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Return of the Prodigal Cat


I started with a dog, you know.

Her name was Samantha, which rapidly became “Sammie”; her mother was a purebred apricot poodle   and her father was a traveling salesman of some sort…whatever he was selling, she bought it.  Anyway, Sammie was a nice dog, a good dog…and not much more discreet than her mama—had three puppies under the couch one day.  Surprised me, that’s for sure.  She was with me  when I was an apartment dweller, through thick and thin, and even moved to the house at the present location but getting up and down the steps was more than she could deal with, so she went off to that Big Lap in the Sky at age sixteen.

That left things ‘way too quiet, so then it was guinea pigs.  I wanted somebody to know and appreciate the fact that I had come home every day.  Guinea pigs squeak and whistle.  They also scrabble around in their cedar chips beds when they get excited…sounded like a whole welcome home parade going on in there.  One guinea pig was a short-hair, she perished while sun bathing and was succeeded by a Sheltie, or long-hair guinea pig that had to get a hair-cut every so often.  I’d hold her up on the palm of my hand and use a pair of electric clippers to give her a sort of Dutch bob.  It was a short life and a merry one for her.  Then it was quiet again.

Along Route 82 a sign appeared at the end of a driveway—“Free Kittens”.  Never had an indoor cat before, with the exception of one winter when we kept my grandma’s cat when they went to Florida(Eustis, pre-Disney); it was not a good experience.  We had barn cats; they were on rodent duty and got an occasional squirt of milk when the milking was going on.  The dog got to come in the house—no cats.  But what the heck…could take a look at a free kitten; didn’t have to take one.

Well, we know how that turned out.

This guy was orange/gold and white.  I have a painting that I picked up at a craft show; he could have posed for it.  He had a collar with a bell and a name tag; his name was “Dauntless”, after a character in a musical, “Once Upon A Mattress”, a ‘way funny retelling of “the Princess and the Pea” story.  Prince Dauntless was sort of an anti-hero type(His mother was another story).  The Princess Winifred the Woebegone was the heroine, the mover-and-shaker, as it were.  My Dauntless got to be known around the neighborhood because he explored a lot.  He even had to be rescued by the paper boy when he got shut in an upstairs room of a garage across the street.  He was spotted looking out the window and meowing kitty curses at whoever closed the door on him.  For some reason I decided that he could use some companionship and I rescued a kitten of Asian ancestry who had been dumped at an organic farm.  She had had a traumatic kittenhood, had to be severely de-flea-ed  before we’d let her in the house, and nearly got “played” to death by Dauntless.  Her name was “Thai” or “Thai Baby”.  Her personality was beyond quirky.  She looked Asian; she acted nuts.  She left us first.  Dauntless seemed kind of lonely, so—God help me—when a Friend said that she had a feral mama cat who’d just had a large litter in her garage, I went to take a look, at least partly because one of the little rascals looked like another Asian.     Sooo….  That one came home with me.  Dauntless couldn’t believe it.  Couldn’t believe it when another one, sister to the first , showed up a few days later.  The third and last sibling appeared when the friend hinted that the remaining littermate might have to go to the APL.  Couldn’t let that happen.

Dauntless was amazed.  I always thought of him as being like Uncle Scrooge in the Disney comic books when the three little nephews, Huey, Louie and Dewey, showed up.  When were these little intruders going to get out of here?  Unfortunately, he left  first, quietly, on a Sunday morning, at the age of fourteen, I think.

So, there are three cats, Alpo, Shaver and Spooky.  Alpo was the Welcome Wagon cat, she met everyone at the door, giving them the opportunity to pet her.  Shaver was much more reserved, in a style usually reserved for royalty or movie stars.  Spooky mostly hung out in the basement, didn’t give autographs or put up with much affection.  Totally different personalities.

Alpo suffered several instances of declining health and after her last trip to the vet—where she got medications and a not-so-good prognosis—exited her carrier and took off, never to be seen again, not that I didn’t look for her, I did.  She knew her time was up and she went on her own terms.  Followed not long after by her sister, Shaver.  Walked out one day.  Never came back.  Same search, no luck.  Spooky is still in the basement, where she’s annoyed by the “younger set”.

This set consisted of Fuego, rescued from beside the road, Bob, the adventure cat who showed up one day with his soon-to-disappear brother and only half of a tail and Champ, who miraculously appeared on the front step, looking a lot like Dauntless.  O. Kay…cat food for four, litter boxes for all.  Then one day I notice that I haven’t seen Champ in a while, in or out.  Went looking for him—the neighbors must be wondering why I’m out calling for cats and never finding any—but no sign anywhere, he’s just gone off like the other two.  Oh, well,…life goes on; three cats is more than enough for anybody.  Time passes.

Then, one day I went out the back door to find something in the garage and I heard a sort of howling yowl from under the back porch.  An orange/gold & white cat came slinking along the basement wall looking for all the world like Champ.  A dish of catfood served as introduction and he came up to eat but not to stay.  This scene is repeated a couple more times, then I got to pet him and the door was open and he came in.  Hasn’t left since.   Caught him sleeping on the bed.  Bob and Fuego are acting like “guys”, growling and hissing to show who’s toughest.  It’s almost like he never left.  Somebody must have been looking out for him; he looks smooth and well-fed.  A new collar is in order. Perhaps I need to thank someone.  It’s all very biblical—Good Samaritan, Prodigal Cat.

Spooky’s still in the basement—not ready for the Big Lap yet.