When Tiger came to live with us, she was just a little bitty, scrawny, scared striped kitten. Some mean kids, may they rot forever, had set her on fire, yanked out a couple of whiskers, broken a leg, chopped her tail, and tossed her up on the roof of the school to die. Did I mention I would appreciate their rotting forever?
The school janitor, may he have two mansions and more solid gold crowns in Heaven than anyone else, climbed up to the roof when he heard the pitiful mewling from above. He tucked the frightened kitten, claws and all, inside his jacket to keep her warm and safely carried her down the ladder. Yes, you know whose house he headed for. I have a glowing “S” on my forehead, which stands for saint, stupid, sucker… take your pick. At any rate, I care about any living being that has been abused and left for dead. No, let me qualify than, nearly every living being. I do not like spiders.
I made Tiger a bed with a baby blanket and a large, low shoebox, so she could climb in and out easily. I mixed some milk with warm water. Dipping my finger in the warm milk, I put a couple of drops on her tongue. Okay, that was good and she swallowed it. After a few more drops, I showed her the cottage cheese lid that I was getting it from, and set her in front of it. She courageously took a deep breath and ….. stepped on the milk. However, she also lowered her head and began to tentatively lap at the milk. When she had her fill, she curled up on her bed and went to sleep.
Somehow, Tiger knew what to do with a cat box. After a week, she started munching on kitten kibble. Her leg had been set and her tail bobbed safely. She was used to the new look, but glad when at last her splint was removed. She got around pretty good, although not as fast as she would have been with four good legs. She began putting on weight and warming up to the other residents of the household. She and I had bonded, though, and she depended on me to teach her all things cat.
In no time at all, it seemed my little kitty grew up into a cat. I taught her how to meow like a lady, instead of a tomcat in the fish market. This earned some well-deserved laughs from the family, who practiced meowing shrilly and in a demanding manner. She learned how to bask in the sun and preen herself. I refused to let her paint her nails, though, even when she looked interested in the procedure as I did mine.
One day a mouse went scuttling across the living room floor. Like any red-blooded woman, I shrieked! “A mouse! Come on, Tiger, you’re a cat, catch it!” Tiger looked at me like I was crazy. I was acting crazy, when I think about it, jumping up and down and screaming and waving at the mouse. My husband had come in from the yard to see what all the noise was about. He sympathetically said, “Well, you’ve taught that cat everything else. It looks like you are going to have to teach her how to catch a mouse. I mean, she doesn’t have a mom cat around to teach her.” My mouth dropped open and I stopped screaming. “You mean you won’t catch it?” I asked A head shaking no and what I think was a belly laugh accompanied him out the door.
By now the kids had gotten smart and were out of my view, though I was still in theirs. “Come on, Tiger,” I grumbled, “Mom’s gonna show you how to catch a mouse.” Tiger and I managed to get the mouse in the bathroom, so I quickly shut the three of us in the bathroom and laid a towel against the door, so the mouse wouldn’t escape. The mouse started running in circles around me while Tiger watched me cringe as it got closer.
I decided action had to be taken. The sledge hammer was out in the barn, so I had to use whatever I could find. Looking around, I saw the plunger! It was the expensive kind, with the thick black rubber and extra piece that fits inside of the drain, with the yellow handle. Let me tell you, it was worth every dollar we spent for it that day. I stepped into the lovely bath with the claw legs. After assuring Tiger it was not time for a bath, I gave her one more chance to catch the mouse, which was now running in circles around Tiger. Maybe she was dizzy, but Tiger was not about to chase that mouse.
Reaching over the edge of the tub, I raised the plunger high in the air and slamming it down quickly, killed the mouse. Tiger was good enough to nudge it with her paw a couple of times to see if it wiggled. It didn’t. Proudly, she bent over, picked it up in her mouth, and once the bathroom door was open, strutted outside showing off the mouse her Mom caught.
original, factual work of the author