Say Hello to Oliver
This is where we found him hiding the other day when we were trying to round him up for the last dose of his antibiotic, which had been a hellacious ten-day experience for Oliver and for us.
Can you guess where he is?
He’s inside the grand piano. We had searched for him all morning. Looked everywhere, even in rooms whose doors we knew we had closed. Under couches and beds. In closets. And then, after an hour of searching, when we were just about to decide Oliver had vaporized, my husband called me to the living room.
“What?” I yelled.
“You have to see this.” And there the cat was, looking smug. But not for long. All it took was a bass note or two, and he was off again, and we were chasing him.
Oliver’s a very bright cat. He’s also neurotic, a “one-person” kitty if ever there was one. But he has his reasons.
Eleven years ago this summer, we found an eight-week-old kitten, drenched and shivering, under the shrubbery between our house and our neighbor’s late one night after a thunderstorm. If we hadn’t had dinner guests that night, we wouldn’t have walked outside at 10:30, but we were saying goodbye to them. My friend heard the kitten’s crying and convinced me that it was indeed a kitten, not one of our older cats. My husband and I brought him in, dried him off, found a box and lined it with a towel or two, and gave him–yes–a saucer of milk.
We put signs up around the neighborhood, but nobody claimed him. I was preparing, after a week, to take him to the shelter. I didn’t want to. I was sad. And maybe I got just weepy enough because my husband finally said, “You want to keep him, don’t you?”
And so we did. We named him Oliver. We were both English teachers. The cat was a foundling. What else would we have called him?
The Rest Is History
Oliver has an unfortunate personality. I believe he was traumatized as a kitten because he’s terrified of small children. He’s also terrified of thunder. He owns me. Totally. If I’m working and he wants lap time, he’ll do his best to shove the laptop aside. (He weighs 18 pounds, so don’t underestimate his strength.) He has beautiful blue eyes and Siamese coloring, but clearly, his daddy was a traveling man. For a while after we found him, we saw other cats around the neighborhood with similar coloring but with a white foot or two or a white splash across the face. Most likely, an entire litter was dropped off near our house that night. How does somebody do something like that?
Tonight, Oliver is at the veterinarian’s–again–the third time in six weeks. He has a chronic infection. He’ll have a procedure tomorrow, and maybe by Saturday morning, we can bring him home and begin–again–the chases and the captures and the trauma of giving him his meds. But each time, after a little while, he forgives. He’s back in my lap, pawing at the computer, wanting my exclusive attention. And he gets it.
Sometimes I wish Oliver could talk. I wish he could tell me the story of that night eleven years ago from his perspective: his fear, his hunger, his cringing at the hands of whoever threw him out in the rain. Since he can’t, I have to imagine it.
Funny, isn’t it, how animals get under your skin? Tell me your stories! Or better yet, let your pet tell it . . .