A Burgled Cat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from My Cat

Marcia J. Wick

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Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
~Anatole France

I was twenty-eight years old, recently divorced, and recovering from a sexual assault at my workplace. I moved in with a friend temporarily for support and security. She and her husband lived in a spacious split-level home with a horse barn in western New York.

Shortly after I moved into their downstairs bedroom, my friend discovered a litter of kittens in the barn, premature and abandoned by the mom cat. We carried the sickly brood indoors to warm in her utility room. Soon, the forlorn kittens snoozed in a laundry basket, cozy on towels fresh from the dryer. My optimistic friend contrived a formula and nourished the orphans by bottle. Despite her efforts, each night one of the kittens died. By the end of the week only one lonely feline, looking more like a rat than a cat, remained.

A hapless survivor myself, I clung to the scrawny creature, each of us desperate for comfort. With bug eyes, oversized ears, a round belly, and patchy white fur, the malnourished animal resembled the ancient Jedi teacher, Yoda, from Star Wars.

After six weeks, resolved to make a new start, I packed Yoda in a box, and we drove from New York to our new home in California, “a galaxy far, far away.” Together, we left our troubled past behind. Along the long trip, like the Ugly Duckling, Yoda magically transformed into a snow-white cat. Downy fur covered her bony legs and fluffed out her pink tail. Her ears were soft as velvet. Her bright eyes were green like lucky clover.

Yoda was a gorgeous cat stuck with a silly name. Although she appeared normal, she wasn’t quite right due to her slow start. A scaredy cat, loud noises sent her into hiding. She was skittish with anyone but me. She shied from the outdoors. She never meowed. Perched prettily on a green pillow that accented her eyes, she chirped incessantly from behind the protective window at unruly squirrels, yard birds, and bugs. Yoda welcomed me home after work each day with twittering to rival any robin.

Yoda and I struggled over the rough road together. We were constant companions, riding tandem. Unfortunate like me, Yoda was my soul mate, my anchor, my reason to persevere. But, before long, bad news struck again.

One day, I returned from work to discover the back door of my duplex apartment in Oakland had been kicked in. Our safe home had been violated. Burglars had ransacked the place but failed to find much of value. At first glance, it appeared the thieves had made off only with a glass jar full of spare change and a plain gold ring — a reminder of my unfortunate first marriage. No real loss, I thought.

Then, I realized Yoda, my most priceless possession, was missing. I ravaged the apartment, more desperate than a robber searching for valuables. My slow-witted companion was gone. How many hours had passed since the kitchen door had been kicked in? The harsh banging would surely have sent Yoda scrambling for a hiding place. If she had bolted and was sheltering outside, chances weren’t good that she could survive.

My landlady repaired the door. Two days passed. I dragged myself to work and home without purpose. I called her name again and again, but Yoda didn’t appear. It seemed an impossible loss. Was I destined to encounter evil over and over?

On the third night, alone and fighting back tears, I detected faint scratching coming from under the couch. Could it be a rat? I froze, listening to the stirring. I was afraid to put my feet on the floor and look under the sofa. Where was the critter? The assault, burglary, Yoda’s disappearance, and my solitude exaggerated my fear. Was it my imagination, or had the cushion under my bottom shifted? A prick to my rear compelled me to jump from the couch and scream. I kicked the cushion to expose the varmint. A sharp claw ripped the covering, and a bony leg with matted fur probed the air.

“Yoda?!” My burgled cat scrambled out from the springs. I scooped my hungry friend from her secret hidey-hole and showered her with water, food, and grateful tears.

Reunited, Yoda and I slowly recovered from yet another trauma. Over time, she grew fat and our luck improved. Through bad times and good, she remained my faithful friend, my fearless Jedi.

In the corner of the couch that had sheltered her as a kitten, sixteen years later, Yoda curled into a white ball. Her green eyes closed. Her velvet ears tucked in like little angel wings. She was transformed again from my swan-like cat into my guardian angel. Well done, my good and faithful Jedi.

— Marcia J. Wick —

Reprinted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC 2023. In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.

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