The very first newspaper story I wrote was about a cat; that was back in March of 1984. The skinny, hungry-looking feline actually showed up on our back steps in 1976. I told Cathy right off not to feed that cat.
I am not a cat person. They are the most stubborn, independent, curious, wily, enticing, sovereign, leave-me-alone-unless-I-approach-you creatures that God ever fashioned.
“That Darn Cat” reappeared on our back steps the next day. And the next. And the next…
We went to Tennessee for a whole summer. Two months! We get home, check around to see that everything is OK, open the back door and there sits that crazy cat looking up like “where have y’all been!”
Sometimes you don’t pick the cat…
I wouldn’t let it, her, him (I don’t know nothing about catology) inside our house. You’ve got to draw the line! And I reminded Cathy that we were not going to feed that cat.
Under any circumstances!
The boys named it, her, him Sue-Cat. And despite not getting any food - when I was looking - this cat seemed to flourish, grow and enjoy life to the fullest. Everything was going along just fine, the cat kept her, him, its distance and everyone “minded their own business” … until the cat got sick.
Sue-Cat stretched out on the steps one morning and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get up. She was in pain. Cathy told me in no uncertain terms to fix this. Josh and Jess cried in unison, “Daddy, do something!”
I loaded up the cat in a cardboard box and took it to Dr. Nelson. Kidney failure! The cat got an IV. And boatloads of medicine. And boarded three days with the vet. We went to visit every afternoon! I ended up spending EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS on a cat I didn’t even know was mine!
You’d better believe I got a story out of it!
And I let the cat in the house. Did you know Tender Vittles come in seven delicious flavors? Sue-Cat ate them standing, propped up in my lap or laying on the couch. It, she, he took to sleeping in our bed.
The boys piled in there with us to “be with the cat.” I half slept for four years with Josh on my chest, Jesse hanging off the bed in the crook of my arm and Sue-Cat curled up on my feet.
I declared thirteen years later, when Sue-Cat passed away, “No more cats!”
Sue-Cat Two showed up like three days later, on the back steps. There has to be some kind of catology underground “jungle drums” system that alerts a homeless cat to where there is an opening!
She moved in within the week. Katze adopted us when Sue-Cat Two left. I’m pretty sure Katze was a girl… she had a litter of kittens in my closest not long after making herself at home.
The boys grew up and we got out of the cat business for good. I thought. Our sweet, innocent neighbors who are as nice and kind as they can be got displaced by Hurricane Michael. They took Cooney with them.
Apparently that cat didn’t like the temporary arrangement. It, her, him would fairly quickly wind its way back to the old house, which was under some serious repair work. Our neighbors would pick Cooney up and take it, him, her back, but in a day or two the cat “came home” again… and again…
Cathy was giving me the daily cat report, “Cooney is back. And I think she’s hungry. And lonely… ”
Oh, merciful Heavens! I didn’t want to be a party to this. But I did say, “Don’t get that expensive Purina Cat Chow.”
It was a bit of a process. Cathy would go over and talk to Cooney. Well, you know cats; it didn’t take long for him, it, her to reciprocate. Cooney took to hanging out in our driveway, chatting with Cathy.
The cat got to coming over every day. It wasn’t long before Cooney was sleeping on our deck… close to the bowl filled to the brim with Purina Cat Chow.
Of course, we had one of those cold February nights. The expensive food and the cat both moved inside.
I’m embarrassed to speak to Steve and Kim. I’m guilty by association. But I have been tempted to ask if Cooney is a girl. I may need to put a lock on my closet door!
I reckon by mutual consent we have come to a joint custody arrangement. But if that cat lies down on the back steps, won’t get up and starts moaning… I’m taking Cooney next door in a cardboard box and telling my neighbors they need to do something about THEIR cat!
And it appears, after thirty-seven years, I’ve come full circle in this writing business…
This article originally appeared on The Star: Hunker Down: Wife steals neighbor’s cat