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The Sassy Sandpiper: Cats, Colin and Callaloo

By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter

A few days of one thing after another.

It’s been quite the week.

Mama Cat Boa, “high-strung” since weaning her kittens and maybe ticked off because they never left home, had a trying few days. She managed to chew off the “New Skin” liquid bandage I sprayed on her back, her own new skin and all. She scratched wounds over her right eye and behind her ears. She looked like one respectable hellcat  (you don’t want to see who lost), but that’s not the image we’re going for here. Boa couldn’t keep down her special formula dry food. She’d eat and then drink excessively if I didn’t catch her and put away the water dish, only to upheave most of her meal. In chunks.

I thought of crushing her food. Maybe those big bites were too much for her tiny tummy, maybe it hurt, and maybe she drank like a fish to ease the pain.

I’ve been hammering her Science Diet into smaller bits for three days now, monitoring water intake, and putting a scarf or a “collar” made of soft old socks around her neck. The distraction seems comforting somehow, and guess what? Boa is quieter, sleeping more, scratching less, and hasn’t been vomiting.

Tropical Storm Colin bullied its way into town Monday morning. Thunder, pelting rain and gusty wind. Wide-eyed, fluffy-tailed cats. Band after band of rough weather rolled off the Gulf of Mexico; I felt grateful to live on high ground. I’ve been meaning to get a rain gauge. An industrial-sized wheelbarrow was full of rainwater.  I estimate at least a 7” total precipitation here.

I worried about the callaloo seedlings in that merciless downpour.

Let me tell you about callaloo.

A Jamaican food vendor on the Gulfport Waterfront introduced me to these savory leafy greens, also known as amaranth. Honestly, they look like elephant ear plants, and can grow six feet tall. Callaloo has a delicate flavor similar to spinach. Perfect as a side dish, (with, say, curried lima beans and rice) or in salads.

I ordered seeds, which are shiny black, about the size of a monarch butterfly’s eye. No, smaller. They spilled out of the packet, propelled by some static force, and disappeared against the black soil. Maybe 10 days later, crowded seedling clusters emerged in the starter tray. I knew I should get them into the ground before the rains hit, but they were so tiny. I’d let them grow a little more and hope for the best.

The infant callaloo got trounced. I hurried to spoon dirt onto exposed rootlets and straighten silken stem threads and exquisite first leaves. Rain nearly drowned them again.

Granny always said, “You gotta make hay when the sun shines!”

So it is with callaloo. When the sun is shining, it’s transplant time!

Boa Update: Hammering kibble got old fast. How about kitten food? Same brand she and the youngsters ate during pregnancy and weaning: chicken and brown rice. Good for tender tummies. Neckwear optional.

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The Sassy Sandpiper:  Cats, Colin and Callaloo
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The Sassy Sandpiper: Cats, Colin and Callaloo
A few days of one thing after another.
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Tampa Bay Reporter
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