The Willow Chapter

Chapter 23, In Which I Greet the New Century with . . . a new cat!

January 1, 2000

That's right. Another cat. Number 5. Another homeless cat. I think "SUCKER" is now permanently tatooed on my forehead.

In the words of my niece, Amy, "Oh no, now you're a CAT LADY!"Willow

I told you in the last chapter about Homer's daughter, the new PMH mascot. Many love her, many want her for their own, but she has remained feral. And people began to worry as the winter worsened that this little cat needed more than a box on a loading dock as her home.

Homer has also been lonely, making more and more trips up to the hospital to play and visit. I was beginning to be the butt of many jokes about being a bad mom. I wanted Homer to have company and I felt sorry for the little kitten. Someone had been able to determine that the kitten is female, and I agreed to take her in for neutering if someone could catch her.

One evening in mid-December, I got a call about 11 p.m. saying that the kitten had been captured and would I come get her? Of course. So up to the hospital I go and bring back a very terrified feral kitten. She wouldn't even come out of the carrier until Homer got tired of waiting and went over and whacked her twice on top of the head.

In "The Shed," my Kingwood home, I have a mud room with a dropped ceiling. Some of the ceiling tile is missing and the kitten immediately found her way up into the ceiling and took up residence. Days would pass and I wouldn't see her or hear her. Finally, she started coming down some and I was occasionally able to hold and pet her. Judging by the state of the bed, the sofa pillows, and other household items, I would say she did come down and play with Homer when I wasn't at home. And Homer quit going up to the hospital. We worked on finding a city name for her, our peculiarity in naming cats (Austin, Eugene, Ripley, Buckley, Beckley, Homer). After a couple of false starts, we decided on Willow (as in Alaska, like Homer). She is a beautiful, graceful, long-haired darling and the name is perfect for her.

After two weeks of this hiding nonsense, Willow was out of the ceiling one night and I found some old ceiling tile and sealed all the access points. She had to start making the transition from feral to tame. Slowly but surely.

Two days ago, I decided to spend the night at The Shed as it had been nearly a week since I had and I thought I could work more on socializing Willow. I played some with Willow but although she didn't run too far when I tried to pick her up, she would crouch and hiss. She was fine once I picked her up.

Homer and I went to bed, Willow went under the bed. About 1 am I woke to a thundering herd, saw Homer was gone, so knew the stinkers were downstairs playing. Suddenly the gallops headed up the stairs and I expected to see Willow in full flight from Homer. Instead, WILLOW is chasing Homer. Homer heads under the bed, Willow soars onto the bed, then sees me and freaks. Homer finally gets tired of waiting for her to come back, so he came back to bed.

Later I wake up with my toes being chomped on and am initially outraged that Homer would display such boorish behavior. But Homer is next to me on his pillows. Miss Willow is lying across my ankles, biting my toes everytime I make the slightest movement. I laid still and she went to sleep on my ankles. I am thrilled at this breakthrough.

The next morning, I go sit in the recliner to watch the weather report and Homer as usual moves into my lap. A few minutes later, Willow comes sashaying in, jumps up into my lap, too, and drapes herself half over Homer. We sat there together for quite awhile as they both got lots of rubs and kisses. A new wonderful cat family for the new century!

Cats are such remarkable creatures.

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