93: The Zen Cat

93: The Zen Cat

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

The Zen Cat

The cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying, three for staying.

~Proverb

My little grey tabby cat Misha loved to prowl the neighborhood by day but she always came home at night. So I was frantic when she didn’t come home one evening. In Victoria, Canada, cats often get attacked by raccoons. Just a month before, my friend’s cat had been mauled to death, and I was terrified that something horrible would happen to Misha. I wandered the neighborhood, calling her name and shaking her treats loudly. I shone a flashlight in the bushes around my home, but to no avail.

In the morning, I called the Humane Society. I almost dropped the phone when they told me a cat was brought in the day before matching her description. It was dead. Hit by a car in my neighborhood. They asked me to come to make a positive identification. Knowing I would be an emotional basket case and unable to drive, a friend offered to drive me there.

The friendly staff at the Humane Society told me the cat wasn’t mangled, so I wouldn’t be too shocked. The minute my friend and I walked into the room, I fell to my knees. It was her! I started to bawl. My friend started praying and put his arm around me. My precious Misha! Life would be so lonely without her!

The Humane Society agreed to keep her for a few days while I figured out where to bury her. My friend consoled me for hours while I told stories about Misha and her antics.

“She sits on my shoulder when I walk around the house! She sleeps curled up beside me every night! When my car pulls in the driveway, she runs to the door of the house to greet me! My life will be so empty without her!” I cried on and off for two days, calling all my friends and family and sharing the terrible news.

A family in the neighborhood said I could bury Misha in their backyard pet cemetery. They were very good friends and agreed to have a burial ceremony for her too. After five days of grieving, I bought a box that I decided to decorate as her coffin. I planned to do some colorful artwork and attach some Misha photos to make the burial box special. In all my years of having cats, this was the most elaborate funeral planning I had ever done. Misha was unique.

She and I had an instant connection from the moment I got her ten years before. I had been travelling the United States in a 1968 Volkswagen van, visiting the national parks. In Virginia, I stopped at a hippie farmers’ market and noticed a box of free kittens. The minute I saw her little pink nose and brown eyes peaking out at me, I fell in love. I picked her up and she immediately pulled herself onto my shoulder. She wouldn’t leave. I wanted to keep her, but I was travelling in a van and heading back to Canada.

I asked her owner, who looked like Bob Marley’s twin brother, if I could walk around with her for a while and think about it. Everyone I talked to said we belonged together. She was so tiny; she fit right on my shoulder with her face nestled in the side of my neck.

After much deliberation, I decided to give her back to her hippie owner.

“I just can’t travel with her in the van and there’s the issue with taking pets across the border.”

“You gotta keep her,” he said. “You two belong together; your eyes are the same. It’s so Zen!”

I didn’t know exactly what “It’s so Zen” meant, but he convinced me to keep her. Misha loved travelling in the van with me and a few weeks later we made it safely across the border into Canada.

Now after ten years of adventures and a move across the country together, I was bidding farewell to my Zen cat. I would never find another pet like her.

With a sigh and a heavy heart, I got the art supplies out of the closet to prepare Misha’s coffin. Before beginning my painful art project, I noticed a light flashing on my answering machine.

“Uh, yeah, this is your roommate from your old house. Misha just showed up at our door. You wanna come over and get her? We’ve got her in the house.”

I rushed out of the house, jumped in my car, and sped to my previous address. It was six months since I’d lived there. I couldn’t believe that Misha would go back there after all this time!

No one was home. I looked through the window and saw Misha sitting in the middle of the living room, completely relaxed and looking at me as if to say, “What? So I was gone a few days . . . so what!”

Crawling through the open window, I grabbed her in my arms, weeping with joy, and scolding her for making me worry all this time! I wanted to wring her neck for giving me such a scare. Instead, I brought her home and pampered her with treats and a warm blanket.

The next day, I called the Humane Society to tell them that Misha had returned and that I couldn’t believe an identical female cat had died in my neighborhood on the same day I lost her. They agreed — it was quite a coincidence!

~Kathy Linker

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