Friday, March 7, 2008

My first cat...

I never planned to get a cat. But when I moved into a ground floor apartment that shared a wall with a liquor store, suddenly I was up to my elbows in mice. Well, that's an exaggeration, but the mice pretty much ruled the kitchen. Once I came in to get coffee in the morning to find a mouse on the table, waiting for breakfast.

I tried mouse traps. I disposed of some mousey corpses...ick! Then one got trapped but didn't die. I made an emergency call to a less wussy friend for help. She drove right over, double-parked in the bus stop in front of my place and ran in with a tire iron, much to the consternation of some people waiting for the bus. She dispatched the mouse and told me sternly, "You've got to learn to kill things." I wanted to delegate that responsibility.

The next afternoon I was standing in front of a cage at the animal shelter, looking at a large gray cat with a white chest and paws. She was very lovely. She stared back at me solemnly. The little card on the cage said, "Shy cat, good mouser." When the attendant took her out of the cage and put her in my arms, she clung to me and looked up at me with those huge, green eyes. Suddenly I couldn't bear to put her back in the cage.

I brought the cat home on the bus. During the trip she peed a little through the cardboard carrier onto my leg. The bus driver either didn't notice or took pity on me and didn't kick me off the bus. Once I brought her into the apartment, I carried her straight to the kitchen. I let her out of the carrier and peeled back some steel wool that my father had told me to stuff into the mouse holes. The cat leaped back stiff-legged to see the steel wool popping out of the floorboard area. Then she fixed her gaze on the place where the mice usually entered. While I was setting up her food and water bowls and litter box, she explored the place and checked out the perimeter. She was particularly interested in the wall with the liquor store next door on the other side.

I never saw another mouse in that apartment.

I came up with the brilliant name of Gray Cat for my new, um, gray cat. I was very relieved to be mouse free. But my education was just beginning. I had to learn how to live with a cat. I'm still learning.

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