Just a Cat

Sheryl Keiper, Coastal Carolina Writers Group

Sheryl Keiper-9d840d76

“It’s just a cat,” my neighbor said. “Why are you crying”?

I proceeded to knock him to the sidewalk.

Adrenaline and grief are a powerful combination; they mix well. How could I have the energy to do that with my senior arthritic body? I apologized and continued to walk my dog in my grief-stricken state.

I met up with another neighbor playing with her French bulldog. “I thought of you all day yesterday,” she said. “Did you have the courage to keep your scheduled appointment for Mr. Sherman?”

“Yes,” I said sadly.

She then said, “I’ll be right back,” and scooted into her house. She brought out a small baggie filled with peanut butter chocolate chip homemade cookies. Then, she hugged me.

She “got it.” She, too, lived alone; with her canine, Nicholas.

So, I guess I started contemplating my life with my joyful addition of Mr. Sherman, aka “Smokey” at the New Hanover Sheriff’s Animal Control back three days after Christmas in 2008. The staff left me alone with the cats in 10 separate cages. I had the freedom to stay a few hours as I wanted to interact with each of them and hopefully choose one to take to his “forever” home.

The first cat was jungle size. He was a Maine Coon, a huge boy with long hair. I took him out of his cage and he instantly bit me. “Ouch! Sorry buddy,” I said, “you need to be back in the state of Maine in your own comfortable environment.”

A further choice was a Tuxedo boy who was too frightened to let me haul him out of his cage. His crate note said, My family moved to Europe. “Oh well,” I thought. This excuse ranked up there with the “I’ve developed allergies” one. This cat definitely had abandonment issues and so did I so this wouldn’t be a good match.

My other choices were not good. After about an hour, I poked into the final cage #10. Two huge green eyes with a silver grey fur coat were watching me intently. “I dare you to try,” this cat was saying.

I love a challenge. I opened the cage, lifted him out, and was surprised that he immediately rolled over on his belly and let me scratch and pet him.

He’s the one. He trusted me. His tag said he was about 4 years old. I had a purpose in life now. I signed the paperwork, paid the adoption fee, and the shelter girl said to pick out a collar that was included in the process. I didn’t want one but she insisted, so I picked one out with sunflowers decorating it.

My new companion said, “I dare you to try to put that girly collar on me” as he rolled his eyes at me. I snapped it on…

I said, “let’s go,” and we were out the door. He was quiet on the car ride home but I swear his mouth was turned up in a smile.

And almost 17 years later, Mr. Sherman, aka “Smokey” left me for his journey to the Rainbow Bridge…