04. September 2005 · Comments Off on With Cat · Categories: Domestic, General

I truly believe that our pets choose us, rather than the other way around. Sometimes we are chosen because that particular dog or cat is a crafty sort, detecting the presence of a “soft touch”, those of us who have “incredible sucker for our dumb chums” writ in invisible letters across our foreheads. We are singled out of a pack of humans as an acceptably reliable source of kibble, shelter and affection which any dog or cat considers its’ rightful due. They decide “Well, that one will do very nicely”, and move in.

But at least as often, it is an instant, passionate affection, motivating an animal to attach itself to our household or person, and that is what has happened to Cpl. Blondie and the white cat, Sammy From Across The Road. Sammy is actually not exactly white, more of an ivory color with faintly orangish points and watery, severely crossed blue eyes. He looks as if he were a white cat washed with insufficient bleach, or an orange cat washed with entirely too much. He was found as a tiny kitten a couple of years ago, by the neighbor in the rental house across the street, and bottle-fed. By curious coincidence it was the previous tenants of that very house whose un-neutered and bounteously fertile queen provided me with Henry VIII, Morgie, Little Arthur, and the sadly deceased Bad Nimue-cat. These neighbors are just as soft about animals; besides Sammy and one or two other cats, they also gave house-room to a pack of half a dozen or eight yappy, excitable teacup Chihuahuas— all them merged together would barely make a fraction of a proper sized dog, although they would produce enough noise for a good many of them.

This was not a situation that any self-respecting cat could tolerate for long, so Sammy soon began hanging out in the Garden of Cats, a peaceful, gentlemanly retreat for a peaceful, gentlemanly sort of cat, who only wished to snooze on sun-warmed stones and watch the birds at the feeder, without being pestered by a pack of yappy, noisy, teasing little rat-dogs. Sammy and the senior clubman, Bubbah From Down The Road exchanged the usual cat-rudenesses (hissing and spitting) until I bought another cat dish, so they didn’t have to share. They got along, rather grumpily, after that, taking very little notice of the junior member, Parfait, who waits patiently until his bettors are finished, until Cpl. Blondie was home for Christmas. And Sammy fell hopelessly, haplessly, deeply in love, much to his owners’ surprise.

“He isn’t really all that good with people, usually, “ they said in baffled surprise, but his adoration was open and demonstrative. He was constantly twining around her ankles, or curled in her lap, purring and blinking his bleary blue eyes at her in rapt adoration. After she went back to Cherry Point, he returned loyally every day for a week or so, and then he didn’t show up at all… and my neighbor Judy told me he had been struck by a car while crossing the road, struck a glancing but not fatal blow. I hated to tell my daughter this, and Judy and I sincerely hoped that after this, his owners would keep him inside for his own safety. Alas, they did not: when Sammy ventured into his old haunts in my garden again, he was thinner, and held one front leg close up against his body, the paw curled uselessly, but hopping easily on three legs nonetheless. He flopped down onto a sunny patch of the stone path, purring with as much enthusiasm and affection as ever. I did take this up with his owners— they said he yowled and clawed at the door so much, they had to let him out. Well, were I stuck in the house with all those little dogs, I think I’d be yowling and clawing at the door myself… but still. Judy and I worried, nonetheless.

A couple of weeks ago there was a for-sale sign on the front lawn of the house across the road— Sammy’s owners were moving to another house in the neighborhood, lock, stock barrel and yappy little dogs. But Cpl. Blondie asked; would they take Sammy? Perhaps they would just leave him to us— would I ask, at least?
They didn’t want to at first, but Sammy made his preference quite plain. He was missing for three days, they said indignantly, the three days where they were moving to the new house, and I said,
“He was over at my house that whole time. If you ever can’t find him, look in my yard first.”

The husband didn’t care all too much; he was agreeable to leaving Sammy where Sammy obviously wanted to be. The wife, though— she was in two minds. She came to the house to get him, the day after they were in their new place, three blocks away, trailing two of the little dogs on leashes. She sent a neighbor boy to ring the bell and ask for Sammy. I carried him around from the back, and made one last plea.
“He’s so fond of the garden, and my daughter loves him— if you take him away to the new house, I’m afraid he’ll be killed trying to get back, unless you keep him in the house all the time.” And I promised that Blondie would always take care of him, and she relented— the dogs were yipping without pause, and it was late in the day. I carried Sammy back, and closed the gate on the outside—so full of dogs and noise and busy streets, and put him down, safe in the quiet garden that he loves so much.
Blondie, sweetie, you are “with cat”… and he’s waiting for you, in the garden.

(Note: Actually, after a through check-out by the vet, he is in the house now. He sleeps in the foot of her bed, and doesn’t have all that much to do with the other cats. They are curious, but fairly polite. The veterinarian thinks he must have some Siamese ancestry— the crossed blue eyes and the raucous yowl are very, very Siamese. So, five cats… but I hold to my self-respect by insisting that only four are mine— Sammy is my daughters’, and when she has her own place, Sammy will go with her. I think he is adjusting to the indoors thing; he would like to go out… but he is not insisting on it very strongly at all)

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