61: Bell Ringer

61: Bell Ringer

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

Bell Ringer

Fun fact: Many cats don’t like closed doors and will meow or paw at the door to get you to open it.

TB was a gorgeous black cat with soft fur and huge golden eyes. He was such a deep black color, that at night, when he would stand up on his hind legs at the screen door quietly mewing to be let in, all you could see were those huge golden eyes floating in the dark looking exotic and rather magical.

When we found him as a kitten, he was really tiny, alone and hungry. And though warm and affectionate, he was still fiercely independent in that very cat-like way.

My husband and I loved TB, but we were a little worried when I became pregnant with our first child. I’d heard many scary tales about how cats could be a danger around infants, so when our daughter was born, we did our best to keep them apart. But tired new moms cannot be everywhere at all times. One night, exhausted, I fell asleep in the chair in the baby’s room. When I awoke I found TB curled up in the crib near the baby’s feet. Both of them seemed perfectly content, and I realized that maybe I’d been overthinking the cat-danger thing.

Another time, I was in the kitchen cooking and heard the baby cry, then stop crying and start laughing. I went to check on her and found TB licking the bottom of one of her bare feet, soothing and calming her the way a mother cat would lick a kitten to comfort and clean it.

The two of them grew very fond of each other. I couldn’t believe the rough handling TB would allow eighteen-month-old Becki to put him through. She would sit on his belly, tightly hugging his neck with one arm, while pulling his tail up on the opposite side to wrap around her and, to my utter dismay and bewilderment, she would often chew on the tip of his tail. Becki pretty much used old TB like her own live rug, shawl, and teething toy!

But TB took it all in stride without flinching, a master of quiet suffering and calm endurance. We’d tell Becki she had to be nice to the kitty and be careful not to hurt him, but TB never seemed to mind or complain.

Then, as our family grew in numbers of children and other pets we found that TB also got along beautifully with our parakeet, dogs, and gerbils. In fact, when the gerbils would escape their habitat, TB would help us round them up, herding them in our direction so we could catch them and return them to their home. TB never bit them or so much as ruffled a lick of fur on their little bodies. He really was an amazing creature.

He did these things and many others with the greatest finesse, but one of the best tricks he ever did was learning how to ring the doorbell.

From time to time, I would hear the doorbell ring and go to answer it, but there would be no one there. I’d open the door to see who it was and TB would run in!

I didn’t make the connection at first, but one day I happened to look out the window when the doorbell rang and, to my total amazement, there was TB hanging onto the screen door and leaning way over to push the doorbell button!

Later, we figured out how TB must have learned this little trick. He would see someone come to the door and touch that spot — to ring the doorbell — and the door would open. At first, when the bell rang and the door opened, he’d just run inside with whoever rang the bell. But, over time, he figured out that if he touched the same spot that people touched to get in, the door would open, and he could come in all on his own.

Sadly, he is no longer with us on this earth, having lived a long and happy life. As for us, although we’ve loved and lost many cats over the years, all of them wonderful creatures, TB’s spirit and cleverness made him an extra-special cat.

~PJ

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