Ali moved in a couple of months ago shortly after I passed the test and demonstrated my ability to learn quickly, act on subtle hints, provide a clean litter box and most importantly, open cans. The speed at which I open cans of cat food could be improved upon but in terms of reliability I was a shoo-in. In rinsing out the water bowl and replenishing with fresh cold water, I’m simply summa cum laude.
After a dark rainy night of unrelenting downpours, the lightning was now far off in the distance and the accompanying thunder was losing its bite as well. The rain was down to a steady drizzle and the air was just too humid for the wind to have its way, so this invisible wet blanket effectively ended the cricket convention that was in full swing earlier just outside my door. The sound of rain water rushing through gutters and the soft thud of large drops in the dirt lulled me into a hypnotic trance as I sat before my keyboard, lost in thought.
A single loud, clear, sharp “meow” in the key of C delivered in a female feline soprano was all my adrenal glands required to see the need for super-human strength. I jumped out of my skin for no good reason and surprised myself. Perhaps I had been pondering impure thoughts when the lights came on and reality came marching through the door.
I opened the sliding door to check on the noise and with no invitation an impatient calico kitten invaded my space and immediately began reprimanding me for not opening the door sooner, but, it seemed, was not beyond forgiving me should I have a tuna fish in my back pocket. She could not have weighed more than a cupcake with all the trimmings, and was little more than fur and bones stretched over an attitude. I opened a can of sardines and she said “I do.”
In the weeks after the wedding we became great friends and shared everything, including my keyboard, but she only seemed to need this at the same time I was using it. The name Ali seemed appropriate since my back door is isolated and surrounded by trees and buildings like an alley.
This tiny thing quickly proved herself to be the most affectionate animal on God’s green earth and has a way of giving me goose bumps when she leaps off some high furniture onto my shoulder and then after retracting her landing gears, begins to purr loudly in my ear.
Everything in our lives seemed perfect until we discovered she was being stalked by the sinister tail. Totally mute, sometimes the long black tail with the white tip managed to blend in and we don’t even notice it and other times it beckoned like a finger saying “come here” or taunted and teased her until Ali lost her composure. Then she felt compelled to track it down and attack it with a feral swiftness, but then compassionately allowed the serpent to escape, thinking it had learned its lesson.
A dog’s tail discloses what is going in its mind and nose at the opposite end, but a cat’s tail seems to have its own computer, like a secretive, highly intelligent spirit with its own private agenda. Ali and I have managed to expand beyond the denial stage and have no choice but to deal with this passive-aggressive tail that remains so defiant in our relationship, but we also feel that we have become somehow richer by accepting this robust challenge.