For years, cats have found their way to Chez Medlock.
When we lived in our cottage on Poplar Street, there was a continuous stream of cats that adopted our humble abode. Because I am extremely allergic to them, I never encouraged them to stay, but I soon realized that they couldn’t care less what I thought. So they came. They stayed long enough to be given names, then they left. My beloved often joked that we were part of some cat hobo network, and we must have received good ratings from the previous cats who lived with us. Great. Its one thing to be a good hostess to friends and family, but I really didn’t need the pressure of pleasing feral cats.
A few years ago, one of the cats had kittens in our garage. We tried to make friends with the kittens, so that maybe we could socialize them enough to provide them “family planning” services. We became particularly friendly with one fluffy gray kitten that we named Sterling. Then, the momma cat moved the kittens. A few months later, we noticed that we were being watched by a fluffy gray cat. It never really came too close, but he was always there on the edge of the yard– watching. Could it be Sterling, we hoped?
At the time, we were the parents of two useless basset hounds. Don’t get me wrong, they were our bassets and we loved them completely. But they basically existed so that we could financially support the dog food industry. Interestingly, the female basset, Daisy, also noticed the fluffy gray cat. Always ready to make friends, one afternoon she proceeded over, started wagging her tail, and poured on the charm. Poor thing. She didn’t know that cats don’t do charm. For weeks, Daisy tried to make friends. Then, she just decided to simply mother the poor thing. Once Daisy made that decision, the fluffy gray cat didn’t have a chance. It was now a part of our family.
My beloved adores cats. He understands their nature so much more than I do. For months, he coaxed, encouraged, and then finally begged Sterling to let him touch him. Sometimes he would spend hours talking softly to Sterling, as he crept closer and closer. Sterling, being a cat, ignored my beloved’s advances until he got tired of the game and scampered off. When we worked in the yard, Sterling was always there with us — ignoring us and watching us at the same time.
Sterling never really got close to us, but he adored the bassets. He ate with them, slept with them, and every afternoon when he came home from hunting in the meadow behind the house, the reunion was as intimate as any human family. They hugged, they rubbed, and then Daisy would plop her big paw on him and proceed to give him a bath — from head to tail. The love the three fur babies had for each other would often bring a tear to my eye. Two worthless bassets and a feral cat. Who would have thought they could make such a loving family?
One of their most charming antics was their afternoon naps. We kept a small dog house in their pen. Bassets are big dogs, with the exception of their short legs. So the process of stuffing themselves into this little dog house was entertaining. We bought a larger dog house, but they had nothing to do with it. They just kept stuffing themselves into their napping house, with a variety of limbs or body parts hanging out the flap. They were completely content. When Sterling came along, there wasn’t any room for him, so he would drape himself over the top. With paws and tail dangling, he’d nap above our snoring bassets.
Our happy little fur baby family existed peacefully for a few years. On cold nights, when my beloved would go out and check on them, they would all be snuggled up in their room in the back of the garage, with their warming lamp and each other to stay warm. The dogs would arouse to greet him when he walked in. Always at the bottom of the pile would lay Sterling, annoyed that someone had interrupted his evening’s repose.
Then one spring, we noticed that Sterling wasn’t around. When he would go missing for a day or two, we wouldn’t worry too much. After all, in the springtime all tomcats go searching for love in all the wrong places. But then a few more days went by, and we could tell that Daisy was worried too. She’d stand in the yard and watch the meadow. A few days later, she had become listless and only wanted to lay beside the napping house. When my beloved went to check on her, that’s when he found Sterling. He’d crawled into the napping house and peacefully died, where his faithful friends would find him. My beloved buried him beside the other fur babies who had passed.
Why am I telling you this? Well, we have two new kittens who have adopted us. They’ve been around a few months now. They’ve frolicked their way into our hearts, just like Sterling did. And while the worthless bassets have both passed on, too, our precious Alex adores the kittens and they adore him. I wonder if we still have that napping house…