Here is my Chicken Soup for the Soul submission….what do you think?
He sat alone in his cage. Another day. Another meal. How had he ended up in a small cage surrounded by loud, strange cats and nice but strange people called volunteers?
She sat alone 600 miles away, looking at her computer. Time to move again. She didn’t know much about Buffalo, New York, but she knew there would be snow, lots of it. After 7 years in Washington, D.C. without a pet, she longed for one. She missed cuddling with her previous cats – Samantha and Sassafras. Samantha passed while she was in Kentucky, and Sassafras passed in California. The DC job had too much travel to be fair to a pet, but the new position wouldn’t have as much travel, so it was time. She looked on the Buffalo Animal Shelter’s website to see who needed her.
Knowing the stories about how black cats were mistreated, she stated that she would be happy with a black, adult cat. There was one available said the kind lady volunteer. However, the kind lady told her about another cat that had been with the shelter for 6 months. He was getting anxious, and the volunteer was afraid that he would soon become unadoptable. Would she consider a gray tabby cat instead? So, on her first Friday in Buffalo, she drove to pick up the gray tabby cat.
The gray tabby cat, named Cory by the volunteers, was 16 pounds and didn’t like all the cats and noise around him. When the lady looked in on him, he turned his back on her. She said, “Dude, it’s you and me. I’m all you got, so you better learn to like me.” He looked back over his shoulder and stared at her. And that is how Cory the Cat adopted me.
I paid for him, drove him to my new loft, and unloaded him and all the cat supplies. He walked out of the carrier, sniffed around for a bit, and then settled down on my best couch, the one with the beautiful Italian linen. I looked at the two cat beds that I just purchased and questioned if they would ever be used. They wouldn’t. At bedtime, I told Cory T. Cat, “It’s time for bed.” He looked at me, got down off the couch, and walked to the bedroom. He jumped on the bed, where he slept that night and many more on my right shoulder, purring pleasantly in my ear.
His first weekend in the new loft was exciting. As I unloaded moving boxes, he played hide and seek with the mounds of wrapping paper, and jumped in and out of the boxes. He enjoyed living in the loft. The 12-foot windows gave him great ‘cat television’ as he watched the birds flying around him. The long hallway was his soccer field where he ran jingle balls up and down it. The living area with the couches, footstools, and tables served as a great obstacle course when he played with flying toys. In no time at all, he was down to 12 pounds, a weight he has kept since.
At Christmas, I put up a small tree on the breakfast table. Cory T. Cat immediately assumed the tree was for him so I chose wooden ornaments. Twelve of the ornaments I placed on the tree were Olive Wood ones that I picked up in Bethlehem many years before. Cory became obsessed with two of these – one showing the Baby Jesus, and one showing the Holy Family in the familiar crèche/manger scene. No matter how many times I put them on the tree, he would pull them off, roll over them, love them with his face, and then lay on them. He never bothered any other ornaments or the garland or lights, but he would not leave those two ornaments on the tree. So, I left them loose under the tree. Each evening, he would roll on them and then lay on them and sleep.
Our companionship grew. We played together, watched television together, watched the snow and sites from the window together, and got to know each other. He ‘helped’ me read my books, and ‘helped’ me type on my laptop. When the Buffalo winters were at their worst and all the birds were gone for the season, I would play YouTube videos of birds on my laptop for him. He would enjoy them while I read books, as we waited for spring.
Two years later I received word that I was moving again, this time to Honolulu. I was worried about the move for Cory T. Cat. He hated loud noises and being crated up in his carrier to go for his regular nail clippings. How would he survive a long plane trip? Also, there was a 4-month quarantine before he could join me. How would he do in foster care after having been abandoned once before? Would he think I was abandoning him?
I moved to Honolulu in November. Cory T. Cat joined me in February. After twelve hours in a crate, he walked out as if he hadn’t just flown all the way across the country and halfway across the Pacific Ocean. He wandered around and found the bed. I joined him there, and he quickly settled down on my right shoulder and started purring as if no time had passed at all.
The Honolulu condo is very different from the New York loft. Along with bedroom windows, complete with a cat tree to watch the birds and the neighbors, and kitchen windows complete with a counter for soaking up the sun and watching the children play in the pool below, there is a screened-in lanai. It looks over palm trees where doves and other birds sit and daily ‘talk’ with Cory T. Cat, who ‘talks’ back to them. Cory T. Cat is kept busy socializing with the birds, the children, and all the neighbors.
This Christmas I took out my decorations and sat up a small tree on the kitchen counter for Cory T. Cat. As I rediscovered my Olive Wood ornaments again, I wondered, would Cory T Cat remember them? As a test, I put them on the back of the tree, and then pushed the back of the tree against the window.
When Cory T. Cat got up from his nap, he walked over to the tree and sniffed it out. Almost immediately, he started head butting the tree away from the window until he could get behind the tree. Once there, he found his two favorite ornaments – Baby Jesus, and the Holy Family crèche/manger scene. He pulled them off the tree and nudged them around until they were at the front of the tree. Then he rolled over them again and again. Soon, he had settled down for a nap on them. Cory T. Cat may now be a Hawaiian cat, one that loves watching kids in the pool and talking with birds on his lanai, but, he has never forgotten his special ornaments on his tree that signaled his Christmas season.