My cat tries not to notice my toe as I run it under the sheets and quilt. Her bodies twitches and then she flips upside down. She purrs a loud motor boat purr and keeps one claw dug deep into the quilt’s fabric. She’s pretending not to care.
PNut Budda, a fluffy long hair calico, is one of 12 cats living with us—me, Bob, Robert (our Westie) and Rocky (our old Cocker), and the 14 birds. PNut Budda is my miracle girl. We have history. We’re connected spiritually. She’s my kittay… as are all the other 11 but PNut Budda has story with me.
Nutter Butter (as I sometimes call her) got hit by a car. It was fall, October and she went outside late one morning. She’d been up on the deck but by 4 p.m. when I called in the kitties, she didn’t show. I got a bit worried but continued to call her every 5 minutes or so. Normally, my cat call, the one that goes like this, “Pnut Budda, Razberry Ja-am, AppyCot
Jelly, Kittens!” Didn’t work.
By 7 o’clock I was beside myself with worry. By 10, with no help from the moon, I took off on foot. With zero light, I walked blind to the road and at the edge of my driveway, a stray dog was lurking and gave me a low warning growl. Instantly, my anger peaked and I lunged toward the noise and yelled at the invisible dog that stood only feet away. It ran off and didn’t deter me from my task, calling for Pnut.
She never came home that night. I woke at 1 a.m. and went out again, calling her, walking the road, walking down by the pond, screaming for her by then. At 3, I repeated my attempts to call her in. To no avail. She never showed up and the next day, exhausted, worried, red-eyed, I tried to take reservations and run a business.
At 11:30a, a knock on the door offered up an aging neighbor woman who said she’d “hit a cat while driving home” and worried that it was mine. She described the cat. Pnut Budda to a tee. I wanted to appear calm.
She’d hit her but they were driving slow enough that it only grazed her.
“Where is she?”
“Well, see that’s the thing.” The woman looked at her friend then back at me. “We called the vet on Mullis but they were closed so we called the vet out on Beaverton Valley Road” (some 5 miles away from our house). “When we got there, the cat snapped to, got upset and darted out of the vet’s office.”
“The door was open!?” At this point I lost my mind. Calmness melted and I can honestly say that I freaked out.
I was still in my pajamas. I slipped on my tennis shoes, put on a thick jacket and drove to the vet’s office where I grilled the receptionist about what happened. This was not one of my better moments. I was not amicable. I didn’t try to hide my feelings. Vets are supposed to care for animals not lose them. They’d lost my cat. She was injured. Maybe with a concussion and they’d lost her. And, I lost it.
She told me which direction Pnut Budda had fled—up a steep hill through blackberry bramble into the neighborhood overlooking the road where the vet’s office sat. So up I went. But, I couldn’t find her. I searched for hours going house to house to the north and scouring a stretch of land that covered acres and miles. Nothing.
After returning home around 4, after crying all the way home, I fell into bed and slept. I would wake up and cry and then fall back asleep.
The next morning I had a bit more energy and more drive to find her. I went back to the vet’s and tried to mend the damage from the day before. I retraced my steps—her steps, up the bramble to the neighborhood again. This time I went due west but due west came to an abrupt stop at a community water system which had a six-foot high chain link fence around it. The only way around it was north or south. This time I turned south but my legs wouldn’t move.
It was at this point something miraculous happened. A cat, no Pnut Budda, a neighborhood cat, a dark tabby with attitude. It sat next to its home looking as if it were bored. It gazed over at me.
“Have you seen my cat?” I actually spoke the words to this animal. At which it responded by looking away from me and toward the bramble which I’d climbed through twice. “Is she there?” The neighbor cat looked at me again, looked at the bramble again and then turned as if to say I told you yes. Yes I’ve seen her. And she sauntered off.
I walked to the spot where the cat was sitting, turned to the bramble and squeaked out, “Pnut Budda?” That’s when I heard.
A weak mewling came from inside a tangle of thorns, berries and tiny thick leaves.
All at once, my kitty poked her head out. She was alive! When I screamed her name again, she darted back into the bramble. Now this bramble looked more like a wall than the hill climbing stuff I’d climbed through before, it looked like a dare. I neared the spot where she exited. And waited.
When she poked her head out again I snatched the scruff of her neck and pulled her to me, into my chest, into my arms and held her tight.
Whenever I look at her, which is all of the time, I think about our miracle together. And when she bites my toes under the covers, I thank God that He led me to her. And think, isn’t that something?
Oh, by the way, Pnut Budda always ends up in my novels. In fact, she is the cat, Delilah, in SPIDER BRAINS.
You can purchase a copy of SPIDER BRAINS at: http://amzn.to/GFSuh0
- Cats & Writing Novels: The Link (susanwingate.wordpress.com)