I’m Still Not a Cat Person

I’m still not a cat

I wrote a few weeks ago about an abandoned cat that has taken up residence with us. I also wrote that I’m not a cat person.

I woke up today on Maputo time, or some variation of it, and at 2:00 a.m. I fed the cat and caught up on election results online. When my wife got up and prepared for work, my mind was still somewhere between fully asleep in Maputo and awake in Nashville. Neither here nor there.

As my daughter left for work she said something about checking on the cat. She looked for him and couldn’t find him. He might be in her closet. But it didn’t register, so I went about my poached eggs.

Later I asked myself, “What was it she said? Did she ask me to look for the cat?” Since I wasn’t sure, I searched for him, looking in every cranny I could find. He was nowhere to be seen. I called him. No answer. I re-traced my tracks. No cat. Now I’m wondering if she said he’d gotten outside?

In the window I see a black cat loping across the back yard. He doesn’t look like our cat, but what are the chances of a black cat appearing in our yard at the same time I can’t find our black cat inside?

Still dressed in pajamas and thin slippers I go to the backyard. After three steps I realize the dew is thick as sop, it’s misting and my pants are soaking the dew like a sponge.

I say, “Here kitty,” and he runs pell mell to a hiding place under the fir tree.

Then he trots down the fence line and I lope after him. He looks at me, jumps the fence and sits on the other side. I can hear him say, “C’mon, sucker.”

I move toward him, he trots across the neighbor’s yard, darts under our deck, stops to smile benignly and swaggers next door. i swear to you it’s a catch me if you think you can swagger. He disappears under their deck. So, I’m standing here, sopping wet, unshaven, in my pajamas, thinking about all we’ve done to take in this haughty ingrate, giving him food, shelter and welcome, and he returns the favor by flipping his tail at me in the early morning dew. Oh yes, and there’s that little matter of veterinary bills and special food, and his self-centered, demanding, early morning wake-up calls, rousting us from bed for his breakfast.

So I go inside, shower, shave, change clothes and walk the neighborhood. “Here, kitty, kitty. Come here, boy.” And I ask myself, “Is this anyway for a responsible church bureaucrat to act, not to mention a rational adult?”

No cat. So I go back and send a text message to my daughter. “When did you say you saw the cat last? Where? What exactly did you ask me to do?”

Then I head for the airport to pick up luggage that didn’t make it home with me. But first, I drive around the neighborhood looking for the cat, and I see nothing.

I think about this all the way to the airport. “This,” being a boatload of guilt about letting the cat out, putting him at risk to traffic, animals wilder than he, cold, wet weather. This is just what I need my first day back from a long trip, a boatload of guilt about this cat.

Returning home, I cast a wary eye on the deck to see if he’s returned. Nothing.

I’m ready to walk the neighborhood one more time. But the cat appears on the stairs, stopping to stretch broadly and yawn. He walks to the counter where he knows we keep his food dish, stands upright, front paws on the dishwasher, and asks to be fed.

He’s been in the house the whole time, unresponsive and unconcerned. It was another black cat I’ve been chasing around the neighborhood in the cold, wet dew.

I’m telling myself it’s a good thing I’m not a cat person. If I really cared about this cat, he would drive me nuts.

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