“I think we should get a cat, Mom, so we can take funny pictures of their cute-ness and put them on YouTube,” my son said sweetly.
It was an innocent enough comment. I mean, how much trouble could an adorable cat be? Kids LOVE pets! If only our history with cats were that simple…
There’s Trixie, our precious calico-colored cat. She has persevered 4 moves with us from New York to Florida and we loved her dearly. Unfortunately she met her demise when my unsuspecting husband came home for lunch one day and closed the garage door behind him when he left. Nothing exceptional, except unbeknownst to him, little Miss Trixie had climbed on top of the garage door and rode the door all the way down. A concerned neighbor called my hubby at work a few hours later, alarmed that the neighborhood kids would be getting off the school bus soon and there was a cat hanging from our garage. Dreadful.
“Kath, I don’t know how to tell you this,” Tim began when he called me at work. “It’s Trixie. Uh, she’s gone.”
“She’s gone? What do you mean? Did she run away?”
“Uh, no…” he replied, searching for words. “She…got..squished”.
If that wasn’t bad enough. Our other cat, a black skittish beauty named Bingo, witnessed the squishing incident of her best friend Trixie. For months we wondered if Bingo felt he was next if he misbehaved! He’d stare out the window at our garage door for hours with a motionless, blank expression on his face.
Bingo wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill cat. For 8 years, Bingo lived in the kitchen cupboard above our refrigerator. Literally. She even ate her cat food from that perch, coming down only when she needed to use the litter box. Bingo despised our black lab dog with a passion. Most times when cats and dogs live together they learn to get along after a while. Not Bingo. He was scared to death of that friendly dog. And the top of the refrigerator seemed to be the only place in the house Bingo felt safe. Either that…or he still feared the garage door squishing incident.
Years later, Bingo finally got down from the refrigerator and began feeling comfortable in his own skin. Comfortable, that is, until he got sealed behind the bathroom wall…
During an ice storm in Atlanta the shower in our Master bath started leaking. It took 6 weeks for the repair company to re-tile the shower because of the backlog of homes that were damaged in the storm. It was a happy day in our house when the tile man backed out our driveway, his job completed. You don’t know how much you miss taking a shower until you don’t have one!
The cat had been out of sight while the repairman was there but it didn’t seem unusual, I thought, as I walked upstairs to admire the shower’s tile work. That’s when I heard it: Meooooow. Meooooow. Trouble is…the meow was coming from behind the shower tile wall. Bingo had crawled in the opening of the exposed wall and the tile guy had unwittingly tiled the cat behind it. It wasn’t long before Bingo made her home atop the refrigerator cupboard again.
You can’t make this stuff up…
Ah pets. There’s the time our cat died while we were on vacation, traumatizing our teenage neighbor who was feeding him. And the time our 10-year old son was devastated when watching our neighbor’s dog and pet bird. Unfortunately the dog was a “bird dog” and ate the bird the day before our neighbors returned leaving nothing but a few feathers as evidence. Then there’s the neighbor’s greyhound dog we were watching who jumped the back fence and bolted while we were watching him for our vacationing neighbors. Thankfully the dog was returned a few weeks later…having been found an entire state away…in Alabama. (Someone found her at Publix and put her in their vehicle. Fortunately the dog had tags and was registered with the AKC).
You’d think we’d learn…the defining epic cat event occurred when we “adopted” a neighbor’s cat named Grace. I named her Grace – her name was Moxie but the neighbors 3 doors down the street basically neglected her, so I renamed her. “Grace” adopted our front porch and spent more time at our house than our neighbor’s. Maybe because for months I painstakingly brushed the matted fur balls out of her neglected fur coat. So I didn’t find it odd when Grace chose to die just outside our back porch instead of returning to her rightful owners when her “fateful day arrived”. How sad. I did the only humane thing I could: buried Grace in our back yard, a place she’d visited more often than not. A few days later my 7-year-old came running in the house.
“Mommy, Mommy I just saw Grace. She’s alive!!”
“No honey,” I said in a soothing voice. “Grace is in kitty cat heaven”
“I’m telling you I saw her!” he insisted.
Several days went by and once again, my son came running in the house, this time taking my hand and dragging me outside.
Sauntering down the middle of the street heading straight towards our driveway was Grace, the long-haired gray cat. She sat right down by my side, looked up and purred, not a care in the world.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Well if Grace was alive, whose cat did I just bury? Turns out a neighbor on another street over was missing their cat – a long haired gray one. I buried a stranger’s cat who’d died on our back porch. For the past 3 weeks that cat had been showing up on our porch step, sickly and sad. Thinking it was Grace I gave her tender, loving care. Do you think the word was out in the cat world that a Mom named “Sucker” lived one street over?
Can you blame me for hesitating when my son says, “Let’s get a cat, Mom, so we can take funny pictures of their cute-ness and put them on YouTube?”
Perhaps there was good reason for our cat to live in a cupboard above the refrigerator. For now, I think we’ll stick with dogs.