By John Knapp
When I first met my cat, Abby, it was raining outside. A small cat appeared at the corner of the duplex across from mine. She was crying. She was hungry. I went into the house to grab a can of tuna I had, and when I came back out she was gone. I called for her. She reappeared and came over for dinner.
She was a calico, with pretty markings and was very friendly for a stray, I thought. She let me pet her, and I left her to finish her meal. After she finished, she disappeared into the bushes around the house.
Over the next week or so, she would be around, and I would feed her, but I worried that I was feeding someone else’s cat. She seemed so tame, I figured she had to be someone’s. I took a picture of her and posted it on one of those “lost and found” pet sites. No luck. I took her to the vet, and she had an ID chip, but oddly it wasn’t registered in anyone’s name.
I had her health checked out, and made sure she had her vaccinations. Until I could be sure she wasn’t someone else’s, I let her move in to keep her close by in case someone called to claim her.
She was very wary when she first came in the door. She paced around the place, walking from room to room, inspecting the crannies. Though she was friendly, she kept a respectful distance. She was a quiet, well-behaved guest.
Like some intern, she shadowed me. It became apparent to me that I was the day’s “entertainment,” every day, all day long. I was “the show.” I live alone, and I’m all the stimulation she was going to get. I am not unmindful that for her I was the “go to” guy; cook, cleaner, doorman, playmate…everything.
One day I became ill, and somewhat dizzy. I went to my bed, and Abby stayed with me. I was down for hours, but she stayed with me the whole time. I guess that was the day I fell in love. I love this cat. I’m not the only one who loves their cat (see the proof here).
Yes, she had to be someone’s.
The next day, I gave name to the cat on the ID chip and unbeknownst to my absentee landlord, I gave her my address, too.
She is not a perfect cat. She has some quirks for sure. Used to being outside, she wants out constantly. I have known her to sit outside in very hot and very cold weather for up to six hours at a stretch. She fights coming inside, especially if she is having a stare down with another cat.
I know you’ll find this hard to believe. She is incredibly finicky about the food she eats. No, really. It’s true. It has taken the better part of two years to figure it out. The secret is whatever she wants to eat will always not be what I’ve put in front of her face. Yes, whatever she really wants to eat is her secret.
She has very dramatic bowel movements. After she “drops the heat” she will race around the house, as if the funk in her litter box is a visible monster. She’ll trip out on her newfound “enlightenment” and turn the hallway into her personal racetrack. Then she’ll leave it to me to fish out the “kitty-roca”. Some nerve.
We recently moved into an apartment which is up one level, and she can no longer go out by herself. I purchased a pet carriage for her, and we tool about the neighborhood, getting surprised looks from passersby. Or perhaps they are jealous, or maybe think I’m nuts.
Who cares? All I know is Abby likes it, and it gives her the chance to go outside, even if not actually touching the ground.
We are two fellow travelers, little candles who light each other’s way, and face the shadow play of life together. To twist a line from Game of Thrones, “It’s amazing how a very small cat can cast a very large shadow.”
We have a routine before going to bed. I slowly start pulling the shades, and turning off lights over the course of an hour or so. I wash my face, turn down the bed, thank God we made it through another day and perform the usual pre-bed oblations.
My intern will follow me, silently padding along. I may or may not notice she’s there. Usually upon almost stepping on her, I’ll sigh and say, “Oh, that’s right. I’m today’s entertainment.”
Well, then. On with the show.
Abby and John Knapp live in Vancouver, Washington. Abby is currently way into superballs, and is currently rejecting what John has offered her for dinner. Go figure.
Editor’s note: I met John through The Oregonian’s Community Writers program in 2008. He was one of a dozen Oregon and Washington residents chosen to write once a week for the newspaper’s Opinion section. I’ve been a fan ever since, impressed with his wit and intelligence, his candor and his lefty opinions.
Tomorrow: Angie Chuang, Why some immigrants ♥ Trump