Then Pinky came into my life.
Whenever they met in the house, my loaner cat stiffened at the sight of the other. She averted her head from my caress. If I happened to serve Pinky her dish of cat milk first, she marched out of the house. I had to run after her and carry her in. She purred thunderously at that. What a fraud! And how human. (A note about the milk: cats cannot digest ordinary milk, but lactose-free milk worked.)
To my sorrow, she came less and less often. Pinky consoled me and, furthermore, I had her at night.
Loaner did drop in one evening while Pinky lay on my lap. They made eye contact. Pinky’s heart thumped hard on my knee.
My encounters with Loaner outside, in the backyard or somewhere on the block, were always joyous ones. There, she reverted to her old self, rubbing against me and offering me her white belly to scratch. Once, while in the car, I saw her entering a yard far from home. Her looks are distinctive: big belly and shaggy coat, as well as her special face. I pulled over and called to her. She turned and replied, though I couldn’t hear her.
Not long ago I was entering my garage when I spotted her chasing after me down the driveway. I got out of the car, dropping everything, and scooped her into my arms. We cuddled, I crooned, she drooled. I had purchased jumbo shrimp for Pinky’s treats, and tore open the package and began breaking off little pieces for Loaner. She ate hungrily. I fed her another. Shrimp is rich for cats, I know. Should I give her one more? She pawed the package, and I caved in and gave her a third one.
Smelling the shrimp, Pinky came into the garage, and Loaner pushed away from me and walked off.
Face-to-face meetings between the two in the house were often rambunctious. Hearing noises coming from the bedroom, I investigated. From under the bedskirt, Pinky’s slim black paws were sparring with Loaner. Then she dashed out from cover and fled through the house. She raced around and around like a mad thing, while Loaner rampaged in the bedroom. When both left the house, I went around straightening rugs and picking up toppled objects on tables. There’s life in this old house, I thought. Good going.
No matter how much time passes, Loaner remains the same with me – as long as we are alone together. How human that is.