68: O Captain! My Ornery Captain!

68: O Captain! My Ornery Captain!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

O Captain! My Ornery Captain!

The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it.

~Doug Larson

Captain was not the most likable cat. In fact, that might be an understatement.

Rescued from the cruel intentions of a nutty neighbor back when I was just a teenager, I promised the little scruffy kitten I’d take care of her. I remembered how she looked me straight in the eye with her black bandit brow and silently accepted my vow.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of you. I promise,” I said. And when I make a promise I keep it . . . even if the recipient of that promise hisses and ignores me.

Captain, the little scruffy kitten, became part of our family and grew up alongside me in my mother’s house through my school days, college years and then left the nest (with much elation from my family) when I got married.

She was an outdoor cat when I lived with my mom, but once I moved into my new home (with my “reluctant-to-have-a cat” husband) she stayed indoors. Being plain unlikable and having a cold detached personality was just what I learned to live with. (I’m referring to the cat, not my husband.) Although she didn’t like to be held or cuddled, what impressed me about Captain was her loyalty.

She remained by my side, like a bodyguard, and walked beside me like a soldier lining up during his or her morning drills. Captain the ornery cat was loving, but just distant with her love. Some people are like that too. Not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve . . . or their paw.

Rarely did Captain meow. She had a little Bonnie Raitt type of rasp to her voice, but it was seldom heard. That’s why on one particular night it stood out.


This was an unfamiliar sound in our house.

“Meow, Meow.”

My husband and I were lying in bed perplexed.

“Is she hungry?” my husband asked.

I hadn’t changed her meal plan in seventeen years, so it was doubtful.

So I asked, “What is it, Captain?” expecting an answer.

“Meow, meow, meow.”

I sat up in bed and as I did this she took a few steps toward the bedroom door. She meowed again. I got up and she walked into the hallway. I could tell that she wanted me to follow her, so I did. Down the stairs we went.

Once we got to the kitchen, she repeated her raspy meows and stood next to the stove.

“What is it, Captain?” I asked again.

She meowed until I saw the flame on the stove.

And on the flame, was a pot. Once gray, now a dark charcoal color.

The pot! I had left a pot burning on the stove!

I remembered that I had planned to have a cup of tea before I went to bed but never got around to it.

Quickly, I rushed to turn off the back burner. The near miss of a house fire overwhelmed me. My husband and I would have been asleep in bed. The fear of what might have happened flashed through my mind.

Cuddle or no cuddle, I picked up this wonderful hissing hero and squeezed her with kisses and hugs. “O Captain! My wonderful ornery Captain! You saved the day!” She had earned her stripes and earned her name.

Although Captain was unable to show her affection in the ordinary feline tradition of snuggles and sandpaper-tongue licks, she had done something extraordinary. She showed her love that night in a heroic act of bravery.

~Mary C. M. Phillips

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