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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: White (10/29/09)

TITLE: Taking Off The Tuxedo
By Emily Gibson


Our “tuxedo” kitty arrived on the farm with all the accoutrements of an especially loved cat: a soft bed, scratching post, litter box, collar with bell, self dispensing food and water dishes, expensive diet. Her owner was moving and could not keep her after two years of luxurious indoor living. So black and white Bobbie Sox would become a barn cat. No collar, special diet, entertainment center or scratching post were necessary. All her stuff was put up in the hay loft to make her feel “at home” where she was initially placed, and I don’t think she ever looked at it or touched it again. Freedom was at hand (or at four white paws).

She chose not to be particularly social; she kept away from the other farm cats, and kept her loft to herself. Even when called, she would not come quickly like the other cats. I would climb into the loft to fetch hay bales, and give her a daily ration of cat kibble, and I’d glance into the hay stack to find her. She would be generally on top of the stack, looking down at me in curiosity, her yellow eyes a reflective flash from her black face, her stark white bib bright in the semi-darkness of the loft. She would wait until I was gone to come down to eat her fill. I don’t recall ever touching her soft black fur that first year—she always stayed at arm’s length.

Over the years, as other cats came and went, Bobbie Sox was a constant. She ventured more often from her hay loft perch, keeping the rodent population under control. Occasionally, I’d see her sharing her food dish. She would talk to me when I came to the barn, and every once in awhile, she would come up and rub on my legs as I did chores.

Sixteen years have passed since Bobbie’s arrival. This past year she showed her age for the first time, becoming a bit thinner, and showing signs that she wasn’t able to keep up her self-grooming. Her coat started to mat in places, and her clean white bib began to show stains she could no longer reach to lick clean. Her bright yellow eyes began to cloud with cataracts. She didn’t respond as quickly to sounds. She seemed to forget her reticence to be touched. Bobbie began to accept and give love in her old age.

Yesterday, as I climbed into the loft, I did not see her peeking at me from her usual perch. Instead, she lay on the floor, a little black shadow tucked up against a hay bale. Her body lay still and flat, deflated, eyes partially closed, white bib blemished, now yellow. She had gone during the night, leaving her tuxedo suit behind.

We will bury her today on a little hill overlooking the barn loft she occupied for so many years. We have wrapped her little body carefully in a soft blanket and will lay her gently in earth still warm from the autumn sunshine.

Freedom is now at hand and under the feet of four little white socked paws.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 11/05/09
Ah, Sweet kitty. From living lifestyles of the rich and famous to having freedom - nice.
Jan Ackerson 11/09/09
Oh, I love this! I'm such a sucker for cat stories, and hers especially moved me. Some of your beautiful sentences absolutely brought a lump to my throat. So very well-written.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/09/09
Sweet but sooo sad.
Ruth Brown11/09/09
A well told kitty story. Very sweet.
Patricia Turner11/10/09
A very sweet and hearwarming story. Love it!
Beth LaBuff 11/10/09
I love your cat story... what a great title! We just lost our twelve-year-old cat a couple weeks ago. I miss him.
Margaret Kearley 11/12/09
A beautiful story. As cat lovers who have had the sad task of laying a few wonderful friends to rest, this really touched my heart. I loved the line about leaving his whte tuxedo behind - made me think of Hazel in Watership Down!