The Monarch's Flight

I opened my wings to start my journey;
thousands of miles to fly home;

I began in the North, feeding on a friend's
ripe, pink milkweed.
He grew it just for me and my kin.
Strong and brave, I rose above the garden;
Heading South for the ocean.
My gossamer wings stretched out - orange, black and gold;
Shining in the sun as it warms my perfect body.
A gentle, southern breeze carried me high;
over the factories and homes below.
I felt weary crossing the blue mountains,
and stopped for energy.
Food was sparse as I lit on dying plants.
Hungry, I continued over the pines
against a strong, western wind.
The rain beat me down.
I hovered on a kind oak leaf until the storm grew weak,
Again the sun warmed my body.
Yet, I couldn’t take flight.
A wing was torn.
I twirled downward as I fell in flight;
landing on a flat wooden branch.
Time passed, precious time until
a large shadow blocked the sun from my sight.
I am no coward, but, dared not look at the final blow.
No, I was lifted, moving, but, without my wings;
Without a pulse of my body!
The grass moved under me;
I watched as dirt rushed beneath my spent self.
The way is clear before me;
but, the clear, smooth wall does not give way.
Lifted up, I am laid gently down past the wall; my torn wing useless.
The shadow touches my broken body, as I shudder.
For frightful moments, I’m pinned and with no way to escape.
Miracle of miracles!
I am freed and set on a ripe, fragrant milkweed.
I drink deep.
Once full, I try my wings.
I am able to soar with no delay!
The shadow serves those who fly wild, I do believe,
It has made me whole again!
I carry on - knowing I am cared for;
as my journey continues . . ..

My journey is blessed . . .

Photo from The Houston Museum of Natural History / PhotoArt by KY Cady


Jade - The Blind Cat of the Chases (from The Abbottsford Cats)

All was darkness when I felt my Mama’s rough tongue helping me into the world. She pushed me to her milk and I felt warm, delicious liquid in my tiny belly. My brother and two sisters scrambled for their portion as we lay protected in her embrace. I felt the energy flow as we ate and fell asleep to my Mama’s constant purr. It was like the sound of love to me. I never wanted to leave her side.  Yet, she would move us in her great jaws, picking me up like a little sack. I never protested, because she always found a better place, where, as I grew I could play with the others but still hear her purr.

My brother was about my size and we tussled mightily as we grew. He would try to sneak up behind me, but, although I couldn’t see, I always heard the titter of his tiny paws rustling through the stones as he prepared to pounce.

Mama taught me everything. She told me I was different, but, although I was born blind, I would be stronger for it. She explained what shapes were by licking my head for a circle. She licked my tail to show me a straight line. She would drag me in her mouth to feel the rocks, grass and pavement (where I never was to go). When we lay in the heat, she explained how our beautiful star would warm our bodies during the day when we slept. It was almost as pleasurable to lay in the sun as it was in my Mama’s arms. Sometimes I wouldn’t stir until my brother would pounce on me and scold that it was dinnertime.

Hunting was another thing entirely. I was a natural. Mama brought small insects and rodents already dead to us to sniff and play with. My sense of smell was quickly developing. I soon was able to figure out what she was bringing home when she was some distance away. My brother and sister would always ask, “What is it?” I was never wrong. I could hear her coming way before the others, too. When they would still be sleeping in the brush, I would hear her steadily trot through the grasses. I was always wide awake when she arrived.

One day she didn’t come back. I waited while the others slept. When they woke, we all sat and cried. It was deep in the night – cold and damp. No matter how we huddled together, we still shivered. I would jump at every sound, but, it was never her. Then we all heard it. Something or things were crashing through the bushes. There was a jumble of noise, like crows all cawing at once. Then the noise stopped.

The next day, Mama was still gone. We all ventured out, trying to find her. Nothing close to her sweet smell came to us, but, a very tantalizing scent was right in our path. My brother and sisters ran to the food as fast as they could. I stood back and heard a clanging sound and their pitiful mews. They told me they were unable to get out of the cave they had ran into. They couldn’t get through the cold walls. They said there were openings, but, none were large enough. I cried with them and waited until I heard something rumbling through the bushes again.

The high-pitched sounds returned, although they didn’t sound as dangerous. They were cooing and making mews like my brother and sisters. I didn’t make a move. I hid in the bushes as I heard my brothers and sisters leave with the sounds. I found myself totally alone. I was so afraid. In my darkness, I heard and could smell everything. I couldn’t sleep. My stomach was empty. I finally cried myself into a deep, fitful sleep.

When I woke, they were back! I was with my Mama and my brothers and sisters! The crashing noises where everywhere, but, Mama was calm. She let me know the ‘humans’ had taken her. The ‘humans’ were caring for her. She had a lot of experience with these creatures and, although, I didn’t understand, I was content - happy to be drinking my Mama’s warm milk again. She told me to listen carefully to the sounds they made. If I heard loud and angry sounds, I should hiss and spit. If they were cooing sounds, I could cautiously listen. But, I hissed and spat no matter what sounds they made.

We were there for a long time it seemed; until one day my Mama was taken away. I looked for her all over the small area I was confined in. I knew my brother and sisters were doing better with the ‘humans’, but, I didn’t like them no matter how hard I tried. They didn’t smell or sound good to me. They didn’t seem to want to touch me, and made guttural sounds when they were near me. I would hiss and spit with all my might. They could never catch me.

