In these Oakland hills in northern California, the invader could have been a fox, a squirrel, or the usual raccoon or skunk. We have opossums, which do not move quickly no matter how alarmed. Some nights we hear a cougar scream in the woods, and one evening as Renato and I rounded the curve on our road, our headlights caught the green gleam of a cougar’s eyes. The distance between us was about 100 feet. Renato braked, and we sat still, staring. The lion was bigger than a German Shepherd, a tawny color, and its rounded shoulders as it sat were bigger than my own, or my husband’s for that matter. Its supple tail flew behind it as it ran off.
The last contact I had with him occurred at 1:25 a.m. Saturday when he bounced onto my bed, meowed, and took off again. He is a world traveler, or thinks he is, and at one year he has been ranging farther and farther from home. He will slip outside behind me whenever I go to fetch the morning paper and I have seen him running back to me from across the street. Then there is the cat door leading to the deck and backyard leading to fences leading to other spaces.
There are predators in these hills, bobcats and foxes and coyotes and even raptors from above. There are the usual cars and loose neighborhood dogs.
I knew all this, yet I could no more confine this pussycat spirit than I would have a mountain lion, which also roam hereabouts. Mojo is unlike my big girl Loaner, who is content to remain indoors sleeping or lying in the sun near the lemon tree much as my lost Pinky and Tango used to do. Mojo is Mojo.
I am struggling to speak of him in the present tense though my heart knows otherwise. There is small hope any of the posters I have put up in the neighborhood or the Lost Kitty message on Nextdoor.com, our online network, will produce any results. Why do I continue to seek a broken heart with each new pussycat entity?
Will there be no more toss-and-catch games with his yarn ball? He has brought me gifts in early mornings and I have always been leery of what my hand may encounter when I grope for it in the dark. So far, only pebbles or bark or a large leaf. He has tried to bring in a long stick through the cart door and needed help with it. Like any juvenile, his boisterous play with Loaner has not always been met with appreciation but she always came around. Their naps head to head have made me smile. Humans who have cat companions understand the odd warmth engendered by such a sight.
My chronicle “Mojo’s Way” tells of his beginnings with me and I am so afraid there will be no more to add.