The following story is a finalist in the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers will receive $500 in cash, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. Voting runs through September 8. To read more stories and cast your vote, click here!
Eensy (being a tigrous chubster, as I call him, owing to his markings and rotundity), Beensy (my noble and valiant warrior puss because he’s so sleek, silent, and exudes gravitas), and my so-called supernova Poozer, Teensy (named because of his extraordinary uniqueness which makes me exceedingly happy that the world doesn’t know about him, since if it did, I’d have to live in a walled-up fortress) all love summer, despite their fur coats which (one would think!) keep them a tad too warm. They love it because it is synonymous with freedom to them. A friend once said they were my “love slaves” since I keep them cooped up in the apartment during other parts of the year, it being too cold to venture out. I only let them out in the evenings, when I can be here with them to supervise, as their personal Mary Poppins.
I cohabited with my first kitty, Oopie, for 17 amazing years, and losing her was eviscerating for me. I determined that the next time I cohabited with a kitty, I would do everything humanly possible to ensure their longevity and health. Armed with several books’ worth of knowledge, I adopted my precious trio 13 years ago, and have been firmly adhering to all the principles I learned all that time ago, including to never let them out.
I fill my apartment with wonders for them: toys, cat-friendly videos on the telly, apps they can paint on with my iPad, cat trees, boxes, etc. However, I know that they still long for at least some exposure to the wild. So, as the days start getting longer and the weather warmer, and the evenings when I return from work are not as dark and cold, I start opening my front door to the wonderland that is my courtyard for them.
Being clever and crafty, they sense that this time is approaching, and gaze at me accusingly, as if to say, “Why have you not opened that door yet?!” And, when I finally do, leaving it propped open so they can return anytime they choose, Beensy is the first to shoot out like a rocket, his nose nudging the door along, since I don’t open it nearly fast enough for him. Eensy follows a tad more cautiously, being more like a timid old lady, and stays for a while looking down on the courtyard promised land from the landing in front of my second floor door, before venturing down carefully, one paw at a time down the stairs. Teensy, although the most exuberant, sauciest, and jauntiest within the confines of the apartment, frequently prefers to remain behind, safe and cozy in the security of home.
Once we are all down there (I as chaperone to ensure no escapes if a resident should open one of the locked gates), Beensy proceeds to sniff out all the flora and fauna with his pink polka-dotted nose, while Eensy often prefers to laze about, sprawled in the middle of the courtyard. He prefers to observe Beensy’s perambulations rather than join in.
Once, when we first moved in many years ago, Beensy actually vaulted over my neighbor Joseph’s six-foot-plus wooden porch fence. I was gobsmacked, at a loss as to how to recover him, since it was well past midnight. Do I call the fire department?! Fortunately, by a combination of stepping onto the short brick wall surrounding the fence, and Beensy fortuitously being on a table on the porch, I was able to reach out, grab him, and bring him back to us. There’s also a small bamboo “forest” around Joseph’s porch, which Teensy loves to hide in and explore on the rare occasions when he joins us in the courtyard. At those times, I have to swat at the bamboo to smoke him out, otherwise he’d disappear in there forever.
If ever there is a noise from an extraterrestrial (aka neighbor), my darlings instantly race at high speed for the safety of the light at the top of the stairs, the coziness of home. The wild may hold its charms, but in the end, my heart fills with the knowledge that, when they feel threatened, there is a place where they know they are loved, protected, and safe. They may be my “love slaves”, but I am even more theirs. There’s a reason why our doormat reads, “The cat and the housekeeping staff live here.”
Summer, spring, winter, or fall, the light at the top of the stairs beckons with its promise of home, and all the comfort and safety, coziness and security, love and joy that that entails.
This story was submitted by Sandra Zaninovich in support of Cat Connection. To read other stories from the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest, and to cast your vote for your favorite, click here!Whizzco