Living and Loving

Reader Contribution by Linda Williams
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At least 50 years of our more-than-half-century of marriage have included pets. When our kids were young, we had a terrier, poodle, and Pomeranian.

When our off spring left the house, we still yearned for the pitter patter of little feet. We knew dogs were work. They would take up our time, they would confine us to the house and even day trips would become difficult.

And so it was that on a cold day in March, a big yellow cat stormed out of the house across the street and made his way into our hearts. He simply did not like his owners. We think he felt ignored and unloved. “Charlie” became our pet and remained with us for 17 years. He was so streetwise we could let him wander about whenever and wherever he pleased.

It was not uncommon for him to cross two highways, tap his paw lightly on the door of a friendly looking house, have a saucer of milk and nap before returning to us. Needless to say there were many tears when that monster cancer that destroys so many of our loved ones got to Charlie. On a dreary February day, we had to bid him farewell.

By summer we were pet starved. We longed for the comfortable look of a cat curled up in the sunshine or waiting impatiently for us when we returned from a trip.

An ad on a bulletin board at the vet’s office led us to “Gracie”. “Free kittens,” the note had read. I told my husband I wanted only to look and we made arrangements to meet the tiny felines at a nearby church. Three little kittens with tails in the air greeted us and we quickly picked our little gray fuzz ball who weighed a pound and a half. Her size did not match her personality. A visit to the vet’s office to have her claws trimmed caused such a tremendous roar, other patients thought surely there must be a wild cat on the loose.

Photo by Fotolia/tsheburashka

Then, a week or so later, we were having breakfast on a warm summer morning. The hollyhocks were peeking over the hillside above our patio and the petunias were happily blooming by our breakfast nook.  Suddenly a blood curdling wail broke down the tranquility of this peaceful scene. What kind of animal could make such a mournful sound?

Within a day, the source of the noise revealed itself in the form of a playful white paw poking under the garden fence. Quickly, we opened the gate and grabbed a scared little white and wide eyed kitten, trembling and starving. Thankfully water had been available in the water gardens and bird bath.

And thus we became a two cat couple. Since neither of us is good at determining cat gender, we named it “Francis” and decided we could simply change the spelling if we were wrong.

Since we live near the highway, we are certain our second cat was thrown out of a car into a dark and stormy night. But, their loss was our gain.

Cats can bring such joy into aging lives. They keep us constantly laughing with their antics. Gracie thinks my slipper socks are her kittens. Francis brings us many offerings of dead (and sometimes live) chipmunks, mice, and gophers.

They aren’t a lot of work needing only to be fed, watered, brushed on occasion, and loved. If we leave for a day they fend for themselves. Longer trips require someone simply stopping by to refill the food dish.

To be on the safe side, they have a curfew that is observed with the shutting of the cat door. I wish I would have thought of this when I had teenagers.

Gracie and Francis may well be our last pets. That is, of course, if no other unwanted cats come strolling to our door needing love.

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