I love cats in general, and every few years I feel the urge to get a kitten. Most of the time I don’t act on that urge but sometimes the timing is right. Like a couple of years ago when we just had Mama Kitty. She’s been here with us for quite a while now. Mama Kitty showed up on our front porch going on eleven years ago, when my youngest son Liam was two. The kids fed her a cut up hotdog and that sealed the deal in her mind. She was a tiny, scrawny muted calico – now after a decade, she’s a tiny, round, beautiful Mama Kitty, a huntress of great skill, a force to be reckoned with if you are a squirrel, a lizard, or much to my dismay, a baby songbird. We can talk about that later though.
Mama Kitty is fiercely loyal. Once she decided we were her people, she was never going anywhere else again. She is the only cat I’ve ever had that like to go for walks with us. Whenever any of us decided to take a stroll around the block or through the rest of the neighborhood, Mama Kitty would follow behind as though she didn’t want to miss any squirrels we might she. She always forgot about the dogs though. Mama Kitty could only go with us as far as the first home with a barking dog. At that point she had to turn around. It was the end of the line for her.
For several years, Mama Kitty was the only animal living in the Gasperson household. And rightly so, if you asked her about it. She was the only animal worthy of a spot. So the day that Darin brought home a kitten he found at a job site – that was not a good day. Don’t get me wrong. The kitten was beautiful. He was a silvery dark grey, reminiscent of a Russian Blue. He had a solid zen personality; affable and friendly as long as you didn’t hold him when he wasn’t in the mood. Baby Kitty, as he would be called, was more than happy to be friends with Mama Kitty, but she wasn’t having it. She peed a gigantic angry cat pee on Ian’s bed, soaking and destroying a brand new mattress pad. After that, she was never really the same. She mewled and howled at Baby Kitty, keeping a large distance between them and rushing at him with claws akimbo if he dared to breach the perimeter.
We had Baby Kitty for about five years before he disappeared. It was right around Independence Day. We wondered if the loud noises had spooked him; we half expected to see him as road pizza in the neighborhood somewhere after having run out in front of a car. One day I was out in my garage shop working on jewelry orders and I smelled something. Just faint, and really only coming through the little fan I kept there to cool me. It was peculiar. I couldn’t determine the source of this odor and it was sporadic enough not to warrant any action.
The house next door was vacant, a casualty of the mortgage crisis. Our neighbors had purchased the home at the height of the bubble and were not able to keep up the payments when everything crashed. Can you be more upside down than upside down? The house had been ridiculously overvalued. Anyway, they had been in a very slow process of moving out, a few things at a time, and were in and out a few times a week. Finally, they were done. The house was empty, sort of. Darin peeked in the windows and saw some interesting stuff in there. Ian, the adventurer, found that the garage door was unlocked, went in, and made the gruesome discovery. Baby Kitty’s decomposing body lay there. He had been trapped in the garage for at least a week with no food or water. With all the comings and goings, he’d probably gone over to say hello and the neighbors had mistakenly shut him in.
We all shudder to think about what poor Baby Kitty must have gone through in that garage. Darin and Ian retrieved the body and buried poor Kitty in the backyard under the big oak tree.
Mama Kitty was alone again.