96: Nine Lives

96: Nine Lives

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

Nine Lives

In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.

~Michel de Montaigne

People often talk about a cat’s independence, but what about the cat’s friendliness, and capacity to forgive? My cat Morris made me a lifelong cat lover at a young age because I learned from him a lesson in humanity.

When both of my grandparents died unexpectedly my family and I flew to California for their funeral. We left in a hurry, and I closed up my crawlspace hideout beneath our house without thinking that it might be occupied. But it was. For two weeks, my cat Morris was stuck under there in the dark.

When we returned from California I opened up the crawlspace door and found an emaciated Morris lying among a pile of insulation. He’d survived by eating paper, insulation, and carpet. We brought him to the veterinarian. He stayed overnight, was already improving by the next day, and we were able to bring him home.

But there was one strange side effect of Morris’ containment: forever after his head was tilted to one side.

The vet though he might be deaf in one ear or blind in one eye, but neither proved to be true. Although we felt bad, none of us could keep from chuckling when we saw Morris trotting down the hall, his head turned at a 90-degree angle. We called him Sidewinder after that. Somehow he still maintained perfect balance, never stumbling or missing a jump. He was his old self. Or so we thought.

Before he became trapped beneath the house, Morris was the cock of the walk. We’d hear him outside mixing it up with the neighborhood cats, dogs, or whoever. Many times I saw Morris just take off down the street upon seeing another cat. The other cats always ran away, and no dog ever challenged him that I saw.

And after the accident Morris still got in scraps. In fact one night I found him on the sidewalk, his face all bloody. My first thought was that his face had been scratched, but then my neighbor across the street yelled to me.

“Hey! Your cat just ran into a car!”

“You mean he got hit?” I yelled, afraid.

“No, he ran into the side of a tire of a moving car! He hit the hub cap, I think!”

I picked up Morris and brought him in the house. He looked pretty bad. I couldn’t even see his eyes or nose; his face seemed they had been destroyed completely. I sat crying, waiting for my parents to get home from shopping. I gently touched his face. My finger found fur beneath the blood, and I wiped a little away. Then more. In fact his whole face was coated in a layer of thick blood from a cut on his forehead. I wiped the blood away, and there were his eyes and nose, perfectly fine.

Despite all the calamities Morris went through, his attitude never once changed. When he walked into a room we were in, his tail shot up in greeting, every time. He still rubbed against our legs, still licked our fingers, with the occasional love bite. Morris never let life make him bitter, even when he nearly starved, and nearly had his eyes gouged out. Morris has been gone for years now, and I can only hope that when I’m tested in life, I’ll fare as well as him.

~Ron Kaiser, Jr.

More stories from our partners