TW (aka The Writer) had never wanted a cat. He’d always thought that a dog was in his future. But a cat, never.
Then one Saturday afternoon eight years before, a kitten crawled up into his engine. With meows reaching across the shopping center parking lot, the kitten notified the world she wanted out. He saw the crowd gathered around his car. He popped the hood open. A tall, scrawny teen reached in and pulled out a small gray cat and handed the creature over to TW.
A white-haired woman said, “I guess it’s yours.”
The furry creature, smaller than the palm of his hand, meowed. And it didn’t just meowed. It Meowed.
“Just take it home and feed it and put out a poop box and it’ll be fine.”
“I don’t know.”
“Follow me,” the woman insisted.
She reached into her car and handed him a shoe box for the kitten.
Like a mouse after a piped piper, he followed her into the nearby pet store. Back in the parking lot, she said, “My name is Claire. Here’s my card. You can call me if you have any questions.” Then she drove away.
Despite his resistance, TW took a liking to the kitten over the next week. And the kitten took a liking to its new home.
She bonded with his couch. She bonded with his bed. She bonded with his chair. She bonded with her food and water bowls. She bonded with the poop box. And she bonded with his lap.
After several tries, he found a vet he liked. Dr. Hatch was very patient with TW. “You don’t have to be afraid of the cat.”
“Yeah, but…she’s so small.”
Dr. Hatch laughed. “Oh, she’ll grow.”
“But, Dr. Hatch…”
“Helen. You can call me Helen.” Then Helen went on to ease TW’s mind about the cat. “Have you given her a name?”
“No,” TW said, frowning. “I didn’t think it was a good idea since I wouldn’t be keeping her.”
“Oh, you’ll be keeping her.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“She’s already claimed you.”
“Guess I’ll call her Cat.”
“Very unusual name.” Helen laughed.
And that was how he’d gotten to know Helen, and they’d begun dating.
Though things hadn’t worked out with Helen, they’d definitely worked out with Cat. Cat became as close to TW as anyone he’d ever known. With others, and this included Sylvia, he’d held something back. Not with Cat.
No matter how bad a day TW had, Cat always cheered him up. No matter what he was trying to decide, Cat always had a say in the decision. If he brought home a piece of furniture and Cat didn’t like it, it went back.
Each morning he went on the back porch. Cat ran out into the yard. She chased the ball he threw for her. She jumped six feet in the air and caught it. She went after lizards and squirrels and birds but never caught them. She just liked chasing things.
On the weekends, TW took leisurely walks through the neighborhood in the late afternoon. Cat walked by his side.
There were times when TW thought he could read Cat’s mind. And there were times when he came to believe she could read his.
No matter how sick or sad or frustrated he became, she was always a comfort. Most nights Cat cozied up to him and lay on his lap while he read or watched TV.
Now Cat stood at his front door, bleeding. She looked up into his eyes. Her green eyes said, “I’m hurting. I’m in pain. Please do something.”
He scooped her up into his arms, laid her on the table and managed to stop the bleeding with bandages. Then he picked her up and put her on the passenger seat of his car and rushed her to the vet hospital. As he drove, she closed her eyes and fell asleep