This story must begin with a confession - I am not a "cat person".
Cats have sharp claws, darting, and disconcertingly odd eyes. Cats kill on instinct, or maybe pleasure, I'm not sure, but either way is disturbing. Cats make alarming sounds, sometimes for no apparent reason, or, and frequently, slink around soundlessly on silent feet. Cat's think leaving a small dead animal in your favorite outside chair is a nice thing to do. Cats are a little creepy.
This cat ... Meme ... joins me in the kitchen first thing every morning. I turn on the stove top and freshen up the water in the kettle while he circles around my legs. Sometimes he purrs while he's doing that, sometimes he meows, softly, as not to wake up the household. He eats the tiniest bit of the wet food I put down for him everyday while I wait for the water to boil then he calmly nibbles at the dry food which is kept out continuously. I ignore him while I press the coffee and fill my cup with steaming delicious hotness and just the littlest bit of half and half. I'm thinking about that first cup. I'm still in my robe and I'm headed for "my chair" where I will sip coffee and get set for the day. Sometimes I write out a list of things to do. I'm supposed to be having quiet time, but lots of days I'm already racing ahead even before that first taste.
This cat is making himself part of my routine.
He's smaller, lots smaller than the other cat who I feed. Shadow. Shadow is really big. He's the cat we have because I raised sweetheart children who won't walk away from helping set a wrong right. I guess they are both rescue cats. Shadow came to our house in a box with his two brothers and we bottle fed them, and heating blanketed them ... I began reading up on how to care for orphaned kitties ... and I guess despite my misgivings, aversions, I guess I started loving them. I understood how it happened, but I was dismayed to be part of a three cat family. Then ... one of them died suddenly in a accident at our home. Gosh it was sad. My little girl, V, was supposed to leave for camp the next day and we all decided that it would be best for her to carry on with her plans even in the face of that first grief.
At the end of that camp week, just prior to pulling in for the end of the week festivities that are always scheduled before luggage loading, this pinged in on my phone: "Mom, I need to talk to you before V sees you." That's about what the text message said. The one I received from "big sister" who was spending the summer at that camp as a camp counselor. I had no idea what to think.
I was hurried into the camp directors office as soon as I arrived at the camp where "C" and a couple of other young women were crawling around on the floor. Yeah, it looked weird. "Okay, so a tiny kitten wandered up last night we don't have time to take it to the humane shelter before the next batch of campers gets here and we can't keep it because we can't have a stray animal here with the campers arriving can you take it with you because none of us have time to get away and I know its not a good time because V had a sad week up here about that kitten dying and she may think I'm trying to set up a replacement kitten but" big breathe, "I'm not. It's just that I know you'll help... if we can find that little wild one" she said resuming the search. It seemed to me that the only place they hadn't looked was under a bookshelf. I got down and pressed my face against the floor peering into the dark. Sure enough, something shiny, like maybe cat eyes ... I repositioned myself and stretched my hand towards the opening on the furniture. "No Mom! Stop! He claws and bites like a little maniac! One of us will get him out!" Charming. Yeah, everything I especially dislike about cats.
They got him out.
He was a little tiny black thing with dull patchy fur, feral eyes, and a rusty colored gash across his mouth slicing through his nose up towards an ear. His voice was raspy, faint, but heart wrenchingly desperate with fear. They wrapped him up in a hand towel. I said okay. I said I needed to find VeeVee and explain the situation to her first, but, okay, we'd get him to the shelter. When I came back for him after getting my daughter situated in the car for the ride home he was practically lifeless. My first thought was he's not going to make it to the drop off and we'll have another dead kitten on our hands/hearts. I held him, took the towel off of him, he barely responded to that even though the girls warned me to be careful, he might get away again. I thought his last bit of energy had already been spent. I could feel every little bone in his rib cage as he rested in my palm. I ran a finger down his spine and felt his frail little legs. Black cat hair fell away as I touched him. Poor little thing. I very gently wrapped him back up and headed outside praying he would make it to the shelter. My kid held him in her lap for the ride home. I had intended to take him to the nearest shelter, but she wanted to just take him to the one in our town (about three hours away). Close to home he rebounded some, leaping from her lap and disappearing under the seat. We decided to "fish" him out from our driveway rather than at the shelter - he wound up inside our home where he "disappeared" for another day or two. Even though I hadn't seen him, I knew where he was hiding and I wanted to put a food bowl near by for him. My husband said put it in the middle of the room, that he'd come out when he got hungry enough. And he did. I decided that if the other two kittens would accept him without a ruckus we'd nurse him up before dropping him off at the shelter.
We wound up keeping him.
This is his fourth summer with us.
He really is V's cat. Cat's seem to select a primary "person" and he very obviously adores her.
This is what I've noticed about him - He's "happy" or content, content is a better word, I don't know if cats do "happy". He exudes gratitude. Shadow believes he is entitled. Meeko (aka MeMe) is just thankful. He has quirks that must be scars left by his "before us" memories. He is afraid to be held near a door. Like ... he tenses up if I'm holding him and I open a door to outside. He likes all of us a lot, but he hides if there is a guest in the house. He tends to prefer being outside at night, but he is always waiting at a door to come in in the morning. Shadow is less reliable. He is an excellent hunter, fearlessly running straight up a tree for a better vantage point. Shadow isn't a motivated hunter. He's more of a sunbather. Meek is a cuddler, with a eye towards who is sitting down for awhile so he can join them, Shadow will let you scratch him if he feels like it.
Meeko waits for me to sit down with my coffee and then he walks right up to my chair and stops, he waits, as though asking, before he leaps up to the space beside me that I've made for him. He's still. Purring, he leans in to my hand if I pet him, otherwise he is just there, content, purring.
He had a bad start. He remembers things I know nothing about. He's an overcomer. He is thankful. I don't think he frets about the future, or even plans his day. I think he's just glad in the moment. Seems that way. I like the lessons he shares in our home.
off by himself
(in my bed which I don't like and he knows it)
looking like I'm disturbing him ... .