Posted on: July 10, 2010

Ever have a child who came back home after moving out? My youngest son did. It was just for three weeks, which turned into four months. With him came his cat, JC. I figured that stood for Jason’s Cat, but I wasn’t quite sure. She was beautiful, what’s called a soft calico: gray, not black, beige, not orange, and white. A short-haired delight, and she instantly took to my older cat, Muffin. When my son moved to his new apartment, the cat stayed behind. As I couldn’t bring myself to call her “JC”, I would simply say “come here, baby…” … and Baby she became.

When Pete and I met, Baby adored him, the new alpha male in her life, and she quickly became his cat. She moved with me to his house, then with us up into the woods. I’ve found with cats, as long as their human is with them, they do fine with moves. Baby and Muffin roamed freely around the new house and the immediate area outside. Neither of them strayed very far, I do think they understood it was a dangerous area for a domestic animal. Baby was very smart, and had figured out how to open the screen doors and let herself out, too bad she didn’t close them behind her! I even got her to sit up and beg, but most the time she only treated me to one raised paw.

The year I started waiting tables at the café in town, brought disaster. Baby went missing. I arrived home from work, snowshoeing in late, when Pete told me he couldn’t find Baby, she hadn’t come in all day. I was heart broken, and very afraid for her. Yes, I blamed him, she went missing on HIS watch! He was so consumed with his stained glass, that many things were neglected, many things that were HIS responssibility to take care of. We searched in a grid for her, or for signs.. of blood, fur, something to tell us what happened. She wasn’t a small cat, but I knew a large owl could have grabbed her, and that’s what my thought was. In my mind, though, I could ‘hear’ her …pleading with me to come and get her. I would stand at our door, looking out, tears streaming down my face. I had somehow let her come to harm. I had failed her. For weeks she haunted my dreams, begging me to come and get her and I would look for her everywhere I went. Eventually, the pleading stopped. I knew she was gone.

Five years later, I was leaving to meet Pete at the ‘new’ trailer in town, to make ice while he cut the lawn. As I passed by Three Shoes, I ran into a couple walking with their young daughter, my neighbors from on the other side of the road. We were more than a mile in on one side of the road, they were a half mile in on the other side…my closest neighbors! I stopped to chat a bit and we discussed the latest pack of dogs that we both had been seeing, and that led to feral cats. That’s when they mentioned finding one, a stray, but it wasn’t feral. The more Janet described the cat, the more I knew… it was Baby!! I asked her to take me to their home, …. I had to know.

What I was able to piece together, was that Baby had followed me out that morning, five years earlier, as I snow shoed to the car. I had no idea she was behind me, and after I got in the Jeep and left, she was lost since she couldn’t smell her own trail in the snow. She wandered across the road, following the scent of the food my neighbors left in their deer feed pile. Baby lived on donuts for a month, before these kind people coaxed her into the house. When she was safe and warm and loved, is when my dreams stopped. They had taken her to a vet, who confirmed she had been spayed and well cared for. Their young daughter, Amelia, renamed her, and Baby had a new family. Baby no longer recognized me, and my neighbor said she refused to go outside, ever. She would, however, open the upstairs window screen and sit on the roof, watching the stars. Janet was very concerned that I would want to take Baby home, but I knew that would break Amelia’s heart, and I could deal with the pain of loss better than a nine year old.

I was overjoyed that Baby was still alive, but deeply saddened that I really had failed her by not searching better, by not checking with the only neighbors I had. That guilt hangs with me to this day, even though I know Baby is truly gone now… I hope she has forgiven me.

4 thoughts on “Baby

  1. That was a sweet little story, and I believe it had a happy ending. I know it broke your heart, but for a caring little girl to have a special friend find her in the woods of the north can not be a bad thing. This story would be great, also, if written from the little girl’s point of view, and to meet the former owner after all this time is a miracle. Who knows what this precious little critter supplied to someone in need of a friend?

  2. thank you Dorothy. She was a delightful and fun cat, very affectionate. The whole thing still makes me sad, even though I know she is now dead of old age, instead of mishap.

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