Down on the Farm / Up at the Cabin

Tippie the Bathtub Cat


When Monica moved to SkyMar Ranch, she understood that farm pets would be helpful. Mocha, a lab/shepard mix, could hardly believe her good fortune being able to roam the farm without a leash or tether. Four kittens – each named by a different grandchild – were slowly given greater outdoor freedom as they grew.

It was very sad when the siblings, Shelley and Oliver, died from feline leukemia (passed on by their mother). Their funerals were well attended.

Cuddles and Tippie – also siblings – were healthy and happy, lively and curious. Mice were fun to chase. Goats would chase cats (not so fun). Chickens would peck at you if you got too close. Gopher holes could fascinate for hours. And in the house there was always a warm, sunny cushion to have a thorough wash and a comfy nap.

Before long, Tippie (named for her blond tippie toes and her blond tippie tail) demonstrated a complete understanding of her job. Headless mice began decorating the driveway. A well-placed gall bladder squished wetly under a bare human foot. Dried vomit marked Monica’s favorite chair. But those especially active critters – the birds, chipmunks, once even a bunny – deserved special treatment.

Monica’s shower curtain was always kept closed (due to the circa 1972 bathtub – robin’s egg blue). Tippie discovered that rodents could not escape the slippery tub walls; birds could not fly through the closed shower curtain. Tippie could play with her new friends for hours until their poor little hearts finally gave out.

Claudia’s heart was subjected to Tippie’s attacks once or twice. Tippie liked to hide in the tub and when Claudia walked by, Tippie would launch herself at the curtain scaring the bejesus out of Claudia. When Claudia explained her near heart attack to Monica, Monica just replied, “Oh yeah. She does that.”

Good to know.

Now Monica is one tough cookie. She will scoot under a tractor in the mud to connect the PTO shaft. She will take apart the side panel of a full, gloppy manure spreader to reattach the drive belt. She will reach elbow-deep into a heifer’s birth canal to help deliver a calf.

But she doesn’t like snakes and she doesn’t like rodents.

Monica got pretty used to the bathtub presents left by Tippie. She’d simply pluck the tail feathers or tiny rodent pieces from the tub before stepping in. Not a big deal. However one day, Mocha was sniffling and snuffling at the shower curtain. Expecting the usual, Monica casually slid back the curtain …

Monica’s ear-piercing shriek brought Claudia running to the bathroom, passing Mocha scampering the other way. What on earth???? There Monica stood at the bathtub, still clutching the shower curtain. Both ladies stared, dumbstruck, at the eight-inch long roof rat laying dead on the tub floor. Beady black eyes staring lifelessly.

For weeks, Monica carefully entered the bathroom and pulled the curtain back ever-so-slowly. Fortunately, Tippie returned to hunting more reasonably-sized prey.