For the first time in my life, I was living alone. I was 44 years old. Living alone was lonely and scary but, once I got used to the solitude, I enjoyed it. Even so, there were times I missed having another beating heart around. I determined that once I owned my own house, I would get a low maintenance presence to talk to.
Finally, I bought a house. Once I settled in, I decided the time had come to get a cat. When I checked the “Free” section of the classifieds in the Capital Journal, I found an ad which read, “Free cat to good home. Two year old black and white female, neutered, declawed.” I called. The family who owned her had two toddlers and they were moving. Two good reasons to get rid of what a harried mother saw as just another mouth to feed, yet another mess to clean up. I took my own kids, who were visiting for the weekend, along to check out the cat. We all approved, so we brought her home and named her Maggie.
In keeping with typical cat coping behavior, Maggie overwhelmed by the new surroundings, disappeared as soon as she was set free in the house. That evening before I went to bed, I decided to find her to make sure she was okay. It was then I discovered I was losing my mind. I looked everywhere a cat could possibly hide. I moved furniture, peered up the chimney, and rattled the windows and screens to make sure she hadn’t slipped through one. I opened closed doors, closets and drawers. I called, “Kitty, kitty, kitty,” the whole time. I found no cat. I looked, then looked every place again, carefully poking and tipping, sliding and feeling. I listened for purring and the very soft thud of cat feet. I heard neither. She wasn’t there. She wasn’t anywhere.
Had I really gotten a cat? I thought I had. My kids had gone, so I couldn’t check with them. She’d vanished. Where had she found to hide without a trace? I checked the entire house again. No cat. Impossible. I was really, really beginning to wonder if I had rounded the bend and lost it this time. There was no trace of a cat except for the food, water and litter pan I put out. I must have imagined her. Living alone was getting to me. There’s a word for imaginings so real, but I wasn’t going there. Instead of worrying any longer, I went to bed to sleep on my dilemma.
About 2AM I awakened to a scratching and rustling very close to me. My bed was directly under a large open window. I froze, barely daring to breathe. I listened hard. The noise came from inside the room. I lay very still. Rustle, rustle, rustle. Then the sound of fabric tearing and a thud. A small thud like a small cat would make when landing.
I turned on my bedside lamp. Out from beneath the bed, where I had looked at least three or four times, strolled Maggie. I jumped up and got down on the floor to peer under the bed, fully expecting to see a secret cat trap door slamming shut. Instead, I saw a corner of the dust cover on the box springs hanging down. That must have been the tearing fabric I heard. Maggie had discovered a small opening and crawled in to hide until she felt safe enough to come out.
I picked her up and stroked her. I felt like I held my restored sanity.
To be continued…