You don't choose a cat. A cat chooses you, according to my grandpa.
A persistent cat from the neighborhood decided to adopt me.
On a hot summer evening, two huge longing eyes appeared at the kitchen door, accompanied by serenading meows. He did not flinch when I approached him. I started speaking baby talk. I don't know why, but there seems to be a neurological explanation for that. The cat, which I would later call simply Cat, seemed pleased.
I gently stroked behind his grey ears. He lay on his back and let me feel the softness of his white furry belly, and he purred loudly with gratitude.
In appreciation of the fact that my affections had been reciprocated, I opened a can of tuna. Cat scoffed at it and left. (So much for reciprocal gratitude)
I thought nothing more about it. Cat was back a few days later, and we both acted like long-lost friends. There was petting and cuddling. I gave him some food, and this time he ate loudly. Then he went again.
These meetings soon became a daily routine and something I looked forward to. Cat was used to coming into the house and, taking a nap on the couch. When I went to sleep I put him outside again. Cat did not seem to mind.
My evenings were fun. The stress of the day dissolved, as Cat and I watched television curled up together in the evening. It didn't occur to me then that Cat could probably be living with someone.
After a few months I bought a pet bed for Cat so he could relax, and special bowls for his food and drink. I went to work with cat hair on my clothes, and I smiled in anticipation of getting together in the evening. Everyone kept asking me how "my" cat was doing, and I replied as if the cat was mine, and showed pictures of Cat on my Instapage. I did my very best to ignore my new status: catnapper. Oh well, cats are persevering and live on their own terms I consoled my bad conscience.
Animals are better than people, my grandfather always said. Animals don't lie and they don't kill for fun. They cannot harm you with the pain people inflict on each other and their environment. Innocence belongs to animals and not to humans.
Cat liked the steam in the shower, so he followed me into the bathroom, sat on the sink, waiting for the hot water to rise. When I took off my clothes I always got the feeling that he was staring at me in a "biblical" way. He looked me up and down, made eye contact without flinching, and for a fleeting moment it left me feeling scandalized. But Cat was a gentleman.
He was a bit plump, and his round belly made it sometimes difficult for him to reach the places where he had to groom himself.
Cat was brave too. He once competed against a dog that was many times bigger than him. It was a beautiful and intelligent dog, and his owner assured me that he liked cats. But Cat was skeptical. He continued to treat the dog with suspicion. As soon as his gaze caught the dog, he began to huff and puff, arch his back, making him look twice his size, and began repeatedly slapping the dog's nose with his claws. He hissed and jeered until the dog stood perplexed and startled or ran off with his tail between his legs.
He was also a watchdog (cat). He often sat by the window, and when he started meowing (his tell-tale distress call) that let me know that rioters were hanging around our yard. Mostly kids with their trendy and brightly colored nerf guns and boom blasters. Fortunately, he always chased them away: they never came in...
And then my affair came to a sudden end: Cat disappeared. I waited days and nights, calling Cat into the sad abyss of my garden. I felt robbed and abandoned. I started imagining all sorts of scenarios of what could have happened to Cat: I was worried that he might have been run over and was lying in a ditch somewhere. I sat for hours looking at the empty cat bed and the untouched food bowls. The cat hairs on my clothes became scarce...
One fine autumn day, my beloved cat went missing, I wrote in my diary. The thought that I had lost him forever loomed before me like the gates of Hades.
Did I lose Cat in an accident in the street? The inattention of a car driver in a speeding car, or was it a petty thief preying on charismatic pets?
I mused how Cat's friendly demeanor could play to his advantage as well as against him, depending on the people he would encounter. I continued my search and hurried to an alley where the city sometimes put rat poison. I searched for him in nooks and ledges. In neighbors’ yards and called Cat until my voice went hoarse.
I tried to push the thoughts of doom out of my head. I had to find him: I searched everywhere and approached passers-by (sometimes the same people, more than once). I journaled every day about how much I missed him and what I did to find him.
After a few weeks, my journalling took a different turn. I began to fantasize that Cat was sitting in the doorway in the kitchen again, telling me a story: a story about humanity, who, despite their shortcomings, had kept their innocence intact, for someone somewhere had received him kindly.
At first, I imagined that he had ended up with an old lady, but after a few days, she had to leave him at an animal shelter because she was sick and could no longer care for him.
-"Please take good care of him." the old lady had said to the kind woman from the pet shelter, with tears in her eyes. Then an old ruddy man with a drooping head passed by. He didn't need much convincing, and he quickly decided to adopt Cat (my Cat). He lived in a small town, where there was almost nothing to do. In the evening, the man and Cat watched a movie on television together.
