That Cat


Photo credit: Dan Dodge

“I dare you to put that girly collar on me.”

Nancy Bryans, Writer, Teen Scene Editor, Production Assistant

In Honor of National Adopt A Cat Month

Some years ago, we patronized a restaurant recommended by friends. On a warm June evening, we drove a couple of miles from home to sample their seasonal blue crabs. Hungry, we arrived early when the doors opened for the dinner crowd. Our waiter sat us in a booth and he took our dinner orders.

While we awaited our meals, the tantalizing aroma of spicy crabs permeated the restaurant, increasing our hunger. More diners arrived, filling tables around us, and our waiter delivered our steaming platters of hard shell crabs. As soon as I opened my first crab and tasted its delicious contents, I felt something rub against my leg, then rub against me again from the opposite direction. I looked down and saw eyes looking up at mine. In a flash, a cat jumped in the booth next to me and meowed, a very loud meow. Alarmed, the restaurant owner approached and apologized. He said, “That cat is a nuance. He opens the door and walks in like he owns the place. He arrives every night, pestering customers for handouts.” I responded, “He is friendly and handsome, but I think your cat is hungry.” Exasperated, the owner stated, “That cat isn’t mine—he’s a stray cat!” Without hesitation, I asked if I could take that cat home with me, and the owner was delighted to get rid of him.

We named that cat “Tiger” because of his markings and muscular build. Tiger settled in with us, slept on my bed, and I thought he was the perfect cat. We decided to breed him with our kitten when she was old enough. Unfortunately, Tiger didn’t like the kitten, named “Lion” for her fluffy mane. We hoped Tiger would change his attitude about Lion when she matured.

Months later, I received a puppy for my birthday. Tiger hated the puppy, swatted him on the nose, and hissed at Lion. That night, Tiger ignored me and refused to sleep on my bed. The next day, after many puppy yelps and cat hisses, I saw Tiger stand on his sturdy hind legs, turn the door knob with his big paws, and walk out the door. We were accustomed to Tiger opening doors, but this time he didn’t return.

Desperate to find Tiger, I wandered our neighborhood calling Tiger’s name. Days later, a neighbor several blocks away opened her door and asked if I was looking for a cat. She told me she lived alone, and one night she was awakened when something pounced on her bed. Startled, she smacked at it and kicked it down the stairs before turning on a light. To her amazement she saw a beautiful tomcat. Then she noticed her front door stood wide open. I laughed at Tiger’s antics and told my neighbor why I thought Tiger left our home for hers. She smiled, saying I could visit Tiger anytime. “And, by the way,” she added. “Did you know Tiger loves crab meat? That was the only thing I had to feed him the first night, and he meowed very loud, rubbing against me seemingly in appreciation.”

Walking home without Tiger, I wondered why we hadn’t thought to feed Tiger his favorite food. If we had, perhaps he wouldn’t have left us. But Tiger was happy living with an independent loner like himself, without the annoyance of other animals. That cat resided with our neighbor for fourteen years, both enjoying peaceful solitude and an occasional meal of crabmeat