My brother Joe is under the weather -- so instead of myths and legends, you're gonna be reading my story about cats. If you'd rather hear a folklore story, just pretend the cat I'm writing about is a ghost...
I never cared too much about cats. When I was young, our sweet, innocent dog was attacked by a cat, leaving a big red gash on her nose. That didn't help make me a fan of cats.
Over the years, I never quite got along with most cats that I came across. More often than not, I would get hissed at or scratched. Much my same experience with girls. Looking back, I understand this was because I treated cats the way you would treat a dog, which was a bit rougher and "in your face" than they like.
Fast-forward 40 years, and I notice that my neighbor is feeding a stray cat near his truck at the back of our apartment complex. He told me that the cat's name was Shadow, and that it used to be very wild and aggressive.
As he tells it, his first contact with Shadow came one day when he was sunbathing on the lawn out back. Out of nowhere, Shadow raced up to him and sunk her fangs into his arm.
Since he was now feeding Shadow, I assumed that their relationship had since taken a turn for the better.
Not too long after this, I returned home one day and noticed that Shadow was sitting at my neighbor's front door (which is next to my door at the top of a staircase). Just sitting there as if she was a package waiting to be stolen.
As I approached the stairs, Shadow became frightened. She flew down the steps and ran away from me just as quickly as she could. It was my high school prom night all over again.
This happened a few more times, and each time Shadow ran down the steps, she would hug the railing, inadvertently banging her head pretty hard against that metal railing all the way down. Clang-clang-clang-clang-clang!
I started feeling guilty that this poor little cat was giving itself a concussion just because I was some big scary monster who dared to return home from the grocery store.
I tried giving Shadow advanced warning of my impending arrival by shuffling my feet along the walkway which led to the stairs; but no matter how far away I was, she still freaked out and raced down the steps, banging her head against the railing every time.
So I decided to make this cat no longer fear me. This was my mission. How hard could it be?
I started to feed Shadow, to show her that I was a good guy. I didn't have any cat food, so I fed her some sliced-up hot dogs. She was afraid at first, but it didn't take long before she was literally eating right from my hand (and luckily not eating my actual hand).
As I gained her trust, Shadow began to enter and explore my apartment. I was taken aback at first, but she assured me that she had a search warrant, so everything seemed on the up and up.
Careful to stay far back, so as not to frighten her, I left the front door wide open so that she wouldn't feel trapped. These nightly explorations grew longer and longer. In fact, sometimes I thought she may have fallen asleep while exploring my bedroom. Sometimes she would be in there alone for 15 minutes or so, and then suddenly run out of the apartment as if she wasn't sure where she was or what she was doing there. Luckily, by this stage in my life, I was used to that sort of behavior.
Over time, I realized that I had done my job too well. Not only did this cat no longer fear me -- she absolutely adored me. Or, at the very least, she adored the hot dogs I was feeding her. Whichever the case, I claimed the credit.
About a year later, Shadow waltzed into my apartment one day carrying a dead rat in her mouth. Oh no! I've heard stories about cats bringing dead birds and mice to their owners, but this was something I definitely did not want to deal with. Tiny dead animal carcases were nowhere on my Amazon gift list.
"No! Stay out!" I yelled. "Do not bring that thing inside," I ordered.
Completely oblivious to my orders, Shadow continued to trot right past me, where she proceeded to drop the dead rat right in the middle of my living room.
When I saw it start to move, I realized it was not a rat at all, but a tiny newborn kitten. It was Shadow's baby! It was a Christmas miracle! Well, okay, this was in October, but still...
So what happened next? Did other kittens follow? Did the kitten's daddy show up? Did the kitten put on a top hat and perform a dance number? Stay tuned for Part 2.
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