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”.
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.