Everyone knows of my wife's love for creatures and her devotion to their welfare in our local area. She's taken a large number of stray cats to "Operation Catnip," working as a volunteer to have them spayed or neutered and given shots so that even though they are feral, they are not a problem in our rural community. She has also fostered and even adopted dogs, cats and even a pony who without her intervention would have had their life snuffed out. These animals have turned out to some of the best we've ever had and we consider them part of the family. One thing for sure, with the animal family we have life is never dull and the humor they provide in some of the things they do is a source of making me smile. And smiling, after all, is a beautiful form of assistance to being happy and living a long life.
That brings me to the little creature pictured above. His name is Charlie and Charyl adopted him about six months ago. She was at work in a large office complex in Gainesville and the custodian came in with a little, frightened kitten in his arms. He has talked with my wife sometimes as he cleaned the office not long before her departure in the afternoons and he learned of her love for animals, something which he shared. The little kitten, not much over six weeks, was alone standing in the edge of a city street when the kind custodian found him. His mother, a feral cat, likely had been killed and the little fellow was petrified. So, the man scooped up the little bundle and took him to, who else but "Dr. Dolittle." Now I am not a newcomer on such matters, so I knew when she was slow in getting out of her truck to enter the house, something was up. And as she walked in with something cradled in her arms I already knew it was an animal. I also knew that the cute little cross-eyed and blue-eyed Siamese had captured her heart and that Charlie would never be a barn cat. Charlie would be here in the house to stay.
When he was old enough, Charyl had him neutered and given shots and a check-up and despite his wayward upbringing, he was in perfect health. He followed her everywhere, hopped in the bed when she went to lie down or sleep and only acknowledged my existence when she was at work. I noticed, though, that when our older indoor cats would give him the business, the little fellow held his own and soon he gained their respect. So Charlie and I just kind of went our separate ways of peaceful coexistence. But one day that changed and I still have no idea why.
I was in my small office working on a book when I noticed him sitting beside my chair, staring at me intently. It gave me a slightly creepy feeling since one can never read the mind of a cat, but I leaned over and petted him and he purred in response. Not long thereafter, he jumped up on the table beside my desk, stretched out and took a nap. Then, when I left the room for coffee, he followed me out and back in, jumping back up on the table. So, now he follows me around in the house when I'm the only one home, but the minute Charyl returns, I don't exist.
He loves to sit in the window sill and watch birds and deer outside, picturing himself as the grand hunter on the Serengeti, searching out his next meal. Fat chance, Charlie, for when he gets hungry he just meows at us and walks to his bowl. He's got it all figured out. But not to think he's different from other cats, on those times when he wants to be alone, he disappears. It might be under the bed, it might be in a closet but we know he's around and I think at those times I've got him figured out. Charlie is likely somewhere from which he can see us and we can't see him, watching us with a smile and thinking that we're more attached to him than he is to us. Sadly, that's probably true but, then again, he is a cat. And one thing else is true and it is that until you've had a cat in the house, you'll never appreciate them.
CATS: Just another little creature God has given us to appreciate and, yes, sometimes frustrate us. But, and it's a big but, they do grow on us as well.