34: The Feline Follies

34: The Feline Follies

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

The Feline Follies

Fun fact: Many cats don’t like to have their bellies rubbed. It’s a natural protective reflex to protect their vital organs.

When I went out of town unexpectedly, I asked my friend Susie to take care of my cats. She was a bit wacky but a pet lover, and it was just for the weekend, so what could go wrong, right?

I brought her over briefly to show her the lay of the land.

Mimko, my gray one, welcomed her with a swish against her legs. The other two, Fuzik and Little B., did their normal disappearing act — under the bed, behind the sofa, who knows where? Amazing how many places they could find to hide in my tiny one-bedroom apartment. When Susie came to meet them, they were MIA.

I described them to her. “Fuzik, the black one, is a scaredy-cat at first, but lovable once he gets to know you. The orange kitten, Little B., is a feral.”

“Oh, that’s so sad. Maybe he’ll outgrow it.”

“I hope so,” I sighed. “He’s still young. Don’t try to pet him, or he’ll bite or scratch you. He’s not at all approachable. He’ll most likely be hiding anyway when you come.”

“Maybe he lost his mama cat at an early age,” she reasoned. “What does the B stand for?”

I told her that he’d been so wild and unresponsive to humans that I had named him Little Brat.

“But my mom thought it wasn’t nice to call him a brat because he can’t help the way he is, so I call him Little B.,” I added.

Susie agreed with my mom.

“Maybe if you had named him something compassionate, he’d be more socialized,” Susie reasoned. “I’ll work on him.”

“Do it at your own risk,” I warned, laughing. “The first-aid kit is in the bathroom.”

The first night, Susie called. “Your critters are fine. Mimko is a true swisher.”

She went on: “The little orange one vanished into the closet when I entered. I call him Little O. for ‘Orange.’ Get it? Then he stuck his head out. So that’s an improvement, anyway. I think he likes this new name better.”

“And Floozy was all over me,” she added.

“Floozy?” I laughed. “His name is Fuzik — it’s Czechoslovakian for Whiskers.”

She quipped, “He’s Floozy to me. He does that throw-down to the floor. You know, the one that says, ‘Rub my belly NOW.’ ”

Susie’s message the next day concerned me.

“Hello! It’s the Animal Farm here. I don’t know how it happened, but the orange cat got out. I found him outside your sliding glass door. But don’t worry. I let him in, and he went straight for his food. Everyone’s fine.”

It really bothered me that Little B. had been left out, perhaps overnight. My cats were indoor cats.

I called her back and left a message: “Are you sure you didn’t accidentally leave the door open, even for a second? Please check the windows. Those cats are tricky.”

The next morning, I received her response: “It’s Susie from the Feline Follies calling. The windows and doors are shut. The cats are accounted for. Mimko is in the fridge, and Floozy’s on the chandelier. Don’t worry. I’m kidding.”

She went on, “But seriously, you were so wrong about Little Orange. He sits on my lap and purrs. Maybe he likes me better than you. Ha ha.”

I was beginning to wonder if Susie was in the right apartment. In the two months I’d had him, he had NEVER let me pet him, much less sit in my lap. Could he be coming around? I had been hoping he’d become more domesticated when he was neutered.

Could Susie have tamed my crazy kitty so quickly? So far, he hadn’t taken to anyone except Mimko. He’d nurse on her when she was in a deep sleep. When she woke up, she’d smack him. I guess she was telling him, “I’m not your mama!”

No, he was definitely not friendly with people or any cats except Mimko.

I conveyed all this to Susie. Then she said something that puzzled me even more.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, Eva. Last night, the two little oranges were snuggled on the couch together. They appeared to be very friendly indeed!”

“Susie!” I exclaimed. “What are you talking about? I only have one orange cat!”

She insisted there were two orange ones. And the gray and black cats were there also.

“How many cats are in my apartment?” I demanded.

“Four! How many do you have?”

Thoroughly confused and a little upset, I replied impatiently, “Susie, I only have three!”

“But you have four plates out,” she maintained.

“Yes, three for wet food and one for dry.”

My trip was over the following day, and I couldn’t wait to get home. As I parked my car at the complex, I noticed a sign on the gate with a picture of an orange cat. “Missing cat. Answers to Butternut Squash.” It had a phone number. The same sign was on the elevator.

It became increasingly clear what had happened. It had been Butternut outside my sliding glass door that night, not Little B. And it was Butternut and Little B. huddled on my couch last night.

As I opened my door, four little critters encircled me: Mimko, Fuzik, Little B. and their new buddy, Butternut Squash. I hugged and kissed three of them and sneaked a quick pat to Little B., backing away before he had a chance to bite. Predictably, he hissed.

Then I quickly ran to the elevator to get the number of Butternut’s anxious mom. She lived across the complex and had no idea how Butternut had escaped, but was ever so appreciative that he was safe. She rushed right over and happily embraced her little orange munchkin and took her home. Little B. seemed sad to see Butternut leave. However, we promised we’d get them together on play dates, and we did.

It warmed my heart that Little B. had found a friend.

Two months later, Butternut’s mom left a note on my sliding glass door, “Congratulations, Grandma. Butternut had kittens. Come take your pick.”

I guess Little B. had been even friendlier than I had thought.

We never did a paternity test, but one look at the four orange kittens left no doubt who was the daddy.

I took one kitty and named it Little S. for “Surprise.” Butternut’s mom kept two, and we thought it was only fitting that Susie should get one, since she had been the matchmaker, so to speak. She named it Little O. for “Orange.”

Butternut was soon spayed, and Little B. was neutered. It helped soften his disposition. He actually let me pet him once in a while and even purred for me, a mere human, once in a blue moon. Being around other cats he loved helped with his socialization. Or maybe it was fatherhood that had turned him into a slightly gentler, more domesticated kitty.

~Eva Carter

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