Pinky and raccoons

At the usual hour after dawn I rise and fix myself cereal. No sign of Pinky. I fetch the paper but cannot bring myself to read it. Back to bed to stare at a Pinky-less future.
At about 8:00 a.m. I see her flagpole of a tail headed past my bedroom doorway toward my office, then back the other way. Then she emits tiny cries, no doubt looking for me.
We meet in the kitchen. I am dying to know so many things: did she encounter the raccoons? Was she hiding from them? Otherwise, what has she been doing until this hour of the day? Instead, I settle for fixing her special breakfast, Savory Salmon Dinner.

I happen to be in the hallway, crossing to the living room, when she explodes through the pet door. Close behind her is a raccoon. I move fast and latch the pet door, while Pinky and the raccoon stare at each other through the glass, Pinky whining angrily high in her throat. The next thing I do is open the door and yell “Scat! Go away!” It lumbers off, not quickly.
I go to bed, unnerved that she can be killed as easily as she kills mice and birds. It’s fair, I suppose, and she is equable about it. Yet that night she stays high under my arm and does not move away the entire time. I need the same comfort she is seeking.

 

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Pinky and shrimp

Pinky knows what those rustling noises mean. I am getting her two big shrimp out of the bag in the freezer. Before they are in the microwave to defrost, she has taken her place on the counter. Chopping the shrimp requires agility to keep ahead of her as I move from counter to counter to stovetop until the feast is ready. Watching her eat brings out every drop of the one-fourth Italian in me. “Mangia, mangia,” I say, beaming, my hands clasped over my stomach. It is a satisfaction life seldom affords the average cook.

The treat was intended to be once a week. That proved difficult. It seemed a long stretch to me, too. I spaced the treat to five days, then three days. Now it is every second day. This is where we stand, my last stand.

At the substitute, a teaspoon of ice cream mashed in my hand, she turns her back, though she does not leave the kitchen. It is a comment on lack of shrimp, but there is room to negotiate. I dab a little ice cream on her nose, which she licks clean. She moves a few inches away, and I dab some more ice cream. Finally, she turns and grudgingly approaches my cupped hand. In a few seconds, my palm is licked dry. I know I have spoiled her, yet still I smile like a fool. “Spoil” is a relative word: Pinky does not have to attend college, get a job, or move out on her own.

Trapper’s meow

The mouse has begun to pull insulation from the stove. Whenever I look there I see tufts of fibers all over the back of it, behind the bottom drawer. Is it a nest in progress? In a panic, I call an exterminator company. The technicians who come are two large men, one carrying a clipboard. They make me feel as though the Marines have arrived and will have the situation under control very soon.

I assume they will pull the stove out from the wall and trap the mouse in no time at all. Instead, they bait several new traps they have brought, borrowing my peanut butter, and laid those down along with some glue traps. I have had glue traps in there also, but theirs are larger. They show me how I have set the triggers on my traps incorrectly, then they go down to the basement and look around the crawl space under the house. They spread a few more traps around that area. One is a large one in case my mouse is a rat.

They take my $200 and hand me a service warranty good for thirty days. After they leave, I remove the traps in the basement crawl space. Pinky likes to roam around there while I do the laundry. If any mice or rats exist there she will catch them. After all, she caught the one outside in the wild that now lives in our house, and seven or eight more that I managed to throw out in the backyard.

Pinky and Loaner

Loaner has grown very fat. She eats all she can, and asks for more. Perhaps she is pregnant. All I need do is glance out my kitchen window and I will see her sitting on the railing looking at me. Unwilling to grapple with the pet door, she waits to be noticed and let in. I wave, and we arrive at the same moment at the patio door. Her weight worries me. It might be that her owner has put her on a diet and so she turns to me or eats elsewhere. Perhaps I should keep my head down and pretend not to see her. As I think it I know it is impossible to ignore her.

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.

Breakfast maneuvers

It is always an ordeal when I try to apply Pinky’s monthly flea drops. Last month she struggled and got away from me. She stayed clear of me all day while I worried about how I would get this job done. I decided there was no way but to ambush her when she jumped on the bed, if she was still of a mind to join me there that night. Apparently, she believed she was safe on the bed, for she came. I clamped an arm around her and did the deed. At that she looked around at me, clearly in disbelief that I would stoop to such a betrayal of trust.

In a flash she was gone. My heart felt heavy as a tomb. Whether she was pussy cat or human, betraying a trust is not an easy sin to commit. She did not come back that night.

Next morning she did not climb to the kitchen windowsill for her breakfast, but watched me from the doorway. I could not read those green lantern-shine eyes. Do you want your breakfast? I tapped the saucer. She turned, went outside through the pet door. I pushed the saucer through the pet door and set it down on the mat, and she bent to eat. Next day, we were friends again, for she jumped up to the windowsill and watched me fix her breakfast. But when I put the plate on the sill she came down and hid under the furniture. I followed and set the saucer down, but then she moved to the pet door and went through, where she lingered, looking in at me.

Big light bulb over my head! She wanted to see her breakfast appear again through the pet door!

Shrimp treats

Pinky knows what those rustling noises mean. I am getting her two big shrimp out of the bag in the freezer. Before they are in the microwave to defrost, she has taken her place on the counter. Chopping the shrimp requires agility to keep ahead of her as I move from counter to counter to stovetop until the feast is ready. Watching her eat brings out every drop of the one-fourth Italian in me. “Mangia, mangia,” I say, beaming, my hands clasped over my stomach. It is a satisfaction life seldom affords the average cook.

The treat was intended to be once a week. That proved difficult. It seemed a long stretch to me, too. I spaced the treat to five days, then three days. Now it is every second day. This is where we stand, my last stand.

At the substitute, a teaspoon of ice cream mashed in my hand, she turns her back, though she does not leave the kitchen. It is a comment on lack of shrimp, but there is room to negotiate. I dab a little ice cream on her nose, which she licks clean. She moves a few inches away, and I dab some more ice cream. Finally, she turns and grudgingly approaches my cupped hand. In a few seconds, my palm is licked dry. I know I have spoiled her, yet still I smile like a fool. “Spoil” is a relative word: Pinky does not have to attend college, get a job, or move out on her own.

Cat dreams

On cool nap days, Pinky lies bundled up and tucked in. Her back is to me. I poke her in the hip and say, “Come on, gimme a leg,” and she does. She sticks out a leg for me to hold.

And on another cool day, my one exposed hand was cold and I nudged her with it and said playfully, “Get this one under, too, please.” Before I knew it, she had swept that hand into her warm, furry haven.

Sometimes I awake to a sensation of a light touch across my face. It is Pinky, her back to me, as her tail sweeps back and forth.

I like to slide my feet under the blanket, under her, and bounce, hard, while singing, from South Pacific, “Talk about the moon, talk about the stars.” She hangs tight, her tail whipping about for balance.

One time at night she placed all four paws in my hand. I thought muzzily about this. Between dreams I mused about this cat who came into my life.

Why did she come to my door and look inside if she didn’t know me and was scared of me? Why follow me for days and days until that turning point when she spoke her piece?

Why did Loaner come inside and, without having been courted, show me such sweetness?