Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hazel, an original Apifera cat

In 2004, when we first moved to the farm, a little orange ball of fluff crept out of the hay bales. That was just the beginning of my life with more cats than I ever thought I would cohabit with.

That orange fluff ball was later named Angustifolia aka Gus, and he was from the first feral litter of Mama Kitty and Big Tony. There were five in that litter, and two remain–Hazel, pictured here, and Mr. Plum.

That first year and and a half, I actively trapped cats, both kittens and strays. All were taken into one of my wonderful local vets who always gave me a fair price for all the spaying and neutering. And, thanks to this blog, and the many followers and cat lovers, I was able to raise most of the money to have that all accomplished. It took a lot of time.

That first litter consisted of Mr. Plum, Quince, Hazel, Gus, and tiny little Sweet Pea. Gus disappeared about a year ago, which broke my heart as not only was he the last buddy for Hazel, he was a the first cat I met at Apifera.

Hazel was always buddies with the wonderful, much loved, bionic man cat, Samuelle Noel, who probably had the most vet care of any creature I've had-again, followers helped me though it. In the end, he had cancer, but I was with him and cared for him until the end. So after Sam died, Hazel was left alone in the barn. The bright side of that is it really tendered her up, now she comes out to me when I'm there, and asks for petting. She's a tiny thing, not much bigger than Itty Bitty.

Tomentosa is our two timing cat. He is part long hair, he comes for dinner for a day, then leaves, and always comes back brushed and healthy a week later. He must be 12+ now. I'm always so happy to see him, and he seems to feel that way about me, I must say.

After that first litter in 2004, Mama Kitty had two more litters. One litter she amazingly carried down to a nearby farm, and those kittens lived there. But the litter she had under bramble outside by Old Barn infiltrated into Apifera. Of that litter-Pumpkin Head, Little Orange, Blackberry, Teasel, and Fig–only Little Orange remains, and he lives with Mr. Plum.

Mr. Plum and Orange allow me to pick them up and hold them, They are fed on the deck and then spend their days in the front gardens or under the lilac trees.

Mama Kitty died last year, the end of an era for sure. I tried to capture her again, as I knew she was sick with a huge growth, but after two weeks I just couldn't get her, even though she continued to eat on the porch. It had originally taken me two years to capture her back in the '04 cat era. But remarkabley, she climbed into one of the baskets on the front porch, and died, all curled up in sleep. This was so touching for me, as she was the only cat that was still truly semi ferel, and I knew she would most likely wander off and die. I took it as a 'thank you' for helping so many my kin. SHe is buried in the front gardens, where her two remaining sons nap.

ANd of course, we had many stray show up and never leave-all brought meaning to my days, some had a bigger impact than others: the incredible BW; the theater cat Phinnias T. Barnum who had to leave for his show; Samuelle Noel; Miss Prairie Pussy Toes; Mr. Brandshaw who ruled the hay barn but in the end was such a lover; and the cat I only knew for an hour.

Big Tony, who spread his seed well lives in the house, an old man now. He is allowed bed privileges, couch duty, counter top eating-he lives like a grandpa King. Itty Bitty also has indoor privileges and she and Martyn are dating. Peaches is allowed in for short spurts but she lives very independently of all the animals, preferring me.

Oddly, we haven't had any new strays come in the last couple years or more. I don't know why. Although I truly believe it is because of two things-one, the neighbors and I did a lot of trapping/spaying/neutering; and two, I don't think I've resonated a call out to the universe for more to come. In time.