I have scratch marks in various places on my carpet, little paw prints on my windowsill, and a specially laid out fleece on my couch.
And I don’t even have a cat.
But a cat definitely has me.
The first time I met the cat, it was meowing on my windowsill. I was worried it was lost so I opened the window and it casually walked in.
I posted a picture of the cat on our local community Facebook page, asking if anyone had lost one.
Several people thought it was theirs. One was certain it was theirs and asked me to make sure not to feed it because it was on medication. By the end of the day, when we established where that person lives in relation to me, we decided her cat couldn’t have wandered as far off as I live.
The cat wandered about my living room a bit, then placed itself at one end of the couch and went to sleep. I was really tired that day, so I eventually had a nap myself. When we woke up, Cat signaled to me it was time to leave, I opened the window, and it was gone.
I didn’t see it again for about two weeks. I was working at my desk in my home office with my window open and it jumped up and in. Over the next month, it visited another three times. It really doesn’t like me working at my computer. It walks all over the laptop until I stop typing and focus my attention where it evidently is supposed to be: scratching her, not with one hand, that’s never enough, with both.
Over a period of a month-and-a-half, Cat paid infrequent visits and stayed for a short period of time. Sometimes I’d have to pick it up and let it out because I was leaving the house to run an errand. Others, it would decide it had had enough of me and would leave of its own accord. I never gave it food or even water. All it ever gets from me is what I can only assume are absolutely glorious head and neck massages.
In the past week, things have changed. When I wake up in the morning some time around 6:30AM, Cat is always standing at my living room windowsill meowing, fully expecting to come in for a wander and sometimes a nap.
I often have a gym session in the mornings, so I let it out when I get up to leave. It’s not always happy about that, especially if it has been comfortably napping on the couch.
Cat then comes back around 7pm and stays until exactly 8:57pm. At that exact time, it perks its head up, looks at the window letting us know where it’s heading, and someone gets up and opens it and it leaves. No goodbyes, no nothing. I’m betting 9pm is food time.
I had been worrying the past month-and-a-half that Cat’s humans might not like it that it was visiting someone else’s house. I had been making sure not to give it anything but my glorious massages, a lap to rest in every now and then, and a corner of the couch to slouch on when it wants. But now that Cat’s visits were becoming much more frequent, I decided I needed to overcome my social anxiety and knock on the door of the neighbors I suspected it belonged to.
When I walked up to their door, I noticed another tabby cat perched on their fence. It wasn’t THE cat. I was confused. Is this not Cat’s home? Or does Cat have a sister?
I immediately remembered the day Cat was sitting at my office window, looking threateningly at another approaching tabby cat. When the other cat stood in our driveway just watching, Cat jumped out of my window and hissed the other cat away. I thought it was funny. Cat didn’t want to share me. When I saw this second cat on the neighbors’ fence, I started wondering if Cat had hissed away its own sister!
I knocked on the door and a nice young man opened.
The other cat scrambled in.
“Hi. I’m your neighbor from up the drive. Uhhh, do you have another cat? Other than that one?” I asked.
He had a worried look on his face.
“Yeah. She has an almost identical sister.”
“Well, I wanted to let you know that it’s been visiting my house rather frequently these days.”
Another worried look.
“Oh no no. It’s the friendliest cat in the whole world!” I reassured him.
And I started telling him the story.
“Do come in,” he insisted. “My wife needs to hear this.”
I walked in to a lovely house with a lovely couple who have two very young children. The youngest was an infant sitting in her high chair with spaghetti all over her cute little face.
I told them what their cat, a girl named Poppy it turns out, had been doing behind their backs.
Steve thought it was adorable. Rachael couldn’t make heads or tails of it. “Poppy is the one of the two cats that’s not very affectionate. She can scratch sometimes,” she said. Steve wondered if Poppy was trying to get a break from the little ones.
I told them I just wanted to make sure they were all right with Poppy spending some time with me. Steve especially said it was more than fine. I think Rachael just couldn’t understand how we were talking about the same cat and was in a bit of a shock.
“Well, if you’re ever away and you need help taking care of the cats, do let me know,” I offered. Poppy was already comfortable around me and I’d be delighted, I said.
I knew Poppy came from a loving house. I could tell by how nice and friendly she was. I felt so privileged to meet her family and to have permission to let her visit me every now and then.
This morning I woke up at my usual time, opened my bedroom window, and looked out to see what kind of a day it was going to be. I could see some blue in the sky. A good sign.
When I looked down, I thought I saw something on the grass. A blob of some sort. I put my glasses on. It was a very dead rat.
I had heard about this behavior. I was aware that cats sometimes bring home dead birds and mice.
I did a quick search on the Internet.
It’s normal instinctive cat behavior to catch these small animals. Laying one on my lawn could mean that Poppy was presenting me with a gift or that she was showing off her excellent hunting skills. Either way, it wasn’t something that I should get mad at, the Internet told me.
Apparently, Poppy loves me.
I had to dispose of a dead rat today. I had never done anything of the sort before. It was a traumatic experience, but anything for Poppy (and to make sure the next-door neighbor’s little children didn’t get their hands on it first).
Yesterday I was looking at scratching posts in a pet shop. I had never been to a pet shop before. Scratching posts are expensive. And I probably shouldn’t make Poppy feel THAT at home in my house anyway.
I have never had a pet. I’ve been wondering if I had it in me to take care of another of God’s creatures, especially since I travel so often. Poppy has made me make up my mind. I need to have a cat in my life. I’ll wait till we’re back from our next short weekend away and I’ll go to the local cat shelter and see if any of the cats there want to love me as much as Poppy does. I have to admit that I worry that Poppy might get jealous if she visits and finds someone else in the house. I also worry that new cat won’t be as loving as Poppy. Poppy has set the cat standard very high.
Poppy has made me feel like The Chosen One.
I love you, Poppy.