A few weeks ago I started a draft. I was wondering where all the animals go that I’ve met living here. The ones I’ve fed, scratched and gave attention to. The deer is gone, the raccoon is gone, the fox, the blue jay but mostly the little cat that adopted me. One of my very first posts on this blog, A Cat Will Find Me, had me thinking. Where do they go? Did they die? Move with their family? They disappear as fast as they appear. The little dirty orange cat first met me on my back porch. I opened the window and she jumped. We startled each other. She was hesitant to let me pet her at first. She walked close and let her tail run through my hand. She turned and head butted my leg, then we were buddies for life. She greeted me before and after work. She knew the sound of my car and would come out of nowhere when I came home. She was such a buddy I had cat treats ready for her. I didn’t want her in my house so I pitched them on the porch away from the door. After a while the greetings grew farther apart. I thought maybe because it was getting cooler. Then I realized it’s been almost a year since I seen her. It’s been almost a year that I’ve seen any of the animals, really. But, this morning I get up early, like 4:00 am. I open the windows to let in the cool air then do my morning routine. The kitchen exhaust fan was on and I had the water running to make coffee. I thought I heard a cat’s meow but didn’t really pay attention. As the early morning went on I couldn’t stay awake and fell asleep in my chair. Once again I heard a cat clear enough it woke me up. The sun was just coming up so I opened the curtains and hear the loudest cat yell I think I’ve ever heard. I don’t see anything so I went outside. Who do I find?
I wasn’t sure it’s her, I’m still not sure. She’s really clean and a lighter color. She was reluctance to let me pet her but when I did she felt delicate. The scar on her nose isn’t there. It’s kind of a coincidence another cat almost identical would have been on my back porch waiting to meet me. Through out the day I heard her yelling out back, I would answer with my cat sound I make. We would go back and forth a few times until she stopped answering.
At work we use a service called TeleTime to clock in and out. At the end of the day I was in my car warming it up waiting to clock out. I noticed a movement to my left and there’s this cat. He’s just laying in the cold grass, it was only about 39 degree’s out and you can see spotty snow in the grass behind him. I’ve never seen him around here before. I don’t know if this is normal cat behavior or if something meaningful is attached to it. I just found it strange and something I’ve never seen before.
Sunday morning the Blue Jay was going crazy outside. I looked at the clock and it was 3:20 am. Even being half asleep I thought it was strange the Blue Jay was making that much noise that early in the morning. I started to fall back to sleep. The bed did a slight bump and I waited to see who was near me. I could feel little paws walking at the foot of my bed. Stinky, my old cat, visits me from time to time even though he was put to sleep several years ago. I could feel him between my ankles kneading my leg. He always put his left paw in front of the right one. I could hear his purr. Slowly I turned to look at him, trying not to scare him off. He stared back at me. His purr got louder and deeper as he looked straight into my eyes. I could only see his head down to the top of his front shoulders, everything else was just the light from the T.V. I said, “Hey little buddy, how you been”. He kept kneading and began to lay between my legs. He disappeared into the light and blanket but his purring went on until I fell back to sleep.
A few months ago I came across an old friend from the town I grew up in. He wanted to talk and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I gave him my number and address and invited him over for a beer sometime. He called me a few hours ago and said he stopped by Friday evening. I wasn’t home Friday and told him he should have called first. Mark said he drank a beer on my porch and waited a while, I didn’t show up so he left. Now I know how the Bud Light can got there. He mentioned playing with the cats. I told him the little yellow stray showed up when I moved there and never left. He replied, “He keeps your cat company”.
(In junior high school, Mark brought up that I shouldn’t talk about the subject of this blog. It creeped people out and they were talking behind my back. I saw them joking but I didn’t know they made fun of me at that time.)
“I don’t have a cat”, was my answer. Mark said there was a black and white cat in my window. He tapped the screen and the cat stood up, rubbed the window and jumped back inside. He mentioned the cat didn’t have a tail. I told him about Stinky, my old cat. That’s the exact description of him only he was put to sleep 5 years ago. I told Mark to log into my blog. There was a long pause. He said, “I want to read this, I’ll call you back.
Mark called back. He asked me if I ever noticed when we were kids how he would always wait outside for me. And how he kept telling me to stop talking about spooky things. He wanted me to stop because he stood up for me when everyone was laughing, he saw the shadows upstairs. He wanted me to stop talking about it because they made fun of him for it also. Validation is awesome…
Before I fall asleep at night the sound of my old cat running through the house comes back. He did this every night. Some times he was so rowdy I had to tell him to stop. It did no good, he would start back up. In the morning I found knocked over cups or the stray sock in front of the door. When he got tired he would jump up on the bed and walk all over me until he found a spot on me to fall asleep. The guy did this for 20 years every night even when his health was fading. After I put him to sleep 5 years ago he still returns. I hear him running in the hall and stopping in front of the door. I feel him jump on the bed and walk around. He’s always welcomed back…
This morning around 3:30am I was woke up by the sound of my belt buckle. The faint “clink” was enough to wake me and make me sit up. Nothing was there. I stayed up for a while but had the feeling I had to do something or someone was near me. There’s no mind chatter either, which is rare at that time in the morning. I finally went back to bed. At exactly 7:45am I’m woke up a second time. My blanket is tugged behind me and I hear “David” said close to my ear. Sitting up I said “I hear you”, my usual response. Nothing. David is my middle name. No one calls me that except my family and people where I grew up. Downstairs making coffee, my new stray cat friend is also screaming outside my front door. He’s never been so loud before. I open the door to greet him and he’s not there. I’m finishing my coffee as I type this. There’s still the feeling I have a visitor with me today.
Going out the front door a few years ago I just about stepped on this kitten. He was dirty and looked sick. His eyes were barely open and crusted around the edges. He opened his mouth but no sounds came out. I didn’t have time, I had to get to work. Checking my email, my package was “out for delivery”. I was excited my part was ahead of schedule. I get home that evening and there’s my package, with that little sick kitten crunched beside it. It was cold out so I brought them both in. He was snotty and sneezing. He could barely hold his head up or his eyes open. I set him down to open my package. It was a small computer part in a lot of packaging. As I checked it out I heard him rustling in the box. Then he sneezed. I turned my attention away from my new stuff and picked up the box with the kitten in it. He looked terrible. I took a wet rag and wiped his eyes out. His ears looked clean but I wiped them out anyway. He didn’t seem to care what I did to him. He sneezed again, this time a bubble of snot hung to his nose until he could find the effort to breath it in. The sound of his sneezing was very distinct. The wheezing that came with the sneeze sounded exactly like the word “Ratchet”. That’s what I named him.
I picked him up. He was so frail and limp. I carried him up to the bathroom to clean him up. He just wanted to get in my shirt to get warm. I filled the sink with warm water and set him on a towel on the toilet seat. He looked like a beanie baby, he was so small and sunk in. I put him in the sink of warm water. He didn’t fight. His paws held onto my finger as he started purring. I dried him good, even with the hair dryer. I wrapped him in another towel and brought him downstairs. I only had tuna to give him. Not that cheap $1.00 stuff but White Chunk Albacore $6.00 stuff. He feasted on the tiny shreds I had fed to him. The only thing I had for a litter box was some playsand I used for an aquarium and the box he crawled in. I took him to the vet the next day. He had a lung infection and something else. Cost me $200. I guess he was mine after that. I kept him a few years then he just disappeared like the others before him. He loved plastic bags and catnip. Every now and them I can hear his raspy breathing next to me.