Fred Penner fans, hang on to your hats.
When I spoke to my momma on Thursday last week, she was feeling blue because her cat was missing and presumed dead. The whole thing made me sad too. Dusty, my folks’ cat, is Leroy’s momma and a sweet old thing. I’m not sure exactly how old she is, but best estimates fall around twelve years.
Picture Miss Dusty–she has always been a single mom, after all–a dilute calico with siamese somewhere in her heritage according to her blue eyes. Like some siamese cats, she has slightly crossed eyes. We think she must have learned to mouse by radar, because she has spent pretty much her whole life watching the end of her own nose. Dusty was very fine-boned for a while, but being spayed and reaching middle age led her to a rotund state. Her coat is very plush, and she almost looks like she’s wearing a rabbit fur coat all winter long. She also has an unusually short tail and small ears, which contradict the old wives’ tale that cats with big ears and long tails make the best mousers.
For some reason, Dusty was missing a week when I spoke to my mom on Thursday. Over all the years they’ve had her, Dusty has rarely missed a meal, and, in fact, tends to employ her siamese yowl if the kibble is not provided right on time. She hangs out with my mom in the summers while she’s gardening, warming her kitty self in the sun. If the cows get too close along the fence line, and Dusty thinks they may present a bovine threat to her person, she puffs herself up, faces her perceived, cud-chewing enemy, and growls like a doberman. She’s the toughest little cat I know.
As farm cats go, Dusty’s doing all right. The Electrician and I are of the “pets are family” viewpoint, obviously. My parents, though, are from the old-school and see animals as life forms that belong outside. As much as they like Dusty, she lives outside and sleeps in her cathouse. Not all farm cats get regular meals or insulated houses, which Dusty has. We joke that Leroy won the cat life lottery, living in utter luxury as he does; under that same system, I suppose Dusty is solidly middle class. She’s got all the basics tied up and gets a treat every now and again.
While my mom told me with a deep sigh that it looked like Dusty wasn’t coming home again last week, I was sad. Part of me, though, was sure she was fine and would show up again soon. Never mind that we had windchills down past minus 30 last week, and a foot and a half of snow. Forget about the coyotes and the owls and all the other predators that would love some tender (very) well-fed cat as a break from all the stringy rabbits and tough squirrels. Something told me Dusty was just hiding out somewhere, and would be home soon. I’m fairly psychic and tend to know when to trust my instincts.
To my delight but not my surprise, when I got home from work the following evening there was a delighted message from my momma that Dusty was home, hungry, and healthy in every way. I am not sure where she was or what she was doing, but she returned from her weeklong vacation good as new. Hooray!
Join me, will you?
“The cat came back, the very next day.
The cat came back: we thought she was a goner,
But the cat came back. She just couldn’t stay away.”
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