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When I was about 4 years old my life was saved my the family cat.
A little background for this story will put it into a better perstective.
We lived in South Western Montana, which is where I grew up and this story takes place.
My father loved cats and dogs. My mother loved dogs and tolerated cats. I was an adoptive infant and my parents were the best people I've ever known.
When I arrived, the family already had a dog, an English Cocker Spainiel named Mr. Brown, and a cat who's name I don't recall.
I was about a month old when Mom put me in my bassinette and took it out to the clothsline so I could get some summer breeze and sun. As she was hanging up the laundry, the cat, a large male belonging to my Dad, jumped into the bassinette, put both front paws on each side of my face and scratched me deeply and drawing blood.
When Mom heard my screams she grabbed the cat and threw it about 10 yards against a Douglas fir tree in our yard. This stunned the cat and while he was shaking off the impact Mom got the 12 gage shotgun that was kept hung over the back door and let the cat have both barrels.
When Dad came home from work, he was told what "his" cat had done and where it was so he could clean up the mess.
Poor Dad, he had to greive the cat and bear Mom's wrath for the next few weeks.
Living in the mountains of Montana in the 50s was hard, and there were lots of vermin about. Chipmunks, squirrels, pack rats, skunks, etc., so a cat is almost a necessity to help keep these vermin out of the house.
After I turned 4 Dad was allowed to have an "outside" cat. Of course this was only temporary. I haden't sufferd the trauma Mom and Dad had, and didn't really remeber the scratching incident. I loved the kitty and chased it though the house and it allowed me to maul it as children will. It always escaped when I got too rough and then came back for more.
My great-uncle Jim came to live with us around this time and became my de-facto baby sitter when Mom was busy helping Dad build a garage on the weekends.
This particular Saturday, Uncle Jim was thinning brush by the creek that borded the property. It was a large creek, 3-4 feet deep in the center and I loved the water so I asked if I could come and watch Uncle Jim work.
Mom asked Uncle Jim, and he said fine, so off we went to the creek which was approxomatly 100 yard from the house. No one noticed the cat was following at a discreet distance.
Uncle Jim worked for a couple of hours and then went to the house for lunch, forgetting I was with him because I'd wandered up the creek looking for frogs, bug, etc.and the brush was taller than I.
As soon as Uncle Jim came in, Mom asked where I was and then the panic set in. Mom, Dad and Uncle Jim headed for the creek, spread out for the best chance of finding me.
They found me following the cat up a game trail headed back to the house. The cat would run a few feet, stop and call to me, and as soon as I almost caught him, he'd run a little further and call again. The cat was leading me home and away from danger.
Mom cried and Dad was happy that I was ok and "his cat" had saved the day. Mom even forgot that she disliked cats and accepted it into the family.
Uncle Jim was pretty fond of that cat from then on too. Mom had forgiven him as soon as I was safe and sound.
I don't rememeber the cats name, but I do remember him being a great hunter, bringing lots of chipmunks and mice an leaving them by the back door for our approval.
We moved into town about a year later and left the cat with the house and new owners who promised to take good care of him. They appreciated the necessity of having a good mouser in a rural setting.
I still love cats and dogs as did Mom, Dad, and Uncle Jim till the end of their days.