Then the day came. I felt the warmth of the sun, and grass under my feet. I lifted my head as high as I could and took a deep, long draw of fresh air filled with scents of the woods. They were very close. I learned a lot during the time my Mama was caring for me with the humans. She told me stories of how to navigate in the woods if I ever found myself there again. Here was my chance. I ran so fast, I could barely feel the grass on my paws. I heard nothing following at first, and then, in the distance, a wail. They realized I was gone.

Nothing could stop me from looking for Mama. They were hunting through the brush, but, I had found a deep, empty rabbit burrow and heard their steps nearby. I hunkered down real low.  Soon, they gave up.

I never found my Mama. I looked for two seasons, through the cold season and the warm season. I learned all the pathways of the woods and bog I found myself in by smell and touch. Even when I was sleeping my senses were alert. It was during the second warm season when I found the Place of Bones. I heard small footsteps of a human. I reeled backward as the scent of a cat newly dead, entered my nostrils. The human was speaking low and sounded sad as I heard her move the earth. She said some words and then left. I went to the newly dug earth and smelt the cat’s body. It was an old cat, I could smell his age. It was a long time before I moved. I hadn’t been near a cat, alive or dead, for a very long time.  

I made my burrow under a rock in that place, and listened as the human with the soft, calm voice would come every now and then. Sometimes she carried a cat and buried her. Others times she would bring lavender flowers and sage and lay it on the graves. I was never afraid of this human. One time, I followed her footsteps as she left. She lived in the wooden cave I had found months before. It was an easy run from the Place of Bones. Many trails led directly to and from both places. I learned every one of them.

One day, after a time of hunger, I let my senses lapse. I was head-down, eating a mole I had just caught when I felt my body lifted and squeezed. The dogs that roamed the area were usually easy to outwit, but, here I was, in the jaws of one! I went limp for a moment and the dog relaxed. I twisted with all my might and grabbed his nose with both front claws. He yelped so loud I thought if there were dead dogs around, they would jump out of their graves. When he screamed, I wiggled free of his grip and ran zig zag across the bogs so fast he was still pawing at his bloodied nose before he knew I was gone!

With that event behind me, I took greater care than ever. I learned where the easiest trees to climb were situated. I practiced every which way until I knew the paths by touch. I was fast, lean, and my senses were at their best. I grew a reputation that I savored. I was Jade, the Blind Cat of the bog known as the Chases! 

'Jade' by KY Cady @2014 (from "The Abbottsford Cats - Shandor and the Bellwether Trail" (available 2019)

An Ordinary Man

He was an ordinary man by most standards - not too young or old; not one to boast or one to hold back when affronted. He liked to go to the gym and enjoyed going out with his friends, just like anyone else.

What set him apart was his love for the community cats. He watched them as the female ferals struggled each year with new litters. He saw them caring for their kits, and he watched them grow and scramble for safety and food, only to have more litters the next season. He wanted to help them.

He set food out at at first. The cats and kittens were cautious, but, soon stood in the shadows until he came everyday and placed water and food below the tree in his yard. They trotted up eagerly for their meals and always glanced over their shoulders in nervous thank yous as he sat on the porch watching them. He understood and accepted their entreaties with an attempt to do more.

As a child of the Internet, he quickly learned about Trap/Neuter/Return... the best way to care for a colony of feral cats. He found a local, friendly TNR feral cat group that helped spay and neuter the community cats for a decent fee that he could afford. Things were going well. He had gotten into a routine and enjoyed knowing he was making a difference in the lives of critters he would never truly know. 

Then one day it started. 

Rocks were pelted against his windows. Never one to cower, he went to his porch and saw no one. The perpetrators had fled without a trace. He walked outside to the window and saw it was cracked; an additional expense - but, he would have it fixed by the weekend.

The next day he took the smallest kitten of a feral he called Pearl to be 'spayed'. The little girl did very well and after watching her carefully for a night, he returned her to Pearl. He fixed the damaged window that weekend and thought no more of it.

It was after school on the following Tuesday the second incident happened. A young mother,in her twenties was passing his house with her two young children. The boy and girl were about five and six. A dog followed the woman closely. It was a hound. Hounds are known to chase cats; it's their way, and this hound was no different. He saw the little kitten that had just been spayed and began running after her. 

The woman saw her children following the dog into the man's yard. He thought she would call her dog off, as he walked outside to see what the commotion was. Instead she yelled, "Kill the cat! Get him! Kill him."

He couldn't believe his eyes. But, knowing his littlest was in grave danger, he spoke up quickly. "Hey, get off my property! Get your dog out of here!"

The woman looked at him and laughed. The kids laughed with her and the dog caught up to the kitten. The man ran down the steps and approached the hound. The dog backed off just as he was about to grab the kitten's tail. Barking loudly, he turned on the man. The children ran behind their mother's legs.

The woman was furious that her blood lust found no release. "Leave my dog alone!" She screeched, putting her hands on the children's heads. The man looked at her long and hard. 

"Lady, I feel sorry for you... but, more sorry for your children. Get out of here, and never step on my property again." The woman gave him the finger in front of her boy and girl and hastily walked away; hound following obediently.

The man went to the back of his home and found Pearl. She was anxiously licking her kitten and looked up at the man with wide, trusting eyes. He felt her gratitude, but, worried deeply. What was happening? He had never faced a person so angry and aggressive towards a helpless animal before, encouraging violence in front of children.

It was a mean season. He knew his small act of kindness would soon test his mettle.. but, he had no doubt in his perseverance. He walked inside his home.  Next weekend, a taller fence would be built.