November 07, 2010

The Cat Is

I have this cat. Her name is Isis. She is very unremarkable in most respects, a little black and brown tabby, except for the manner of her sheer presence. When she occupies a space, she makes herself the center of it, no matter where she is sitting. Not a moment goes by when she is not directly in one's field of vision or one's hearing, if not in actual physical contact. It is not what she does. It is just what she is - she is here.

So naturally, when she is not here for longer than a few moments at a time the absence becomes very glaring. It may sound silly to say that if I do not see her for five minutes, I go looking, but it is simply such a rare occurrence that it naturally causes concern. It's like suddenly noticing that you've stopped breathing or that your foot has fallen asleep. You immediately feel the need to do something about it. So when she is not here, and doesn't respond when called, nor is she in the bathroom (where her litter box is), nor the dining room (where if food dish is), nor the living room where Harry and his buddies are watching basketball, something is certainly wrong. She is not a cat who hides. If she is in a room, any occupant of that room will immediately know it.

The house is not that big, so it leave only once place she could be. That place, unfortunately, is very big. Since moving here, she has had the habit of sitting in front of the screen doors, smelling, listening, and watching. Frequently, I hear her complain and turn to see her at the door, tail all puffed up, hissing and cussing. There is a big black cat that comes around, to silently look in from the darkness. She does not like him one bit. Despite that, she has recently decided she to be a brave creature.

Tonight was the third time she has escaped the house. She has never gone farther than the driveway between the two houses and has always deigned to be slowly herded back inside. Tonight I had to play the slow, wandering game round and round until I could reach down and grab her front leg where she sat under the bumper of Tek's giant truck. She protested loudly as I swung her up and tucked her under my arm like a football, one hand gripping the nap of her neck. She hates that. It pressed on her kitty off-switch and makes her legs all rubbery, but she didn't struggle as I carried her back inside, where she immediately announced her return to the guys gathered around the giant flat screen in the living room.

I try not to worry about her, not to let fear get the best of me. Truth is, if she gets out, she gets out, and there's really very little I can do about it, especially if it should happen when I'm not home. She's small for a cat, under eight pounds. She has no front claws, so it's unlikely she'll get herself stuck up a tree. She hates other animals, so she'll probably try to stay clear of the other stray cats, but that doesn't mean they'll stay clear of her. I worry most that they'll drive her off and she'll be unable to find her way back, or she'll get in a fight or struck by a car.

For now, she's safely home, lying on my desk to the left of my computer monitor, complaining when I reach out to pinch her ears. Harry knows to keep and eye out for her and shoo her away from the door. My worry makes me sad more than fearful. She's such a little bundle of personhood, a very powerful and reassuring presence. I miss her when she's gone.

If she gets out, she gets out, and there's no much I can do.

1 comment:

John said...

I know my own cat won't be with me forever. I try not to think about it too much. I try not to borrow grief from the future.

P.S. Shadow says hi.