Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: CAT (11/08/18)
TITLE: Blessings of a Cat
By Louis Detweiler
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Mollie, an ordinary house cat, lives on our small farm in Vermont with two dogs and three other cats. We have farm animals that stay in the barn and the surrounding pasture only. But the dogs and cats are considered family and are at home in the barn, pasture, and house. Mollie wasn’t trained by my wife, Penni, or I. She caught a mouse or bird now and then, always proudly displaying her prowess by showing off her game by dropping it off on the kitchen floor. The cats disputed their napping places, but no fights. Mollie, the oldest at ten years, is a calico cat with thick fur. She had kept her distance from Ben, our oldest dog, a long-haired Golden Retriever, leaving him to guard the house. She only watched Steamer, a younger Dalmatian, as he was always sniffing and poking his nose in everybody’s business. She had no training except to go to the bathroom in the cat litter box or outside. Sometimes she slept in the barn and sometimes in the house depending on the weather.
When Ben turned fifteen, he developed large cataracts, reducing his eyesight considerably. One day Mollie watched Ben hesitate at the back porch as he tried to climb the steps. I watched as Mollie went over to Ben and guided him up the steps. Eventually, Ben’s eyesight became worse and he walked into chairs and tables in the house. Mollie would meow at Ben, then Ben would follow the meow back to his pillow.
One day we called Ben, but he didn’t respond. When Steamer barked at him, he took no notice. We called him to come get his food, but he just laid on his pillow. Mollie sensed the situation and went over to Ben and nudged him with her nose. Ben then followed Mollie to his dinner plate, so he could eat. Mollie waited patiently for Ben to finish and then led Ben back to his pillow.
When Ben would nervously look around, Mollie was right there to lead Ben out the door, down the steps, and out into the yard so he could relieve himself. The two became inseparable. When Ben would lie down on his pillow, Mollie would lie down right next to him and they would sometimes sleep together. After Ben would fall asleep Mollie got up, ate her food and did her business.
We gave Mollie breaks from her nursing endeavors, by taking Ben for walks. Ben always greeted us by sniffing our hands. Once he knew who I was he would wag his tail in greeting. Without Mollie, and on the leash, he allowed Penni and I to guide him along the familiar wooded path behind our farm. Steamer and the other two cats always gave Ben a respectable amount of space. I don’t think they knew what to make of him.
Our problem with Ben was when he would start barking. Sometimes he would bark incessantly in the middle of the night. We couldn’t tell him to stop because he couldn’t hear. The only way I could calm him down was to hold him and pet him until he subsided. Sometimes he kept barking after I held him for a while. Eventually, Mollie would come over from her blanket in the corner and brush up against Ben with her tail. Immediately, Ben turned around and sniffed her. After Ben smelled Mollie, he quieted down.
Mollie’s blanket was put right next to Ben’s pillow. When Ben started to bark, Mollie gently nuzzled Ben and soothed him until he stopped. They both slept on Ben’s pillow. Mollie’s blanket extending onto the surrounding floor.
Ben, our faithful friend who guarded the farm with utmost attention has passed. Penni and I buried him in our family burial plot. Mollie, now sixteen, gets along quite well with her can of cat food and kibbles every day. Sometimes she sleeps in the barn and sometimes in the house. She is aloof as ever.
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