Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Cats, Life, Trust and the Inability to Sleep

*Stray cat* That cat sat alone On the cold fence in the yard Her fur damp and wet -Nicolette Gonzalez
Stray cat teaches trust


First I saw the tufts of hair at the tips of the ears, and then I saw a striped fore´head and finally a pink nose.

“Hey buddy,” I cooed to the stray cat peering at me from under my neighbor’s shed. “Aren’t you pretty?”

Soon his orange sibling appeared and they both perched on the wood railings, blinking at me in the sun. I took a tentative step and in a flash of gray, black, white and orange, they scurried back under the shed.

It turns out that a stray female randomly chose my neighbor’s yard as her den. My neighbor has been putting out food and water, and has tried to catch them to take them to a shelter, but no luck.

I worry about them getting under the wheels of a moving car, or between the teeth of a mean og, but I can’t take them in, as I have two cats myself, and how would I catch them in the first place?

That’s why the book “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside” by Cynthia von Buhler caught my eye. It’s a children’s book based on a true story about a woman who befriends a stray cat. The pages are actually pictures of sets she made out of clay and other materials. Buhler is an artist who has illustrated and written several books, but this book is her first as both author and llustrator.

The story details her attempts to try to coax a stray cat to come inside her home. Each time he comes to her house, she leaves him something, such as milk, tuna and a rug. The text is repetitious; each time she repeats the previous item. It will help the memory of your little reader.

Buhler does talk about her experience in an author’s note at the end of the book. Unfortunately, the first time her real-life stray cat entered her home was also his last; the cat died in her arms that night. That might be an author’s note to share with your child when he or she is older.

*Stray Cat* One day you wandered into my view. Your fur was tufted and ridiculously askew. You were a confused vagabond without a home. It was my intention that you would continue to roam. You looked at me like we had known each other before. As though to say, 'Recognize me, feed me…open the door.' Your delving green eyes pried open my heart with a plea. Your clawless paws managed to magnetically attach to me. Your persuasive ways and purring motor have earned you a ticket. This is your home and you’re an important part of our family unit. You now fill a previously nonexistent void with constant affection. Stray cat of mine, you no longer have to worry about rejection. -Theresa Moore * *Stray Cat* Comfort appears to await her from an outstretched hand But she skirts the perimeter of all humanity with leery glances, pacing, never still. For there is a certain safety in the freedom to run. Her look is weary. She has known the pain of trusting too soon. There may come a time when she will never trust again. Though there is the memory of gentle hands and understanding eyes.. Survival moves her limbs to seek shelter, to run away from sudden wrath, to not feel the hurt when the back door closes never to open again. She continues to seek the hollow where she might find peace from constant fear. She no longer believes that there is more to an outstretched hand than passing compassion from a morsel dropped. For no one has the time or desire to love and nurture her back to health or to accept her in spite of all the scars. She sits briefly, eyes closing with exhaustion. She licks her tired paws. She is hoping this one face will be there again tomorrow. That gentle voice calling again and again inviting. Dare she hope the nightmare will end and she will find kindness, acceptance, understanding of her unavoidable fear to trust? But for now she turns and moves on. -Susan Bagley

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