Great golden comma of a cat,
You spring to catch my robe's one dangling thread,
And somehow land entangled in my heart.
Lija BroadhurstBecause of all my talk of mice, you may have forgotten that there is a cat in the house. Mitzy, now 19 years old, has never been much of a mouser and to our knowledge, has only ever caught one mouse. This she presented to us with a great mewling fanfare; we could only speculate how she managed it. Did the poor thing run into her mouth somehow?
Mitzy is pretty; she has four white paws that make her look like she is wearing tall stockings and she's gray everywhere else, a dark gray like the darkest thunder cloud. She was always a bit of a sniffy cat, too haughty to allow hugs or holding. However, she will let you rub the fur on the top of her head for a moment or two, but that too is, in true cat fashion, like she is doing you a favour.
Since Rex joined our household, Mitzy has preferred to spend most of her time down in the basement. She has an old wingback armchair next to the furnace where she loves to curl up and dream away her days. She calls to us twice a day to change her water and food; she will only drink fresh water and she is quite insistent about this.
Last year, Mitzy had an adventure, the details of which we can only speculate about. It was a warm April day, the garage door wide open and an army of flies appeared from nowhere suddenly buzzing everywhere. Mitzy made one of her rare appearances perhaps enticed by the sunshine or the flies. I watched as she ventured outside reaching for the thin shade by the gate, stepping very cautiously. How long since her feet had touched grass? I watched her creep along the fence then suddenly bound towards the barn door for all the world like she knew exactly where she was going and couldn't wait to get there. I didn't realize it would be six months before we would see Mitzy again.
We knew she was missing when there was no sign of her later in the day. We kept the garage door open for the next few nights hoping she would see the light and be lured back home. A search of the barn revealed no Mitzy. Every day I walked the woods path calling her name and tinkling a little bell, but there was no sign of our poor cat anywhere. We hated to think of her, a docile and thoroughly domesticated little being, at the mercy of the wild creatures. However,we were assured that if she was still in the barn, she was well sheltered there; it is heavily insulated and completely dry. It is home to countless generations of mice and Mitzy is not declawed so maybe she could fend for herself, we thought.
As the weeks passed we started to give up hope we would see her again. Her empty armchair in the basement was a constant reminder of her absence. One day, hubby saw a cat in the barn but dismissed the idea that it was Mitzy. The cat he glimpsed was swift moving and about half the size of Mitzy. Oh, did I forget to mention that our cat had become a bit of a butterball. Even though the cat he saw seemed to have white paws, he couldn't be sure so assumed it was one of the barn cats from the farm next door that occasionally stroll our property.
It was our talk at tea break, though. If it was Mitzy living in the barn, how dark and strange did she find it? Did she face down anything unfriendly there? Or was she perhaps the unwelcome presence? Was she finding it cold now that summer was gone? Did she long for the comfort of her old chair? Why wasn't she coming back to the house, literally yards from the barn? That last question really had us stumped. But who knows the thoughts of cats...
October and I hear hubby yell from the garage; I open the door and something rushes past me and runs down the stairs. It is Mitzy home again; a much, much thinner Mitzy but seemingly none the worse for her adventure. She resumed all her habits like nothing had happened; a year later and she is a bit of a butterball again, ordering her fresh food and water twice a day and allowing only the occasional head rub.