When I was five, I found a kitten on the street. I called my folks at work when I got home from school (kids, even five-year-olds, could return to empty houses in those days) and told them my boyfriend gave me a kitten, I would keep it in a drawer in the garage, they never had to see it, I would feed it and take care of it, please, please, please let me keep it. When my dad got home that evening, I took him into the garage where I had indeed put the kitten in a drawer, and the pretty marmalade thing looked up at us, mewing and wide-eyed. My dad picked it up, the kitten a tiny ball of fluff in his big papa bear hand. I carry this image with me, fifty years later. Cat in hand.
I named him Puddin.
The cat, not my dad.
One Reply to “TBT Memory ~ My First True Love”
One early morning, tucked almost out of sight in the dark under the back wheel of the car, was a nondescript cardboard box, and inside we discovered two orange-marmalade kittens making the shape of crying with their mouths, but no sound. One was long-haired and one short, and we called them Flotsam and Jetsam.
We put a notice in the local shop and we found a home for Jetsam, the handsome short-haired kitten; we were left with Flotsam and soon his name was shortened to Flottie. He was a scruffy tink of a cat and when he grew up he loved nothing more than going out in the rain and resting his tummy in the mud. He came back with his white bearded underbelly all clotted with glaur. Flottie became ‘Flot the Grot’ and then just Grottie.
He was soft and silly sometimes. And you could use him as a bath-towel if you had a mind to, or as a juggling ball, or a door mat to clean your shoes on, and he’d offer up not a bit of protest, but purr like an engine ever idling. Babies used Grottie as a pillow and you knew the baby was safe, and sometimes a child tugged his hair, or pinched his ear or pulled his tail, and still the cat purred.
But underneath the soft exterior lurked a trained and ruthless killer. Grottie took to delivering small gifts to us on the back step, finding his voice then and calling us to see and to be proud. And there was the warm torn purse of a mole one day, its pink knotted innards hot and spilling onto the step, and it was not yet dead. Or a pigeon with its crop dissected and the green evidence of its last meal laid out for our inspection, and feathers like party confetti all over the yard. And Grottie sitting on his heels and ‘look at what I done’.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, he was old, and years had passed and I don’t know where they went. He slept a lot and ate little and purred still at the slightest attention. We talked to him more then, coaxing him to feed, or to walk about the living-room, or to pat at a cotton-reel dangling on a bit of string.
And one morning or night, as quietly as he had arrived, Grottie was quietly gone, sneaking off into one of his other nine lives.
I still check under the back wheel of the car in the morning, just in case.