If you’ve been following our story, you may have noticed that our family is gaga for animals. We collect them as casually as people collect, say, matchbooks or Pez dispensers. Oh, look! A _______________! We don’t have one of those yet! You can fill in the blank with any number of the fish, rodents, lagomorphs, and dogs that have passed through our house. My daughter has most recently been drawing up an action plan to convince her father that having a couple of sheep in the paddock out back would not only be a good idea, but essential to her happiness.
She has a tough road ahead of her. My husband is one of two people in our household, who do not think that sharing your space with an abundance of animals is delightful. His mini-me, our second son, rolls his eyes heavenward and heaves a weary sigh whenever a new animal is added to our menagerie. He dutifully helps take care of the dogs, but with no great enthusiasm. Whenever one of us starts talking about adding yet another hamster, or a couple of ducks, or a fish to the mix, our very own Jiminy Cricket issues dire predictions about the troubles that are likely to ensue as a result of our animal profligacy. He tries to warn us of our folly, and then eventually throws his hands up in despair and retires to his own bedroom, one of the only places in our house where peace and order reign.
In the past we have considered providing shelter to horses, llamas, goats, ducks, guinea hens, quails, turtles, and even snakes. The one animal I was never tempted to keep was a cat. But…sometimes you choose, and sometimes you are chosen. Parson, a cat we only latterly discovered to be a “she” rather than a “he,” chose us, or rather chose to let us live in her/our house.
My daughter took over Parson’s care and feeding, and we tried to make her as comfortable as possible on our back porch. In the corner of our porch, we installed a pet carrier outfitted with a cozy bed and a self-warming pad. For the two years we’ve lived in our house, Parson has spent her days and nights there. She has expressed satisfaction with our services by rubbing up against our legs when we go out to greet her. Our dopey little dogs have repeatedly tried to make friendly overtures to her, signaling their goodwill with their cocked heads and wagging tails. She will have nothing to do with their foolishness. As soon as she catches sight of them, she hisses at them as if she is ready to start World War III.
The polar vortex had us worrying about Parson. It’s been so cold the kids have now twice had an hour school delay. One day we opened the door to see if we could coax the cat inside to warm up for awhile. We finally managed to lure her in with some treats, but as soon as the dogs came running up to greet her, she hissed and ran under the oven to hide. She was still there a few hours later when I had to leave the house. I was dreading what I would find when I returned home.
“Did the cat ever come out?” I asked my children when I got back.
“Oh yeah! She came out,” Jiminy Cricket replied casually.
“How did you get her out?”
“I just put some food out in the kitchen and she came out to eat.”
“And she’s back outside now?”
“No? Where is she?”
“She’s in my room. She likes it there.”
“Oh! Well, let’s let her outside so she can go to the bathroom.”
“Not a good idea,” Jiminy Cricket said, shaking his head, “It’s way too cold out there for her.”
“Well, but…how’s she going to go to the bathroom?”
“We set up the guinea pigs’ litter box in my room.”
There are so many reasons for being shocked by these revelations I don’t even know where to begin…
“So what are we going to do with her? She hates the dogs…”
“She’ll live in my room.”
Still shaking my head in wonder, I braced myself for the difficult conversation I was going to have with my husband about the matter. I explained to him our son’s surprising position on the cat.
“Well, that’s no good.”
My heart sank.
“She can’t stay in his room forever.”
“Eventually, I want her to come out and socialize with everyone, including the dogs.”
And that, my friends, is a Christmas miracle.