Remember Five Tales of a Lost Teddy? This is very similar, except I have my characters all interacting with cats.
Cats didn’t like Willow nearly as much as he wanted to like them. They were so universally considered mystical and secretive, and anyone loved by cats tended to have something unique about them. Given that, Willow couldn’t be particularly surprised that he didn’t easily attract feline companions. But it made him sad all the same.
This particular one was scraggly and thin, and Willow just happened to have a cheese stick in his pocket, so his odds were much better than the average day as he approached the cat. She paused in her fitful attempts to wash her face and stared at Willow indecisively.
With the minimum amount of crinkling, he stripped the plastic packaging from the cheese and separated a segment. Then he knelt, held it out, and waited.
The cat didn’t like him, he was sure. It was just trying to decide if its dislike for him outweighed its desire for what Willow was holding. Eventually, hunger won out, and the cat approached. It sniffed Willow’s fingers before examining the treat, like a restaurant patron who checks the table for grease before bothering to check the menu.
Pixie jumps onto the counter and I collect her into one of those big, enormous hugs that makes her squirm every time, but it’s her own fault for being so soft and adorable. Once I determine that she has been thoroughly loved upon, I return her to the floor and sit down with her to deposit slips of meat in her mouth.
I love Pixie. Truly. She’s one of the best things about having my own place. Dad was never into animals, so I grew up without them, and I never realized how much I missed out until recently.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, having Cider around was fantastic when I lived with Bethany, but I knew I shouldn’t take him with me when I moved out. My new job would leave Cider alone for most of the day, and I didn’t want to do that to him.
Cats seemed like a far more self-sufficient alternative. Apparently, I’m a cat person after all! And a dog person. And if I got a bird I’d probably be a bird person, too. I just love animals.
Cider brings a ball to the cat to see if it knows the game ‘Go get it!’ Apparently it does not know this game either. The new animal is certainly very boring.
Perhaps it knows the game ‘roll around on the floor’? Cider tries this, and the cat doesn’t join in. Instead, it plays the game, ‘swipe Cider on the nose with its very sharp claws.’ Cider absolutely hates this game, and he even suspects that it is not a real game at all.
Mommy comes into the room and says, “Hey there! Are you two getting along?” She gives cuddles to both Cider and the cat. Cider gets cuddles first, which is only fair since he has been trying all day to teach the cat games, and the cat isn’t cooperating.
“I know, it’s weird, isn’t it, boy?” Mommy says, stroking Cider’s ears. “It’s just for a couple days, okay? You’re being such a good dog!”
Good dog! Oh, wonderful! Cider is happy to hear it. He worried that Mommy would be cross because he hadn’t taught the cat any games. Cider barks and gives Mommy kisses.
Mommy finds the ball on the floor and holds it up. “Hey, what’s this, huh? What is it?”
Oh, yes! Excellent! Many of Cider’s favorite games start with ‘What’s this?’
“You want it, boy? You want it?” Mommy throws the ball into the hallway. “Go get it, Cider!”
‘Go get it!’ This was exactly the game Cider was trying to teach the cat. What luck! What a perfect day this has turned out to be! Cider bounds down the hallway. Time to show the cat how it’s done.
The kitten is cute—very cute, actually—but you can’t find it in yourself to be happy about the new addition to your household. The cat was a sign of defeat, a reminder that this is the closest to a baby you would ever get.
You reach out and pet it, and it flops over to one side to bat at your fingers. Adorable beyond measure. And yet this doesn’t even bring a smile to your lips, and this thought alone makes you consider taking it back.
But you make no movement—physical or otherwise—to carry out this plan. Your therapist has informed you that you tend to be all or nothing, and therefore are left with nothing most of the time. Yes, the kitten wasn’t a child, but you should still at least make the effort to enjoy it, because you weren’t going to have a child.
That stray was at the station again. It had been a long night until that point, so I welcomed the animal as a distraction, even letting it into my office because it was cold outside. I knew I really ought to take it to a shelter, but that place was named ironically and we all knew it. Everyone in Chagrin Heights who wanted a pet already had one.
I stared at my computer while the cat explored the contents of my desk. Someone would be in soon enough to inform me that I really ought to go home. And maybe they were right, but my home was quiet and empty and I could be of little use there.
The cat nuzzled at my hand, and at first I let myself believe that it was sensing my sadness, but then I remembered that cats are often miscredited with that kind of empathy. Still, enough people genuinely did take comfort in cats, and there had to be a reason for that.
“I’ll bet someone wants you,” I murmured to the cat, and to myself if I wanted to get philosophical about it. “I’ll bet they just don’t know it yet.”
If you’re curious about
these characters, you can
find their book here.