77: Christmas Kitty Miracle

77: Christmas Kitty Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Christmas Kitty Miracle

Cats can be cooperative when something feels good, which, to a cat, is the way everything is supposed to feel as much of the time as possible.

~Roger Caras

When my husband Randy and I were newlyweds, we adopted a very precocious gray kitten from one of my coworkers. At the time, we were living in a rented duplex that really wasn’t supposed to have pets, but I was young and every cat I’d ever had before had been very well behaved, so I figured this new one, who I named Dink, wouldn’t be a problem.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Apparently, Dink felt she should have been an “outdoor” cat because she made it her mission to climb at every opportunity. She’d run up the door frame with all the grace of Michael Jordan making a jump shot, digging her claws in at the top for a couple of seconds before releasing, tumbling to the floor and running up again.

Doorframes weren’t her only means of exercise. She also practiced her climbing on the curtains — which belonged to the landlord and were made from a weave that pricked very easily. I’d hear a scuffle in the bedroom and, upon investigation, find her perched on top of the curtain rod, calmly licking her paw. Then one day I heard a crash in the bedroom. I ran into the room to find the curtains in a pile on the floor and my precocious kitty across the room, sporting that “I-don’t-know-what-caused-that-loud-noise-but-it-wasn’t-me” look with which every cat owner is well acquainted.

But the absolute worst thing she would do was run up my back when I was cooking. I’d be standing at the stove, cooking away at some new recipe, when she’d take a running start and scamper up my back. Ouch.

The months went by, and Dink showed no sign of calming down. If anything, her energy increased as she grew. Finding the curtains on the floor of the bedroom became a daily occurrence. Christmas was just around the corner, and Randy and I debated whether or not to put up a tree. We knew we couldn’t do a live tree because the temptation would be too great for our little climber. I couldn’t imagine celebrating Christmas without a tree, so eventually we settled for an artificial tree with no tinsel and no ornaments or lights on the bottom branches. And there would be absolutely no ribbons on the presents to exacerbate her string fetish.

Once the tree was up, Dink surprised us by not trying to climb it. While she batted a little at the bottom branches, she became quickly bored with that occupation and settled for sitting under the tree and watching the lights twinkle on and off. She was content — and surprisingly — calm.

Christmas got closer, and as newlywed luck would have it, I came down with the nastiest stomach virus I’d ever had in my life. I dragged myself home from work, running a fever of 103 degrees and wishing the ground would just swallow me. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep, but unfortunately, it’s hard to do that when your stomach feels like it’s turning itself inside out. So I opted for pulling out the sleeper sofa in the living room and watching television while I waited for my husband to come home.

Dink had never seen the sofa bed opened up, so she jumped up to investigate. As it happened, the sofa bed opened up right next to the tree with all of its shiny ornaments and pretty baubles, and, in Dink’s mind — cat toys — which were now at her eye level and in reach. She took one look at me, and determining that I was in no shape to do anything about it, proceeded to knock the ornaments off the tree — one by one.

I’m not exaggerating at all, that I was never before, nor have I ever been, as sick as I was that week I had the stomach flu — including the week I spent throwing up in the hospital because my doctor didn’t realize I had an intolerance to morphine. I knew that the tree would be in shambles if I didn’t stop the cat, but I didn’t have the energy.

Finally, I decided to reason with her — a sure sign I had passed into some phase of fever-induced delirium, because no one in their right mind would try to reason with a cat.

“Dink,” I began, “Mama’s very sick. I know the ornaments look like a lot of fun to play with, but I just don’t have the energy to deal with you playing with them right now.”

Then my door-frame-climbing, curtain-destroying, back-shredding kitten did something that completely blew my fever-ridden mind. She took one look at me, then walked across the bed to the pillow next to mine, curled up, and went to sleep.

It was a Christmas miracle.

~Fran Veal

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