
As a new litter of 7 kittens suddenly emerged from the vineyard, trailing behind was a teeny little waif toddling up to join the crowd. This was Pinot, and she was introducing herself to the world in her very own fashion. She may have been late to the party, but she was definitely going to be the belle of the ball. Unfortunately, as the obvious runt of the litter, she was going to have difficulty avoiding the raptors and coyotes roaming those hillsides. In fact, her diminutive, six-ounce stature pretty much ensured she would probably not even survive for long. Realizing this, the vineyard owners brought her inside for special care.
But since they were breeders of Keeshond dogs as well, they could not keep her permanently. After many feedings, a “hearty” weight gain of a couple more ounces and a successful check-up at the vet, they put out an email announcing her “availability.”
Their email immediately plucked at Marmee’s fragile heartstrings. Thus, Pinot quickly found herself temporarily domiciled with Marcia and Rob. Marcia next set to work getting the word out about Pinot needing a permanent home. But after much time and great angst, there was scant reply. It was then, while Marcia was relating her frustration on the phone with her daughter, the miracle happened. Blessed with the same sense of pathos as her mom (and influenced in no small part by the picture), she consulted with her family, which already had a dog and two cats, and a deal was struck. If Marcia could get Pinot to them in Dallas, Texas from Portland, Oregon, they would be Pinot’s forever home.
Now try to imagine how you would feel if you were a mother putting your still very young child on an airplane for the first time, by his or her self, trusting the airline to look out for them. With one connecting flight to boot! That’s similar to what Marcia was experiencing the morning she arrived at the Delta Airlines freight counter to check little Pinot in for a Portland to Dallas flight. Befitting Pinot’s vulnerable state, Marcia had provided a comfortable, well-supplied travel crate, complete with a mini-litter box. With assurances from Delta that all would be well, Marmee fought back tears as she watched Pinot disappear down the conveyor with a look back, as if to say, “But I thought you were my mommy?” As Marmee watched through the glass at the loading process, she noticed the all the workers (including the big, burly ones) putting their fingers in the crate to reassure the little kitty. Yes, there was Pinot, working the crowd for love even in this perilous situation.
Back home now, and apprehensively tracking every mile of the flight on Delta’s website, Marcia was horrified to learn that Pinot had not made the flight to Dallas after the connection in Salt Lake City! Many phone calls ensued, mostly to answering machines and unknowing agents, but she finally uncovered the cause. The plane Pinot was scheduled on did not have working oxygen in the cargo area. She needed to be placed on a later flight. The other problem was, that flight would not arrive until 11:35 PM and the freight terminal in Dallas closes at midnight. Pinot would have to spend the night alone in a terminal holding area if the flight was late. Marcia’s son-in-law assured her that would not be the case, even if he had to camp out in the terminal.
Fortunately for the kitten, not to mention Marcia’s nerves, the flight was on time and the son-in-law was there to pick her up, where she pleasantly surprised him by showing no signs of ill repair after the 14 hour ordeal! Just another day at the farm as far as Pinot was concerned (minus the coyotes, of course.)
Once in her new home and displaying the moxie of a full-grown cat, Pinot promptly won over the entire household. But then you already knew that, didn’t you?
And here is Pinot Peanut Potter showing absolutely no signs of PTSD!
This is a story with a happy ending. There are thousands that do not end well. Marcia sent me an email that I would like to share with you here. It is a frank accounting of what happens when irresponsible people just decide to stop being pet owners. I hope you will read it.
“Pinot Peanut Potter was born on a hillside in a vineyard south of Salem Oregon in a small town called Rickreall. The vineyard raises Pinot Noir grapes for which Oregon has become justly famous, and on its grounds, Shannon (my friend and breeder of my dogs
Twinkle and Lili) lives in a small and charming farm house. On top of the hill in the vineyard, live the owners of the vineyard, Brian and Theresa, who in addition running the vineyard, work with Shannon to breed beautiful Keeshond dogs such as my two.
All 3 of these people love animals and are compassionate beyond that of most. Their grounds are full of feral cats…many dropped by stupid people, to be killed by coyotes, or owls or hawks (unless they learn very quickly how to survive and hide). They have an unused greenhouse on the property that they have turned into a shelter for these unfortunate creatures, and continuously do their best to trap and neuter both males and females. The greenhouse has water, and kitty beds , and requires over 80lbs. of cat food a month to keep everyone fed. They deal with multiple litters of kittens each year, and once found, when the kittens are weaned, survivors are brought in, socialized, and then taken to a shelter where Brian makes a donation, they will be neutered, and everyone prays they will find forever homes.
Pinot’s Mom has avoided capture multiple times and will let no one near her. She is all black, and Pinot was one of 8 kittens in what Shannon thinks was her 3rd litter this year. Though Mom is wily about capture, she is smart and figured out that if she brings her kittens near to B and T’s house, they will get food and care. One litter she deposited in a dog house, and Pinot’s group she put under the curtain of an ornamental Japanese Maple right near their back deck.
The kittens progress was monitored from afar, and when they began to venture out from under the tree, to eat from a bowl of kitten food put close by, it was time to try to corral them . Brian and Shannon counted , and decided there were 7, then something else came out from under the shelter of the tree. This little creature was so tiny they didn’t think it was a kitten, as it was 1/4th the size of the others…… They knew it couldn’t be a mouse, and when they began gathering up they brood, they found it was itty bitty 6 oz. Pinot. Brian, allergic as he is to cats (so is Theresa), brought her inside, thinking she would never survive without special help. He fed her at first with an eyedropper, and let her ride around the house on his shoulder while he and Theresa downed allergy meds.
Brian and Theresa were smitten, but certainly not able to keep her, and housed her (in their house) in the biggest large dog crate they owned. She gained 2 ounces and passed her baby check at the vet. Shannon was smitten too, but with 3 cats, 6 dogs and litters of puppies to care for several times a year in her small house, couldn’t keep her either. The vet predicted she would always remain small, so she was not suitable to release into the vineyard, as she would be easy prey for the raptors and coyotes. This is when Shannon put out the email and picture of Pinot asking for help to find her a special, INDOOR forever home, and I became involved.