H. A. Byrd

My Cat 

We lived, at the time, in a no-stoplights mountain town in northwest Montana. My husband and three sons spent a bright August day fishing. I stuck my head out the back door when they arrived home, “Did you catch anything?”

They approached the house, walking abreast, fishing poles in hand. “We caught a catfish!” One son dangled a kitten from his hand, gripping it around its little chest. Under the pretext of a fishing trip, they’d snuck over to Idaho to pick up my birthday present.

Sixteen years of age now, Catfish is a big boy. Grey mackerel in color, he’s got a white bib and paws. One of those animals who seem like an elder since a young age, there’s something about his expressions, his choices.

He’s had a Facebook account since 2005; three years before I had one and with ten times the friends. He’s been on there since before all we nosey adults got onto Facebook and ruined it for the kids. It makes sense though, that he has a page, because this gentleman feline lives an interesting life.

Like many cats, he’s had household adventures, like the time he got his fat self stuck upside-down behind the hot water heater and I had to rush home sixty miles to free him before he suffocated. Or when he and Tubbles went missing for two days, came home drenched in a rainstorm, and young Lucy (sister of Tubbles) beat them both up for making her worry.

But our Catfish, while courteous and honorable, is also a rebel. He loves to chase deer, even after having been stomped by one. I suppose the danger adds to the adrenaline rush. Dragging socks around the house and calling out is not enough for him. Oh, no.

He steals the goods out of dresser drawers. Once he brought my underwear downstairs into the living room when we had company. I was just glad that he robbed my drawer and not the laundry basket. For a while, when my youngest was at home, Catfish would collect the dollar bills left lying around and make himself a nest under the dining room table.

Although we live on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the family is always ready for a travel adventure. All three cats have been across the US several times by minivan. An extended camping trip in New England showed them birds they’d never seen before, and strange-looking squirrels. This was followed by a year in Salem MA, and another in Providence, RI.

Catfish once rode for two months in an eighteen-wheeler. He loved it. Safely harnessed to stay clear of the driver area, he could nap on the bunk or sit in the other seat. The blind spot window in the passenger door near the floor was perfectly cat-sized, framing him as he observed the passing scenery. When traveling through towns, people waiting on the curb would squeal, “A cat! Look!” Catfish would smile and lick his treasured white paws in validation. Proud of his paws, he spends a lot of time cleaning them just-so.

Whether he’s baiting the dog, protecting his juniors from danger, or giving me the nightly nine-o’clock “canned cat food” stare, this cat inspires a loving respect from all who know him. He hates diets, loves sunbeams, and will not put up with vacuum cleaners. In an uncanny way he seems to understand English. Nothing gets by this fellow.

Catfish, my Catfish. May you continue to charm us with your feline poise and special flair. Who doesn’t love a gentleman rebel?

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Copyright © 2020 Harriet Arden Byrd