To celebrate my 200th post. I think I deserve cake. :)
Last winter, when I wrote about Punxsutawney Phil and Gopher Guts, I said I’d save the cat story for a more appropriate time, like Halloween. Maybe you didn’t believe me. Maybe you were lucky enough to have never heard of me last winter. Those halcyon days are over and October is now here. And I feel obliged to purge myself of another animal story.
I have to start by telling you that absolutely nothing good happens when people approach my side of the bed and wake me up.
We’ve all had the middle of the night declarations from our precious bundles that go something along the lines of:
“I have to frow up.”
“My froat hurts.”
“The cat frew up.”
“The dog halves diareeeeeuh.”
(My children just stopped talking like this last week. I still do.)
But declarations from my husband, Grizzly, have been FAR worse.
We have a morning routine that rarely changes. It varies between excessive snooze alarms (him), and pillows on the head (me). I go to bed much later than he does so I ATTEMPT to get up after him which works a couple of times a week. If I am successful and sleep through the fire station alarm clock, I wake up shortly after he leaves. However, the handful of times he has appeared at my bedside to purposely wake me, it’s never been to tell me how fetching I look in the morning or to declare his undying love. I feel it should be accompanied by nitroglycerin pills to get my heart started again.
“Someone bashed out your car windows.” (Two of them. On my birthday.)
“Something’s stuck in JoJo’s stomach and she’s trying to eat the carpet. I’ve gotta go but you better do something.” (A rawhide bone and she ate three square feet of an area rug trying to shove it on through.)
“The cat got a bird and there are feathers and blood all over the living room.” (Which time?)
“All the animals are standing around the couch staring at the floor. I think there’s something alive under there. Gotta go.” (There was, but that’s another story.)
But once, ONE time, there were sweet words. Longed for words:
“Robynn, I think Bess is home.”
Bess? Our treasured and much mourned cat?!
The very words had me on my feet and flying down the stairs, with random clothes being thrown on backwards. Grizzly said he had been leaving for work when he suddenly spotted her sitting in the yard. Our dear, beloved cat. The five-year-old Wild Man’s dear, beloved cat. She had vanished into thin air three months earlier. He cried for a week. We had walked miles and posted countless fliers with her photo front and center.
Bess loved the Wild Man passionately and she considered me a close second. When we slept she would go from bed to bed, curling up next to our faces and falling asleep with an outstretched paw touching our cheeks. And now his cheek and his bed were desperately lonely and he could barely talk about her.
But here was Grizzly telling me she was back. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on her as I carefully crept out the front door, trying not to alarm her. Grizzly had warned me that she looked a little spooked and disoriented.
“Go easy,” he advised. “She seems a little out of it. It is her, isn’t it?”
“YES, it’s her!” I answered. “And of course she seems out of it. She’s been gone all this time.”
“Well, be careful. She might freak out or something and I’ve gotta go to work. Let me know.”
I approached slowly and bent down to collect her in my arms. She’d always been a gorgeous cat with luxurious snow-white fur. Now she looked a little worse for the wear and I wondered where she’d been. She was definitely wild-eyed but let me hold her to my chest while I made my way back into the house.
“Robynn, be careful!” Grizzly warned again.
“She’s fine!” I assured him. “Just a little shaken up,” and with that I said good-bye and shut the door.
Bess was home.
If I was smart I would just write “The End” right here.
The problem is, I’ve never really struggled that much with smart, which became painfully evident. I was an old-time cat wrangler. I had never met a cat I didn’t want to keep, hold, rescue, or spend a small fortune on. I thought loving every cat in the world would make every cat love me. I was fearless. Besides, why would I be afraid of my own cat?
I sat down on the couch and cradled her in my arms. I talked baby talk to her. (Doesn’t everyone talk to animals in baby talk?) Her body remained clenched. I gently scratched the sides of her face.
Bess had been one of four kittens Grizzly had rescued from a drainage pipe one day, while he was working. Heavy equipment roaring past guaranteed their demise as they wobbled out on shaky legs. Mama cat had been frightened off so what could he do but bring them home? Two white females and two gray tabby males. He said we’d raise them through kittenhood and then find homes. Oh. Okay. Our two cat household became six.
Three years later, I sat on the couch trying to reassure a terrified Bess. Her litter mates made their way into the living room. Lifted noses sniffed the air and stopped dead in their tracks. They absolutely didn’t know her. She suddenly realized they were there. And just as suddenly, she realized she absolutely didn’t know them, either. Apparently, I was the only one present who didn’t know the cat I held was NOT Bess. What happened next is hard to explain unless you’ve ever been attacked by a mountain lion.
I felt her lurch and I tried to hang on. That was a mistake I figured out later - during recovery. She attached herself to my face. I tried to peel her off which she apparently interpreted as my attempt to throw her into a volcano filled with wolves. She chomped my cheek, climbed by nose, dived between my eyes, and landed on top of my head. In a frenzy, I still grabbed at her, trying to stop the attack. She figured I was now trying to personally consume her so she sank her fangs into my skull and ripped. She won. I let go. And I screamed. Not on purpose. It was just sort of natural and organic, you might say, under the circumstances. The circumstances included child-birth-like pain, the sound of tooth on cranium (think T-Rex eats lawyer in Jurassic Park), gushing blood, and a cat recently launched off my head.
…….To Be Continued