Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Cat's Tale

When my cat Crickett died recently, after 18 years, I determined I’d not get another. Losing any living creature, human or animal, with whom you’ve shared a life leaves a sizable hole in the roof of one’s soul, through which the cold rain of sadness can too freely enter.

But then Gary mentioned that he had gone to PetSmart, a large pet supply chain, with his friend George, who was thinking of adopting a cat. PetSmart gives space to local animal shelters as adoption centers, a fact of which I’d not been aware, but which certainly elevated them in my estimation.

Gary said they’d seen a beautiful 2-year-old named Billy, who was pure white except for a black tail and two small black smudges on his forehead. George had wanted it, but was in the process of moving and thought perhaps it might be too difficult both for him and Billy, with all the confusion.

Well, that set me off, and I went to PetSmart the next day. I truly hate going to animal adoption places, since my heart goes out to all the animals there, and want to bring them all home with me, which is very nice altruistically, but somewhat lacking in practicality. At any rate, on a whim I filed an application for Billy on the spot.

Having done so and given the paper to an employee, I went back to the viewing area and saw there was a section I’d not noticed, and in that area saw a pure black, 1-year-old male named Spirit. I have always had a very soft spot in my heart for black cats, so I asked for the application paper back and wrote in “Billy OR Spirit.” I knew I couldn’t take both, and have always hated making decisions like that, since I never want to hurt anyone’s (not even a cat’s) feelings by rejecting them in favor of someone else.

But the more I thought of it, the more I favored, on a practical level, Spirit. My love of black cats goes back to my beloved Thomas who was with me from the moment I found him abandoned as a tiny kitten in a parking lot in Los Angeles until he died in my lap 17 years later in Pence, Wisconsin. Shortly after Thomas died, I looked out the window one snowy day to see a large black cat in my yard. I learned from neighbors who had been feeding him, that he’d just shown up at their house one day. They called him Sheba, and I took him in.
I’d had Sheba (at the same time as I had Crickett, though Crickett never wanted anything to do with him) for almost 15 years when I decided to move to Chicago. Sheba I’m sure thought of himself as a panther, and he loved prowling the forest across the street from my house. I was always worried about him, what with the predators which roamed the forest, plus his crossing the street to get back and forth. But he was very street-smart, and there was never a problem.

But when the time came to move, I knew I could only bring one cat, and I knew that Sheba could never be happy cooped up 24 hours a day in a small apartment, so with a great deal of regret, which I feel to this day, I gave him to a friend who lived, with her husband, in the middle of the forest, a quarter of a mile from the nearest road. I’ve not checked to see if he is still alive. The chances are very slim, but I simply don’t want to know. That way, he will always be young and sleek, stalking wild mice through the tall grass.

Which brings us to Spirit. When I mentioned my plan to adopt him to a friend, he pointed out that a black cat named Sprit was wonderfully fitting in light of my new Elliott Smith mystery series, which deals with spirits. So back again to PetSmart with considerable guilt to change my application from “Billy OR Spirit” to just “Spirit.” After considerable back-and-forthing and will-they-or-won’t they, they called yesterday to tell me I could come pick Spirit up. He is, thus far, a sweetheart, who craves attention (something we have in common), and who insisted on sleeping with me last night...something Crickett never did. I do hope Crickett won’t mind.

Oh, yes, and when I went to pick up Spirit, Billy was gone; adopted by someone else, which greatly reduced my guilt.

So I have embarked on a new adventure, albeit a small one. But adventures, even small ones, keep us young.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/

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