Memories of Misty

Misty and Me

It was October 2001, barely a month after the attack on the World Trade Center that changed the world, when I had the encounter that changed my world.

I came downstairs into the garage, on my way to work. My garage was fully enclosed, but there were several ways in which a small animal could get inside, not least of which was the pet-hole that the previous occupants had carved into the rear door. (There was also an interior door into the rest of the house, usually kept closed.) This particular morning I came down to discover a cat making itself at home on the bonnet of my car. This was not uncommon—there were several cats in the neighbourhood and they all seemed fond of my garage—but usually they would bolt as soon as I opened the door. This one simply stared at me. I shooed it off my car, and it bolted out the hole in the back door, launched itself to the top of the six-foot fence between my place and the neighbour's yard—and paused there just long enough to give me a look that said "you don't get rid of me that easily!" I went to work and thought no more of it.

The next day I came down into the garage again, to find the same cat sprawled comfortably across my bonnet. I shooed it away. Instead of running away, it jumped down, trotted fearlessly across the floor towards me, rubbed itself around my ankles and demanded loudly: MeeOOWWWWW! Feed me!

"Um, shoo?!"
Only once you feed me!
"But I've got to go to work."
No, you have to FEED ME!
"But I haven't got anything for you..."
Go check your fridge. I'll wait!

So I ran upstairs to see if there was something I could feed a starving cat. All I had were a couple of pork chops that I'd planned for that night's dinner. I took them downstairs, cut one up into bite-sized chunks, and gave it to her. She wolfed the whole thing, and demanded the second; she devoured that in much the same way. Then she jumped up, front paws on my lap, and began nuzzling my beard, and drooling.

"Wow, you are hungry, aren't you?"
What else you got?
"That's it," I told her. "Gotta go to work now. I'll be back tonight."
I'll be here!

And she was. Why would she go anywhere? She'd found a sucker to feed her.

So, I fed her again, thereby sealing the deal. I spent the next few days doing the usual things: calling the RSPCA, speaking to my local vet (and getting her checked out—the cat, not the vet—for general healthiness), and trying to find any possible owner who might be missing her. Knowing her as I came to, I wouldn't be surprised if she'd had her previous owner, uh, disappeared... Either way, I never found anyone else to claim her, so after a month or so I made it official by taking her back to the vet for her first set of shots.

The vet's general feeling at the time was that she was about four years old. It would seem, though, that "about four" is the age they quote when they have absolutely no idea; in that adult stretch there's really no way of telling without cutting them open and counting the rings. Wait, did I get that right? Anyway, I found out it was a guess at best approximately nine years later when I took her in for her regularly scheduled shots, and the vet looked at her and said "is she about four?"

(At the time I decided, on the basis of that, that she was actually immortal and was going to live forever. Of course, she had to prove me wrong...)

However, I'm skipping ahead. Long before I went so far as to make our arrangement official, she was doing her best to prove that I could not live without her.

I decided fairly soon that, while I didn't feel up to looking after a dog—my life was pretty chaotic back then—I could probably handle looking after a cat. After all, cats are low maintenance and generally undemanding, aren't they?

Apparently she never got that memo.

I'd barely had her a week—I was still in the early stages of trying to decide whether I "had her" at all—when I arrived home to find her gone. Almost. Couldn't see her anywhere—but I could hear a distant, pitiful mew mew mew. I looked around everywhere; no sign of her. I went inside, searched everywhere; came back out again. Nothing. Finally, I looked up. And up, and up.

She was on my roof.

My house has two storeys, my roof is a long way from the ground! The first time I ever went up there was to retrieve the cat. I used Mum 'n Dad's extension ladder that they had left behind when they moved out—and with no better plan for getting her down, I took an old blanket up with me. The cat was a little agitated, so I sat with her a while—the roof is high, but has quite a shallow slope—talking and stroking, to soothe her. Then, I quickly bundled her up in the blanket, and dangled her over the edge with some vague idea of dropping her down onto the balcony beneath where I sat.

What happened next seems unlikely, but it's how I remember it. Clearly, she had other ideas about this whole rescue plan. Somehow she escaped from what I thought was a securely-clasped bundle, before I'd released the neck. She came out, headed the wrong way—straight out into open space. Realising her mistake, she turned around in mid air, bolted up my arm and across to the far corner of my roof. I believe they were the first scratches I got from her; they definitely weren't the last.

