Monday, November 30, 2009
The cat came back
Everybody loves orange cats. Well, it seems that everyone who has a soft spot for cats at all, fall all over themselves when faced with an orange one. Hence, Dr. Evil and Mini Me were the first of the five to find homes. A friend of mine from work wanted Mini Me because he was the runt of the litter. Dr. Evil was taken by a woman whose grandson wanted a blue cat more than anything in the world, but he would settle for an orange one.
Chestnut, though not truly orange, could have been re-homed about half a dozen times, but he was the one I wanted to keep. I was fairly non-committal when people asked about him however, because the way things were going with the two girls, it looked like we might be stuck with them so I was caught between really wanting to keep Chestnut and not wanting to have three cats.
That Christmas, Morgan and I were going away. We found a really wonderful soul who agreed to take the three four-month-old kittens (aka hooligans) for a month while we were gone. Secretly we hoped he would fall in love with them and we would come home to no cats - except Chestnut of course.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. He did however offer to keep Chestnut. Not that one, I said, but offered one of the other two. Morgan and I both quietly hoped he would choose Cleo. There was something about Broom Hilda that was just likeable and if we had to have two cats, she was our other choice. Of course, he chose Broomie. I hesitated for a minute, ready to voice my objections but had to let it go. We couldn’t very well say, here, you can have any one of these three kittens, except those two.
So we returned home with two kittens. Chestnut and Cleo seemed to love each other. They played together and slept together, annoyed Bear together. Eventually we stopped looking for a home for Cleo and settled into life as a three-animal family in our tiny house by the river.
Until one day in the early spring when we got a call from Broomie’s owner. He wanted to give her back, it seemed he had suddenly developed allergies. Was that even possible? I wondered. Reluctantly we took her.
The day she returned, Chestnut was the happiest cat I’ve ever seen. Broomie hadn’t been spayed yet and he would not stop following her around, even though she made it quite clear she was having none of it. Cleo was less than impressed to have another female in the house and growled, hissed and swatted at her any chance she had.
We made an appointment to have Broomie fixed within the next week and spent that time obsessively guarding the door against her mad-dash attempts to escape into the wild yonder. The last thing we needed was a bunch of kittens.
I awoke early one morning, the sky sporting just a hint of deep steel blue on one horizon as darkness seeped towards the other, and I had this strange feeling that someone was missing. I’m not sure how I knew, but I was compelled to get out of bed and do a quick head count.
Cleo sat up tall and owl-like in the living room, Chestnut paced in the kitchen. Broom Hilda was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until my third pass through the kitchen that I noticed the screen on the half-open window above the sink was gone. The empty space yawned accusingly back at me and I leapt onto the counter and stuck my head out the window.
Seven feet down, the screen lay on the ground directly below at an angle, resting on the spring plants that had grown quickly against the sunny side of the house. I looked from left to right then, but after the light from the kitchen, my eyes couldn’t see very far in the dark gray of the morning.
I jumped back down to the kitchen floor, where Morgan now stood, bleary from sleep, wanting to know what happened. We grabbed flashlights and headed outside to track down the escapee.
My feet crunched on the gravel of the driveway that became a single-track road connecting all the houses in our community. I was sure I saw a white flash up ahead in the gray light. I trained my flashlight on it, but it was gone.
After searching fruitlessly, Morgan and I returned to the house with our flashlights turned off and half-heartedly calling for Broomie, knowing that even on an exceptional day cats will come only when they are good and ready.
I was just stepping through the door of our house when Morgan said, there she is. Broomie appeared at a run amidst the overgrown tangle of raspberries that grew on the hill. She tore up from the river, taking huge strides that made her seem as though she was flying across the ground. Her eyes flashed wildly and we could see hot on her tail was another cat. Broomie ran straight inside the house and we slammed the door behind her.
Within a month we found Broomie a new home and even toyed with the idea of sending Cleo with her. We tried it for two nights, giving the new owners a choice of either cat, or both. They said they would keep both, not wanting to split up sisters; except Cleo and Broomie hated each other.
Chestnut was beside himself, wandering the house meowing mournfully, and I was so wracked with guilt, we had to go and ask for Cleo back. The cat that nobody wanted became the cat I just couldn’t give away.