From Christina: It’s my pleasure (I think) to have Liza O’Connor as a special guest today as part of a Father’s Day weekend celebration. She’s here to tell us about her “feral father”. Enjoy!
Liza O’Connor—Yes, I was raised by feral cats.
However, I loved my Feral Dad Cat (FDC) and wish to share a few valuable lessons I learned from him:
1) There’s no shame in frugality
My dad was the cheapest cat I ever knew. He’d buy large bags of bread, past the expiration date, meant to be sold as chicken food. To ensure humans didn’t buy it for consumption, someone would jab their hand in the middle of each loaf. While Dad once retrieved a partially eaten grapefruit from the trash and made me scrape all the flesh out better, thankfully, he allowed me to toss out the bread slices that had been finger stabbed. Even feral cats have their limits of cheapness.
2) Expect to work for anything you get and value what you earn.
Like all small children wandering through a store full of toys or candy, I would ask my feral cat if I could have something. He’d say ‘not unless you have the money to buy it.” That would provoke me to follow behind him saying ‘cheap, cheap, cheap’ like a baby chick. You might think it unsafe for a baby chick to taunt a feral cat, but he just laughed at me. However, I NEVER got the item I asked for.
Finally, after six months of chirping, I took his advice and asked for a job. He grew flowers for a living and it turns out even tiny children can carry small potted plants from one place to another. (I was paid a penny for relocating a pot to wherever my dad or grandmother said to put it.) Trudging through a hot humid greenhouse during summers was hard work. I soon learned that money could be had, but it didn’t come easy, and thus I became very selective on what I bought with my money.
3) Love can be said without words
My Dad Cat worked all the time, but since he worked ‘at home’ in the green houses, when I tired of carting pots, I would crawl upon his big foot and wrap myself around his leg and let him cart me about while I bonded with his ankle. He soon nicknamed me ‘Bug’. When I challenged my new name, he said it was short for ‘Sweet potato bug”. I loved sweet potatoes, so I became ‘Bug’. Even as an adult, he called me that. It was his way of saying he loved me. Because, let’s be frank, you have to truly love a person to let them sit on your foot while you drag them about as you try to do your work.
4) Be adventurous and brave
My feral dad cat had no sense of safety precautions. NONE. He once let me climb into the bucket of his tractor so he could carry me about. (I had gotten too old for his foot; I was about twelve). I get in the bucket, he says something, but I can’t hear him over the noisy tractor. So I look over the top to ask him what he said—just as he raised the bucket. Split my chin wide open. BTW: He’d tried to tell me to hold on tight because if I fell out of the bucket, he wouldn’t know and I’d be run over. (And still he was going to let me do this.)
He once had me walk the 6” beam across the top of the green house, dragging along thin rope, so he could attach it to the heavy plastics and pull it over the beams, creating a new roof for the greenhouse. If I had fallen, it would have been a 30’ drop.
Each summer we would go to Buffalo River. We couldn’t afford a raft, so, he taught us to ‘walk the rocks’ in the rapids. (You keep your feet out in front and walk over the rocks you meet as the water rushes you downstream.)
Having survived these adventures, I learned not to fear danger, which explains why I kayak, raft, fly planes, hand-glide, sky-dive, scuba dive, shark dive etc.
These are just a few things my feral cat dad taught me. I could go on for pages. Yes, he was a flawed parent, but you don’t have to be perfect to be greatly loved by your kittens. You just have to love them and give them moments of happiness. And that he did.
Love you feral Dad Cat!
Having been raised by feral cats, Liza is a certifiable nut. She has no manners, loves to make people laugh, and works very hard to make you laugh.
You can find her books at Amazon.
Liza O’Connor was recently featured in an Author “Quick Chat” at ABC Author Book Chat. Check it out!