Kitty on the—Not the Keys!

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?

Oliver Wilson in hiding

That’s right.

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 Tale

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 . . .

14 thoughts on “Kitty on the—Not the Keys!

  1. We have three rescue cats, two in Vancouver and one here in England. They all own me! Theo, our British cat, showed up one day and meowed pitifully outside the cottage for several days until Robert’s heart softened and we let him in. He immediately moved in and has been ours ever since. England being England, we soon found out the story. He was an Oxford pub cat and when his owners sold the pub they just left him behind!?! He somehow made his way to us over one year and ten miles stopping here or there with people but never settling until he found the warm, open fire, feather duvets calmness that is West Cottage. We have no idea how old he is…vet guesses possibly 10 or so years old…but we don’t care.
    Last night I fell asleep with him on my feet, this morning he’s practically on my pillow.

    1. What an amazing story, Veronica. I love the part about the heart softening; that’s what happened here, too. I immediately became attached to that kitten, and my husband came around. Say hello to your sweet cat for me!

  2. Help! I’m a dog person being held hostage by a stray cat I adopted 3 years ago. She’s now in complete control of my house, my writing time, and my life.,, and I love it.

    1. So funny, so true! I’ve always been a cat person, although I had dogs, too, growing up. And my sons had dogs. Come to think of it, there’s a blog post, too: our doggie history. Thanks for the comment, Kim.

  3. We took in a kitten we found meowing incessantly one night, disturbing the whole neighborhood. He was under a window, so we thought he’d been accidentally locked out for the night. We thought we’d keep him at our place until morning. In the morning it was clear he had no owner: he was starving, filthy, and his fur was matted with foxtails from the nearby foothills. Plus the owner of the window didn’t know him. So we kept him. He was the worst cat I have ever had: he was never friendly, he peed everywhere even after he’d been fixed, and he was just really stupid. We constantly had to rescue him from the roof of our apartment building. We tried leaving him to his own devices, but it would take him days to figure it out. One day I got a call at work from animal control saying they found his remains: he’d been attacked by coyotes. I can’t say I was sad, but I did feel bad that he died that way.

    A couple of years later my daughter found a cat on the roof. She and our housemate “rescued” it and took it in. She asked if we could keep it. “It’s a sign, mom!” The only problem was that it wasn’t a stray! “Put that cat out and let it go home!” So my son and I surprised them by rescuing a cat from a nearby shelter: a tortie he named Sprite. She’s just the sweetest. Bossy, yes, but very lovable and perfectly content with being an indoor housecat, so no coyotes or roof escapades. Considering she was middle-aged and unneutered when we adopted her, we figure she’s had several litters of kittens; so we are happy to let her retire as a fat, lazy queen.

    1. Sounds like you’ve had your ups and downs with rescued kitties, too! We do love Oliver, and I can explain away his strange behavior because of what happened to him when he was tiny. I don’t understand how people can just throw them away. Thanks for sharing your kitty stories here.

  4. We have a rescued cat, too but her story is totally the opposite. She is the most delightful little princess this side of Fairy Tale Land. Seriously.

    Apparently, she and the rest of her litter had been found, motherless, their eyes still shut. They had been starving, it was explained to us, so she would never reach full cat size. And she really hasn’t. She has been all of 8 pounds soaking wet for the past 8 years.

    But luck was on her side when they were found. A woman who was retired and specifically fostered nursing kittens took the litter in. God bless this lady whoever she was because she gave this cat the most wonderful trusting personality I have ever seen in a cat. She must have spent hours feeding these little darlings all hours of the day and night. Even now as an adult I can hold my cat upside down in my arms and scritch the back of her neck and she just flops, totally trusting – upside down! Nothing makes her happier than to snuggle in the blankets with one of us, either my daughter or myself. And I think to myself if I ever had the time and opportunity to do it right, I would love to be a woman who fosters newborn kittens like that, and makes them into darling princes and princesses like our Foxy so they can go on to lovely homes and lovely lives.

    I’ve never loved a cat as much as I love this one. Good things really do come in small packages. Thanks for your story about Oliver. He is a beauty.

    1. Stacy, what a lovely story! Some days, I wish Oliver were a cuddly cat. And he is, sometimes, just on his terms only! But then, cats always rule, one way or another. Thanks so much for sharing.

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