But Cat grew bored with the old man, and he began to attempt to clear the backyard fence as if determined to find something more meaningful than the toys, the catnip, and the lonely old man. Cat wasn't content to live like a glut who satisfied himself with food and belly rubs and lounging by the fireplace for hours.
I decided to continue writing about Cat's adventures. The adventures I made up for him that is.
Cat decided to go on a trip. He wanted to see some of the world. Of course, it was not easy to find an airline that allowed four-legged passengers. Finally, he had found one.
As the plane began to taxi onto the tarmac, the engines revved and roared. Cat was sitting in an armchair, in a soft travel basket. He felt short of breath and even panicked a little when the plane took off.
Every time a flight attendant passed by, he smiled kindly at Cat.
-"Don't run on the aisle,” the friendly lady said, "otherwise I'll have to tell the captain that there's a loose cat on the plane." But Cat stayed in his chair nicely. He prided himself on finding harmony in chaos. Let the chips fall where they land, he purred to himself, I'm a globetrotter now.
Cat arrived in a land of a thousand and one nights. He jumped into a cab and lay down under the slanted rear window, looking through the glass at the mystery of the desert.
Occasionally he jumped into the seat next to the driver and stood on his hind legs, looking out the window. There was a lot of traffic, and people drove aggressively. Everyone seemed to honk and curse. But every car that tried to pass them slowed down to get a good look at the feline passenger. Some of the drivers smiled broadly and waved at Cat.
It didn't take long for Cat to find a friend: Sami. A friendly young male. What fun they had together. In their beautiful apartment, they practiced martial arts: a headlock with hind legs on the muzzle, a neck grab, and then naps in the sun on a beautiful Persian carpet. Cat began meowing a wide range of intonations: a sweet cadence within the range of a mezzo-soprano: meowing a melancholic desperado.
Cat enjoyed perfect room service. His nails were trimmed, and he was washed with a special shampoo for his head and another for his body. Then his fur was blow-dried, and his hair brushed for maximum floof.
One day Cat was asked to star in a TV novella. Of course, he had to audition at the film studio first. A man in a posh three-piece suit came to pick up Cat in a nice limo and took him to the filming location.
But Cat became restless in his beautiful holiday country. He had noticed that people had started acting differently, and he could hear more and more strange noises in the distance.
One lazy afternoon, he sat in the living room, turning his head towards a hum that seemed to be coming his way. The sound soon changed to a whistle: the ominous wail of an incoming missile that seemed to slow down time. The mortar flew over the roof and landed in the park where Cat loved to catch mice. He had only one goal in mind: to run for his life.
He ran out as fast as he could. He jumped through the air. Everywhere people were running in panic.
Another kaboom. Cat reached the basement where people sought shelter, they were panting and he could hear his own heart beating.
Then his mind began to wander to Sami. Where was he? Was he okay? Was he safe, did he find a hiding place?
Boom, boom, boom: thump and roar.
Luckily, Sami was unharmed. He had taken shelter in a neighboring building near the park.
-"God save us from the hour of oblivion." Sami softly cried.
The city was no longer beautiful but had become a ghostly landscape. The birds stopped chirping and animals no longer roamed the streets. Neither foxes nor coyotes were to be seen, in the parts of the city where fire and iron fell from the sky and humans hid underground-
Cat had to leave. He said goodbye to Sami and set out on his journey. He went out of his way not to get caught. That sometimes led to mean games.
One day a car bomb exploded close to the tree where Cat had settled down to rest. This kaboom traveled in a burst of strong sound waves. Cat was startled and jumped into the air. He came down crouched on all fours. He walked slowly across the street, his tail heavy as lead.
There were only a handful of people on the street. Their faces were sullen and stoic. They moved in silence. The street was littered with shattered glass, dust, and debris. Cat's eyes closed and stubbornly refused to open again.
Suddenly he felt a gentle tug on his stomach: Sami. It was Sami, spinning and kneading and sniffing Cat's head. They were both still alive. Yes, they were both still there, and Sami had found Cat.
-"Take me with you." Sami cried. "Do not leave me alone."
The cats decided to stay together and continue their journey together. It was time to leave that country and return to the other side of the ocean.
Goodbye beautiful country. Goodbye, beautiful people.
Sami's heart seemed to break.
Together they found a transatlantic flight. Fortunately, Sami did not panic when the plane took off. Both cats quickly fell asleep.
Cat dreamed that the people and the animals left behind, would one day too, tell a story with a happy ending… or maybe it was a prayer.