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This One, I Want This One

by Debra Rogers about a year ago in cat
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Original sketch by author

I’d been watching her for a couple of weeks, and I knew there was something special about her, aside from the obvious difference. Every night at dinner time I would go out to the top of the driveway and wait, hoping to catch her eye. I stood well away from the commotion of the twenty or thirty feral cats milling around waiting for their food. They all lived right there under the house so there were always at least a few cats around, but night time was a three ring circus.

And then there were the three dogs from the next street over: the biggest Chihuahuas I’ve ever seen! They ran out into the neighborhood like they’d been shot out of a sling, and they looked like they worked out at a local gym. They were muscle-bound bundles of yipping, yapping energy. They would run at the cats trying to scatter them or shoo them back under the house, which only worked on the very young cats. The older cats only had to get a certain look in their eyes to make the dogs stutter and back up. Then they would saunter off to their next target, flinging a muttered insult over a sleek tan shoulder as they made their way up the street.

Oh, and I can't forget the resident raccoon who had the muscle to clear the area around her and her kits as they raided the cat food. There was very little that intimidated her…although I once saw her cowering in the corner of the front porch with her kits when the American coon hound up the street got loose. He broke the skirting under the house to get at her, but his owner came and put a leash on him before he could do any real harm.

So I hoped I could stand far enough apart from all the racket going on for her to notice me, and get used to seeing my face. Once I almost missed her, and then I ran to see her. That’s when she finally noticed me! Now what? Where do we go from here? How is this supposed to work?

I did the only thing I could think of. I decided to follow her to see if she would let me get close. It was working. She actually stopped to let me catch up, so I did what came naturally – I rubbed up against her leg!

Ah! That was it. She started talking to me in that funny voice she used for the cats who lived inside the house so I let her reach down and run her hand down my back. Wow! What a sensation! That was the night I followed her into the house. That was the night my life was changed forever.

There were big bells right by the door, inside and outside, and when I rang the bell I had trained the woman to come and open the door for me so I could go outside to play with my friends whenever I wanted to, but then I could come back in to take a nap when I was done playing. When I fell asleep on the woman's bed, and she came into the room and talked to me, I trained her to kiss my tummy by rolling onto my back and purring as loud as I could. In the morning, if the woman slept too long, I trained her to get out of her bed and give me food out of a little can. If she didn't get out of the bed the first time I stepped on her head, I trained her to get out by sticking my wet nose into her ear and purring. She was still learning that trick, and was getting better. I loved the woman's old striped cat, Reilly. He was a big, old tom cat, and he taught me how to be a good cat, and a good friend. My best friend was the other cat in the house. Djimou was born under the woman's house too, but his mother was chased away from the colony by the older cats when he was just a kitten, leaving him like an orphan. Reilly found him and brought him to the woman to take care of.

Yes, this was working out just fine. I'm not sure why the woman was calling me "Georgie" because my name is Punch. How could I tell her??

I know this is not a typical "adoption" story. I did not choose Punch, he chose me, although I still have no idea why, out of the more than two dozen feral cats that were then living under my house, that one cat chose to make himself a pet. He was still a kitten, maybe three or four months old, and I noticed that he was waiting at the top of my driveway for me in the evening when I came home from work. He was a funny little thing, his tail was deformed, twisted and only a few inches long. A vet told me that it was possibly tied up by an umbilical cord in the womb, or a birth defect of some sort. It didn't seem to bother him. He carried it like a little flag. He was smaller than the other cats, but so spunky that he would run up alongside the bigger cats and throw his front leg over their backs and flip them onto their sides, almost like calf-roping at the rodeo.

He lived with me several years, and he adored my old tomcat, Reilly. When Reilly died it affected Punch visibly. Punch grieved along with me, and after that he began to spend more and more time outside with the other feral cats. (By that time the man who had started feeding the cats who made their home under my house died, so I worked with the Divine Feline organization to have the cats in the colony trapped, neutered and spayed, and vaccinated before they were returned to me. Most of the colony had died and there were only about six left.) About 10:30 the night before Thanksgiving 2017, Punch repeatedly rang the bell to go outside, so I let him out, and I never saw him again.


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Debra Rogers

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