Provenance of Willow

This has been a frustrating week of things not working and other distractions and I can’t seem to get the brain focused. So I thought I would use a piece I wrote a while ago to introduce you to Willow. Actually Willow 2, as there was another by the same name but that is another tale….

And for today’s challenge…..I am having trouble locating the photographs I want. After a week of fighting with my Mac, I took it to the fix-it lady in Bennington and to get its own back, the wretched thing has decided to hide some 6 or more years of photographs.

But I found this one of when Willow had just “come in”.

Willow appx 6 months old

One day, when I was at my window, a small grey cat emerged from under the bramble bushes on the hill where my house stood, just outside Seattle, and scampered down the slope, disappearing around the corner.

It wasn’t unusual to see a stray cat around the house, but the little grey one was new. I made a note to keep an eye out. A female would need to be trapped and spayed. I asked my cat-rescue friend Grant to get his trap ready.

I wasn’t planning to take in another cat. I already had a more than average number. Down-on-their-luck cats were constantly finding me. But the grey cat was young and we should easily find her a good home.

Next day, as I stood by the window, the new girl emerged once more from her hidey-hole up on the hill, but this time she stopped, quite deliberately lifting her head. Her eyes met mine and for a brief moment I felt recognition.

For many months I had been grieving for my little black cat Panther. He had been with me almost his whole life and he had been my special buddy. I suffer from depression, and his death had hit me hard.

As I struggled with my grief, I sought out any advice that might help. Among other things, I read that sometimes pets will come back and even occasionally to their previous owner.

With my inclination toward Buddhism, I tended to believe this possibility but when my eyes met those of the little grey cat, I put that jolt of recognition I’d felt down to wishful thinking.

The following morning Grant had his trap ready on the patio and our new small friend came boldly up to it and climbed in. It had taken mere minutes! I rushed down to my foster-suite to prepare the holding cage where we used to keep newly trapped cats till they could see the vet.

No animal likes being trapped and cats are particularly unappreciative. They always hiss and spit, doing their best to escape, so we opened the trap with great care. To our utter astonishment, “Little Grey” stepped daintily out into my lap, where she sat purring and gazing up at me. I like to think I heard her say, “Hello! Panther sent me.”

Needless to say, Little Grey is with me still. She is named Willow, after another sweet cat I loved and lost. As time goes on I find myself often wondering about her provenance.

Willow hides from all people other than Grant and myself, so how was she never afraid of me? How did she know she could trust me? And how did she bond so immediately and completely with me?

I don’t think Willow is Panther in another incarnation, though I can’t help but think that somehow Fate, or The Powers that Be, or whatever you prefer to call it, intervened to guide her to me. Whatever the case she is very special, just as he was.

When we brought Willow home from her check-up at the vet, we introduced her to the six other cats that lived upstairs, carefully supervising the interaction. Usually a strange cat is greeted with some suspicion by those already resident. At the very least there will normally be some growling, a little gentle hissing.

We were prepared to intervene and keep Willow safe behind a closed door for a day or two, which would be quite normal. To see her walk in, look around and simply settle in as if she knew the house and all its occupants was almost incredible.

From that first day whenever she sees that I am about to work on anything, Willow is by my side, whether it is brushing my teeth or making a cake. She is there to supervise, as if she feels I may need guidance.

But Willow is not always by my side. She is not a needy cat. She marches to her own tune and when she chooses, she can manage to hide more efficiently than any cat I have ever known. This is perfectly fine with me. I respect her independence because when she decides to be with me, she is completely there.

She will sit briefly in my lap as I hold her very gently, which she requires. Then I nuzzle her softly, enjoying her silky fur and her fresh scent as well as her quiet purr. As brief as these moments tend to be, they are special. We know each other. We love each other.

Willow reads my mind. She is my Spirit Cat.

10 thoughts on “Provenance of Willow

  1. She’s so sweet! I only have one cat (at a time), but they have such wonderful personalities and i love them so much. I think you are lucky to have so many feline friends.

  2. I have always loved every animal I ever knew and I don’t have favourites, as such, but there are inevitably some that really get inside your heart and soul. Yeti and Panther both did and now Willow but they were very different. Willow is quite a mystery cat. I never intended to have so many but I accepted them as fosters and I took the responsibility for however long… It can be hard work, frustrating at times…it causes behavior issues, but I love them all to bits. I was feeling kind of down this morning but a few cuddles soon got me cheered up.:)

  3. This is the first story I have read on your blog, and I loved it! My story briefly – my “heart” dog was a toy poodle named Cassie, who died on 1/12/18, just shy of 15 years old. I missed her terribly. It had been just us two for many years. Two weeks after she died, I had a very vivid dream. Cassie was sitting and staring at me. After a few seconds, she turned and walked into darkness. I knew that was goodbye. But then there was a cat sitting there! It was a calico cat with one black eye. I woke up, and thought “she just told me to get a cat!” I had never had one. A week later, I visited a couple shelters online and one in person who had a couple calico cats. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to get a calico or just a cat, but had faith Cassie would guide me. The calico cats showed zero interest in me. And then a sweet “bullseye” tabby, 8 years old and named Ellie Mae, met me at the door of one of the cat rooms. I sat in the rocking chair; she stood up and tapped my knee, clearly asking to jump up. I patted my lap, she jumped, started loudly purring. That was it! I have had her for 15 months, and she is the sweetest thing. I talk to her all the time, and remind her that we both have Cassie to thank!

  4. I can say with no apology that one dog I dearly loved returned to me in another of her (who knows how many) lives. I have no doubt of this possibility with your Willow.
    How blessed we all are who have the love of an animal.

    Your blog is well done. Looking forward to more!

  5. Good Day!
    I found your blog through Jon Katz and I am delighted that I did. I read back through prior posts and I am a lover of travel and cats. For more than twenty years of my career, I flew weekly to my various client offices as a consultant/project manager. I love everything about air travel but, most of all, I enjoy the people I meet and the feeling you get while being in the air. I sleep better on a plane than I do in a bed. I’ve met and made life-long friends while traveling. Every trip is an opportunity to widen one’s world and connect with extraordinary people.

    Thank you for your part in keeping traveler’s safe and making them feel welcomed.
    Because of the travel, I avoided taking on pets (I do have a daughter age 35 now) until 2008 when I moved into a gated community. From a distance I spotted a smallish cat across the street. As winter set in, I worried that the cat would not have shelter so I purchased a heated cat house which I put on my screened in porch. I then worried that the cat wasn’t getting enough food so I bought a bowl and the best food I could find. I turned out that the neighborhood was designated as TNR and that other neighbors also had food out for the cats!

    I named the cat Marley, after Bob Marley. A year or so later, during a vet visit necessitated by her injuring her leg jumping my front gate, I found out that “he” was a “she”. My neighbors were constantly telling me that they saw “my cat”. I would reply, “She’s not my kitty!” prompting a chuckle and eye roll from them. This earned her the full name “Not My Kitty Marley” or NMK Marley for short. 🙂 In 2016, when my lease was up, I moved and took Marley with me. We found a house across town with a fenced in yard. Marley spends her days on the covered patio napping or laying in the grass. In the evening, she comes inside and graces me with her presence.

    I look forward to reading your blog!

    1. Ha ha…it’s amazing what animals can persuade us to do without us even realizing they were pulling the strings! Best wishes to you and Marley. Grant had a Bob that turned out to be a Roberta but she remained Bob by name.

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