Thursday, May 10

kitty love

For some time, I've joked that I will never marry, and become the proverbial old cat lady. Now it's happening.

Chester came into my life last week when I asked my neighbor across the street why her hand was bandaged. She explained that she'd recently acquired another cat; she already has two and a dog. In the process of acclimating the new kitty to his surroundings, she'd suffered a flesh wound when he got scared and attempted to permanently implant his claw in her left hand.

"Why don't you leave Chester with me when you go to work," I volunteered.

"OK," Lisa agreed.

And so, come Monday morning, there he was in my kitchen. I suddenly realized I had no idea what to do with a cat. But it turns out, you don't do much at all. You pat him on the head, give him some food and water, scoop out the litter box from time to time, and go about your normal business. After our first day together, he went home, but the next day, I called Lisa and asked if Chester could spend the night.

I should clarify that I've never owned a cat before. I once adopted one little white campground kitten into my cabin for a week, and even asked about taking her with me when I left, but I've never ever thought of myself as a cat person. 

In fact, I've always been a proud dog girl, slightly distrustful of people who prefer cats. But I've taken to Chester surprisingly well. I'm even a little giddy, anxious to get home so I can scratch under his chin, just the way he likes.

I seem to have a habit of borrowing other people's children and animals. I can't decide if this grows from compassion or commitment issues...or both. I currently have a horse, several dogs, three adolescent girls and one little boy periodically in my charge, none of which really belong to me. 

And now, for the time being, I have Chester.

I just Googled 'cat colorings' and discovered that Chester is a 'Black Tabby Classic with White.' I do like to think I have 'classic' taste, and so far, I love this cat. But I don't think you'd catch Chester in a cat show because, while he may have classic coloring, he's not your average tabby––he's missing a tail. Well, I suppose I don't actually know if he's missing it, but it's definitely not there.

When I went over to Dragon Boy's house last night, he had several hypotheses about this.

"Well, I've been thinking about what might have happened to his tail," he said, "like maybe a dog bit it, or someone cut it with scissors, or he got hung from a tree by his tail, or..."

I had to stop him before he gave me any more fodder for my imagination. Kids can really traumatize a person.

Chester, however, does not appear traumatized in the least. In place of a tail, he's got a tiny nub that wiggles around, giving the impression that he's wagging it. Sometimes he tucks his forepaws under his chest, making himself into a cat torso with a head.

Aside from dabbling in optical illusions, Chester's daily activity appears to be a repetition, in varied order, of three occupations: investigating whatever catches his fancy, plopping down on furniture or floor without warning, and taking cat naps.

Not a bad life, if you ask me.

I was watching Chester today, thinking about how one day he was on the street, just a little tail-less kitty with no prospects, and now here he is, the ruling feline of my apartment. What a lucky cat, I think. But maybe he's just a survivor. Maybe he always knew things would turn around. He seems perfectly at peace with no tail, content to bat a flightless moth around the floor and drink out of the toilet.

Makes me wonder what I'm so hung up on...