So I rang Mum, and asked her if I could borrow her cat's carry basket and a length of rope? While I was waiting for them to bring said implements around, I spent ten minutes or so chasing my highly agitated cat around my roof! (Well, I did a whole lot more coaxing than chasing, I suspect!) Finally I got her back in my lap, got her in the box, sealed the box, and lowered it down with the rope.

Easy peasy!

The next day I went out to the vet to buy a carry case for her.

The next week, I got home to find her on the roof again! That was the second time I went up on my roof...

(For those who are thinking "well, she got up there; she can get herself down"—something I heard from more than one person at the time—she really couldn't. After the first roof visit, I figured out that she must have got up there by climbing my Jacaranda tree—fairly obvious, really. It was a huge old thing, and one of the reasons I eventually had to get rid of it was because it hung over the roof. However, the nearest branch was a good couple of metres above the roof; she would climb up, the branch would bend neatly down to deposit her on the roof, and then whip away out of reach, stranding her there...)


0 #2 Pete Jones 2014-06-19 19:58
Quoting Melfka:
Ahhh! Comments at last! ;)

Yep! :-) Although they don't seem to support nested replies, and I'm gonna have to do some CSS tweaking to get them to match the rest of the page! :-)

Quoting Melfka:
... though I don't really like cats (and they don't seem to be very fond of me), I am more of a dog person.

I always considered myself more of a dog person too -- after all, cats don't seem to be fond of anyone! -- but I figured the cat would be "low maintenance" compared to a dog. Wrong on all counts. She was a lot of work, surprisingly needy "for a cat" ... but she was very affectionate, towards me at least. Definitely my cat... :-) And yeah, maybe one day another one will come along -- there are certainly indications that I'm missing the company -- but so far it's been a year and I'm still in no great rush to get another cat. Or dog. Having no dependents has its advantages... :-)

Quoting Melfka:
I remember when I was learning English and have been told something along the lines of: use "he" for boys, "she" for girls and "it" for animals, this is a rule. It didn't sit well with me, as animals, especially pets, were not "it". Only later I've learned that English-speaking people use he/she as well :).

Yeah, we might use "it" if we don't know the sex of the animal (a thought which led me to wonder whether animals can be transgender; I guess that would require some level of self-awareness, though) but on the whole, if we don't know, we're quite likely to use "he" or "she" anyway. I tend to lean towards "he" for dogs and "she" for cats... The less cuddly an animal is -- the less relatable it is -- the more likely we'll fall back on "it"! :-)

Quoting Melfka:
I loved how you called their "the cat", as our dog was called many things besides multiple versions of her name. To amuse you, the one that got her attention almost immediately was "Children! Supper is ready!" - I can tell you she was always first in the kitchen ;).

Yep, I can see how that would work! :-)

I'm not sure what it was, but I was just never comfortable giving her a "human" name -- and "Misty" came about because I felt bad listing her as "Cat" at the vet! Maybe I'd have felt differently if I'd gotten her as a kitten, but I always had this feeling that she didn't need me to start making up names for her. And she responded equally well to "Misty", "Cat", "Puss", or anything else -- which is to say, hardly at all. For a long time, what actually brought her running without fail was a click of my fingers... (Hmm. Maybe she was originally owned by a Kalahari bushman, and *CLICK* was her name... :-) )

Thanks for your comment. (It was my first! ;-) )
+1 #1 Melfka 2014-06-18 13:45
Ahhh! Comments at last! ;)

I don't even know why I clicked on this text, I guess something grabbed me in the first few paragraphs. And then I couldn't stop and had to read to the end. Probably because I can somewhat relate to your story, though I don't really like cats (and they don't seem to be very fond of me), I am more of a dog person.

But then... I remember when I was learning English and have been told something along the lines of: use "he" for boys, "she" for girls and "it" for animals, this is a rule. It didn't sit well with me, as animals, especially pets, were not "it". Only later I've learned that English-speakin g people use he/she as well :).

I loved how you called their "the cat", as our dog was called many things besides multiple versions of her name. To amuse you, the one that got her attention almost immediately was "Children! Supper is ready!" - I can tell you she was always first in the kitchen ;).

And in the end, you didn't lose just "a pet". You lost a family member. Anyone who claims otherwise can be punished in the afterlife by having to read a phonebook through the eternity.
I just hope that one day another "Misty" will come around. She or he won't be the same, but maybe will become yet another family member.

PS On the unrealted note, I am not registering to check if the moderation/addi ng comments works properly ;). I hope your Joomla doesn't eat all the letters I typed. ;)

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