Story Tools

Date of Issue: August 06, 2008

A lady, a tramp, a gypsy and a fire

Lady and Tramp. Islander Photos: Courtesy Barbara Parkman

Good can come out of events that can seem overwhelming.

I had to move from my nice beach duplex - a place that I said I would only leave feet first. I had fantastic neighbors, the beach, lots of living space, a garage and budget-pleasing rent. My 92-year-old mother and I moved to the apartment in 1996 from Alexandria, Va., after I retired and sold my house.

The duplex in which we lived and five others in the area, were being sold. So a few of my neighbors and I found other residences right away.

My new duplex is three miles south, but still in Holmes Beach, and I love it. But I was concerned about leaving three feral cats - Gypsy, Lady and Tramp.

Gypsy, a beautiful but skittish calico, had deposited four kittens in my front bushes several years earlier. I kept one kitten, which I named “Angel.” Gypsy, the first feral I spotted wandering in the neighborhood, was so alone. Lady and Tramp showed up and were very close, but chased Gypsy, who ran whenever she saw them.

Eventually Gypsy started coming to the back door of my apartment to get away from them and very soon, I lured her into the house. She wouldn’t let me touch her and she came and went as she wished, but she spent most nights inside. Gypsy is trap-wise, so I couldn’t catch her.

I managed to trap Lady. I then let her out in my privacy fenced side yard along with a dish of tuna, which she ignored, and then she disappeared.

Next I trapped Tramp and kept him inside for a few days. A puddle in the middle of my bed caused me to let him out. Tramp hung around until night, had a fight with a neighborhood cat and disappeared.

My daughter Terry, son-in-law Mike and granddaughter Lauren rented a lovely Holmes Beach duplex with a huge, fenced backyard, where their lab and three cats could play.

One afternoon, their lanai caught fire and burned to the ground. Their kitchen and the other half of the duplex were damaged. But people and pets were safe.

After the fire, I inquired of Mike Norman, the rental agent of the 75th street duplex that had remained empty, if Terry and family could rent it while their place was being restored.

With the owners’ permission and because the house was “as is”, they had the same low rent that I had paid, and their pets were welcome. Gypsy, who hadn’t been seen for several months, showed up and Terry started feeding her.

One day, when I was visiting, Gypsy saw me and stayed close, so, most mornings I went over to feed her and sit with her for a while. In a few weeks, Tramp returned. How do animals find their way back?

The gas, the inconvenience and wanting her home with me caused me to inquire of the vet for a tranquilizing pill. One day I got her into the house, she ate the food with the pill to no effect - she was as elusive as ever.

Several of us in the home joined in to catch her with quilts, but no luck. Eventually Gypsy ran into a covered litter box, I slapped a towel over the front and my son-in-law poured her, dirty kitty litter and all, into the carrying case that I held on end.

Gypsy is now happy at home with Angel, Tinkerbelle, my Maltese, and me. She will now be an indoor cat.

As for Lady, I don’t know where she is. If she is in your neighborhood, please take her into your heart and feed her.

Barbara Parkman is an author and member of Gulf Coast Writers who lives in Holmes Beach. Her first children’s book, will be released in September. She can be reached by calling 941-778-3390 and by e-mail at