Then, one evening, I came home and spotted Miss Dusty, no other, hiding under some shrubbery in the back yard. How had she done this? Come up the basement stairs, gone through the house and exited through the pet door? Never mind. I rejoiced at her self-liberation and placed food at the door of the patio. Of course, every raccoon in the woods appeared first, but I persisted until she came up the patio steps and, scared and uncertain, she found the food and ate.
Though it was the middle of March and cold, I left the patio door ajar. On the third day, she entered the house. Pinky began to bristle, and Miss Dusty faced off with her!
The visiting cats were merely curious and Pinky settled down to circling around the new one. Tango lost out. Miss Dusty took possession of the thick sleeping pad I had bought Tango, who liked to stay overnight now and then. Well, there were lots of other places she could crash. Now we had a full house every night in the bedroom, Pinky sharing my bed, and Miss Dusty on her sleeping pad. I made plans to have her bathed, vaccinated, and that Mohawk shaved. In the meantime, she always slept facing me, her thunderous purring loud in the room.
One day I take it in my head to make a beef stew. All the good stews I used to prepare took hours of simmering that now seem absurd in my solitary existence, but this day I mean to have myself one of those.
Pinky watches the process of chopping, peeling, scraping, but when it comes to cutting the beef I have to flee around the counters ahead of her as I do when chopping shrimp.
I am going to show you, I say to Pinky, what a home-cooked meal tastes like.
As I dish out the stew, I set some aside on a plate for her. She sniffs, then turns her head aside and throws up.
Pinky, the food editor.
And then there is Miss Dusty. A neighbor died and I adopted her cat, a handsome gray with a white diamond on her chest and white feet. She had no tail, having lost it in an accident at home. I understood that Miss Dusty had not met with another human being or cat for eight years. This became obvious when she led her owner’s daughter-in-law and me on a chase throughout the house, in and out of one entrapment and another. After a month, we captured her at last. Her coat was a sad mess; her back was matted and stood up in a hard-looking Mohawk.
I thought to start her out in my basement until she acclimated to her surroundings. Time enough to acquaint her with the cats upstairs. There was nothing I could do about having her cleaned and brushed; I was, simply, afraid to touch her even if I could catch her.
Each time I went downstairs she growled, then the growls diminished, changing to meows. I tried singing to her. At “Over the Rainbow” she emerged, grudgingly, from her hiding place under a shelf, and allowed me to scratch her head. I tried not to make any sudden moves, but even so she swiped at me with a paw now and then. But we had begun a friendship!