19: Zippee’s Greatest Adventure

19: Zippee’s Greatest Adventure

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

Zippee’s Greatest Adventure

Not-so-fun fact: In the Middle Ages, black cats were severely persecuted. The church considered them witches’ familiars or agents of the devil and believed they should be killed. Devil worshippers also sacrificed black cats to Satan.

His lithe body floated effortlessly through the air, sailing down the staircase and sticking his landing on the foyer floor. He could do the same thing in the opposite direction with just as much ease. This cat seemed to float on air. The fact that he had one eye didn’t slow him down a bit.

He had been up for adoption at the local feed store where I bought cat food for our clan. Each visit entailed stopping at the cages and looking at the kittens available for adoption. I would place my standard contribution of five dollars in the donation box. It was Christmastime, and in the cage next to some cute, irresistible kittens was this solid black adult cat. It was hard to distinguish head from tail because he’d curled himself into such a tight ball. He lifted his head and greeted me with his one bright eye. My heart instantly connected with him, but my mind was reminding me why I couldn’t bring this cat home. We were already a four-cat household.

The information card indicated he was a year old, recently fostered by a local cat-rescue group. He didn’t even have a name. I whispered, “If you are still here after Christmas, you will have a home.”

Christmas came and I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor cat with no name. I was haunted by the image of him spending Christmas alone in the feed store. I was positive that no one would want to adopt a year-old, one-eyed, black cat. I returned after Christmas and he was there, still curled up in his cage. He lifted his head and gave a scratchy meow when he saw me approach. Somehow, it was like he knew I had returned to keep my promise.

I inquired about the adoption fee and how this fellow had lost an eye. The manager explained the eye was removed due to an infection. The cat had been found abandoned and brought to the rescue group, which was asking half the normal adoption fee. I opened my envelope of gift money from my in-laws and paid the fee. I would thank them later for aiding in the expansion of their grandcat family.

I arrived home and was met with instant curiosity about the new cat in the carrier. Badger, our alpha cat, sat in front of the carrier and sniffed. He had proven in the past his compassion for new arrivals with our two younger cats, often referred to as “the babies.” They had been a week old when I brought them home, and Badger had stepped up and become their protector. I was confident he would do the same for this cat. Callie, our most outspoken, took the new addition as an affront. The two babies, Squeeler and Bear, did not seem to mind having a new kid on the block. After the expected hisses, growls, and checking each other out, everyone, including my husband, began to adjust to the fact that our family had grown.

My husband and I discussed our new cat’s name at length. We both agreed that the name should not refer to having one eye or being solid black. His name should reflect his personality. Once this cat was liberated from his cage, his first personality trait had become apparent. He loved running, leaping, and sailing through the air. We would call him Zippee.

I had become used to the sound of Zippee running and scampering through the house and the nightly “Pet Zippee Show.” Then, one Saturday morning, Zippee’s need for speed was almost his undoing. I was upstairs in the guest bedroom, enjoying the spring morning, with the window open. Zippee flew into the room, his normal airborne black streak. He landed dead center on the bed before springing toward the open window. To my horror, Zippee hit the window screen and burst right through it.

My first thought was that he was dead. My second thought was that cats might really have nine lives. I rushed to the window and found Zippee hanging on for dear life, his paws gripping the windowsill and his body dangling. His one eye expressed, “What the heck just happened?” and “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Befuddled as to how this cat managed to turn around in mid-air and grasp the interior of the windowsill, I was thankful that he was unharmed. I lifted him back into the house and cradled him in my arms.

Zippee was not a lap cat and he didn’t like being picked up and cuddled. Usually, holding Zippee was like trying to hold water. This was one of the few times Zippee did not resist being held. He was happy to be in my arms. Safely back inside and with the window closed, Zippee was not seen for the remainder of the day.

By the next morning, he was back to his old self, ripping and romping through the house. He engaged Badger in a game of chase and sneak attack. His adventure, like his handicap, had not slowed him down. With all of Zippee’s antics, the one thing this cat taught me was we must always face life filled with zest, be willing to trust that others will be there to pick us up when we fall, and never allow our limitations to deter us from being an active participant in this great adventure called life.

~Tori Bailey

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