29: Comfort of a King

29: Comfort of a King

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

Comfort of a King

Fun fact: A tuxedo cat named Simon was given a medal for protecting the soldiers’ food from mice on board a ship in the South Pacific during World War II.

One of our cats, KC, was the undisputed king of the neighborhood. He would make the rounds of the neighborhood and people would invite him in and pay tribute in the form of treats and lots of petting.

Our next-door neighbors, the Benders, didn’t know what to make of our animal-loving household. Mr. and Mrs. B and their two children lived a pet-free existence in their tidy ranch home. Although Mrs. B and the kids loved our menagerie, Mr. Bender didn’t like cats.

This didn’t deter KC, who always started his travels outside the Benders’ kitchen door. Even though they seldom gave him a treat, he remained hopeful. He would sit on their stoop, emitting the occasional plaintive “Meow.” If the Benders were around, they would pet him, but KC couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him inside.

Then Mr. Bender was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and KC didn’t even get his petting from the Benders. Caring for Mr. B was all they could handle. Undeterred, KC continued to stop outside their kitchen door, tilting his head and waiting patiently before he moved on to more receptive neighbors.

A few months later, KC disappeared one night. I was worried. The old fellow wandered, but he was usually home by dark. I stepped into the yard calling, “KC, KC!”

The light over the Benders’ kitchen door came on, and Mrs. B, finger to her lips, gestured for me to come in. She took me to her husband’s sick room. The tall strong man I’d known had wasted away. He was sleeping, and it took me a moment to realize what I was seeing. Mr. B’s withered hand was resting on KC, who was tucked close to his side. The old tom was purring like a motorboat.

“I don’t know how he got in the house,” Mrs. Bender whispered, “but he seems to be a comfort. This is the best Mr. B has slept in weeks.” She reached down and ruffled KC’s ears. “Do you mind if he stays the night?”

KC quit doing his neighborhood rounds. He stayed with Mr. Bender whenever he could. He would lie by the man’s side, purring to make his presence known. He seemed to be sure, in the way cats have, that Mr. Bender needed the comfort only a feline could give.

A few months later, Mr. B passed away. Thereafter, whenever KC stopped by the Bender household, he was always invited in to continue the important job of comforting the family.

~Leslie Gulvas

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