Cat in a Nest of Green
December 13, 2006-
Today, while on my late lunch break, I took my book over to the garden in front of one of our buildings. It’s not nearly as fancy as the one by the greenhouse. Just a waist high wall filled with soil and plants. It has tall grass, deep ivy, and a ginger and white tomcat. He’s recently started to warm up to people, and I thought it would be nice to have some company while I read.
He’s not quite used to the idea of laps. And he’s just as likely to put a pleased claw into something (usually your leg) as he is to let you pet him. But he loves to be talked to, and the people who work on that side of the building have remarked how the traffic on that side has increased since he became more outgoing. They walk by, peering into the tall grass, hoping to catch a glimpse of ginger and white in a nest of green. If they’re lucky, he’ll be in a good mood and will come out to be petted. If not, they get the usual result of petting a strange cat who is unhappy with being disturbed.
I noticed as I read how people seemed to veer slightly towards me and the cat as they passed by. They would stride up, waver a little over whether or not to pet him, and then keep walking. It amused me. Finally, a young man in BDUs slowed, peering into the grass in obvious intent. “He’s over here,” I said, pointing down into the nest of grass beside me.
A smile broke out over his face. He stood a respectful distance from the wall I was sitting on, and watched the cat for a moment. “You can pet him if you’re careful. He’s in a good mood.”
The young man reached out his hand to the cat, carefully not coming within clawing range. “Here boy. Come here,” he murmured, waggling his fingers at the cat.
The cat was unimpressed.
“Curl your hand up,” I told him “And offer it closed. It’s okay to get closer.”
The young man closed his hand, pushed in a little closer to the cat. The cat curled up, turning away from the man and settling in for a nap. The man pulled his hand back, disappointed. He looked at me and smiled. “I see this cat here every day.”
I nodded and smiled back at him. He looked down once more at the cat. “I guess that’s just one of the constants here at A&M,” he said, and then walked away.
I looked down at the ball of orange and white, and suddenly felt sad. Someday that young man would graduate and go away. And he would always remember with fondness this cat in his nest of tall grass. This cat who only recently learned to love then feel of hands on his fur, who still doesn’t know the joy of a good lap, who was learning to trust human hands holding food. To the young man, this cat was just another part of his college experience. For me, the cat was suddenly every cat I had ever loved and lost.
This afternoon, this sweet boy was found underneath the building he was named after. He had been missing for over a week, and we all feared the worst. It seems he passed away peacefully, and there is a part of me that is grateful he was found so that we would know.
We loved him, and now we have lost him. He never really belonged to anyone, but he belonged to all of us just the same. May his next life be filled with sunny spots in soft ivy, squirrels to chase, and loving hands to pet and feed him.
Rest in peace, Bisbee.