I have a cat. Well, that may be a somewhat erroneous statement but I vehemently deny even the faintest suggestion or innuendo that she has me. I will however, although with some degree of hesitation, agree to the assertion that neither of us has the other and we are equal partners in our relationship.
The black and white American Shorthair cat first introduced herself to me and my friend about nine years ago while our new house was being constructed on the outskirts of Noel, Missouri. She was a stray who, for some reason unknown to me then or even now, wanted to be with the two of us. She began to sleep on the front porch and when I walked outside she would come to me and rub against my leg. We soon began giving her food and water which I’m sure she greatly appreciated.
The Ozark mornings were getting cold and as the leaves turned brown and fell from the branches of the trees I knew the autumn days would soon die and the cold of winter would surely be born. After some time, and before the first snowfall, the small black and white cat began making brief excursions into the house. With little notice she eventually made the inside quarters her permanent home leaving behind the harsh and cold nights that were to come.
My old friend loved the cat she named Mama and the two often sat together on the sofa. Mama found my friend’s lap comfortable and a wonderful place to fall asleep. My friend rubbed Mama’s black and white coat while the sleepy feline purred and purred. There came a time when the lover of cats became very ill and while she rubbed Mama less, the astute cat seemed to sense her illness and rubbed her more. The day came when my friend was called away and left on the wings of angels. For many days following her parting Mama walked throughout the house as if she was searching for her loving sofa companion.
I recall very well the day of the dead bird. Although Mama spends most of the daylight hours and all of her nights inside, she does enjoy her brief jaunts away from the confines of the home. She never leaves the front or back yards and enjoys relaxing in a patio chair or laying on her back while on the wrap-around porch.
One afternoon, and after she had been outside for an hour or so, I saw her face looking at me through the glass of the living room’s French door. That always signaled her desire to come inside so I raised myself from the sofa and walked to the door. As I opened the door Mama eased her head through the opening but I didn’t look at her as my attention was drawn to an object laying on the porch only a foot or so from the doors.
It was a small lifeless bird. I looked at Mama and asked, “What happened to that bird?” She, stopped only partially passing through the doorway, sat and looked up at me. She knew what I was asking, but the normally talkative feline made not a sound. I asked, “Did you kill that poor little bird?” Once again she was silent, and she never even looked in the direction of the motionless bird. I knew then, and I know even to this day, that Mama caused the death of that bird.
The sleeping arrangements for Mama and I were succinctly defined. We both slept on the bed in the master bedroom but she slept on a small blanket that rested atop the comforter while I slept under that bedcover and between the sheets. I claimed ownership of one side of the bed while she rested, both during the day and at night, on the other side of the queen sized bed. We both agreed that any cat toys were to be kept on her side of the bed.
This arrangement seemed to work well for quite some time until one day when the understood verbal contract was broken. I had been away from the house for several hours and when I returned and opened the door there sat Mama. It was nice to see that she greeted me but that hadn’t happened before. She could normally be found sleeping on the bed, in her small padded house, on a blanket atop the sofa or in one of her secret cat places.
I said hello to the house cat and walked to the bedroom with some purchases in hand. As I passed the bed I observed that the blanket Mama slept on was on my side of the bed as were three of her favorite toys. I placed my purchases on the bed and moved the blanket and play things to her side of the bed thinking little about the changes. While moving the toys I heard several “meows” and turned to see Mama sitting next to the bed. She was looking up at me and I got the feeling that she didn’t want her possessions moved, but I disregarded her objections and relocated the toys and blanket to her side of the bed.
From that day forward I found that when I returned home Mama would greet me and I made it my practice to immediately go to the bedroom. Each time I found that her blanket and toys had been moved conspicuously to my side of the bed. It seemed as though we began to play a game of willpower as I always, and in her presence and as she watched, moved her possessions back to her side of the bed.
I wondered how and when the movement of the items took place so one day I purchased a small video security camera. I was determined to get the events recorded. I positioned the camera on a nightstand next to the bed and placed the recorder on the dresser. Any activities would be recorded onto a memory card which I would then view using my computer. That afternoon I left the house having no specific destination in mind but I had to give Mama the chance to move things around.
I returned home after the passage of an hour or so and there to greet me was Mama. I couldn’t wait to walk to the bedroom and see if the blanket and toys had been moved. Sure enough, the items were now on my side of the bed; I had her now. I couldn’t wait to remove the memory card from the recorder but I found that the recorder’s plug had slipped out of the wall outlet. I placed the plug back into the outlet, removed the card and placed it into the computer port.
The cat was first seen on the video about five minutes after I left the house. She could be seen walking around the room and then she jumped onto the bed. She appeared to be cautious and sat still for a moment or two while looking at the blanket and toys, then she looked at the camera. Mama then walked toward the camera and put her face against the lens.
The video captured her curiously looking around the room. She jumped down from the bed and walked toward the dresser. I watched as the video captured images of her looking at the recorder and as though she was evaluating the whole situation she seemed to follow the electrical cord from the dresser to the outlet. Mama rose up and walked to the outlet that powered the recorder and although I couldn’t see precisely what she was up to, she was doing something to the cord itself. The video then stopped and the computer screen faded to black.
That evening I boxed up the camera and recorder accepting the notion that the cat knew how they operated. Sometimes when I come home I find Mama lying on her back, and on my side of the bed, with her feet stretched to the sky. She purrs as I sometimes rub her belly, but then who doesn’t enjoy having their belly rubbed. She always has that sweet innocent look on her face but I know that look only serves to hide the truth.
It seems to me that the carton of milk kept in the refrigerator empties far too quickly, the bag of cat treats kept in the pantry doesn’t last long enough and I never recall having left the television tuned to the animal channel. I once returned home only to find the Broadway show “Cats” DVD in the player. I briefly considered buying a large dog, possibly a Bull Mastiff, to watch the cat but after much consideration I feared that Mama would enlist the canine as an ally only worsening the situation.
I’ve stopped trying to outsmart Mama but even to this day I’m convinced that she was the cause of that bird’s all too sudden demise.