Bonner Day: A valley romance blooms

Bonner Day

Getting a cat is not unlike getting a wife or husband. The first step is to go where you can be sure of finding what you want. For cats the valley has a variety of rescue shelters. As a widower, I found my wife at a vineyard, of which the valley also has a variety – vineyards, that is.

The valley, with its valley girls, is a good place to find a sweet, loving wife. Yes, like the song, “I came to wive it merrily in Padua.” Though I still thought of her as a newlywed, we had been married for 10 years when my wife’s faithful cat Pipi began to deteriorate in health. As cat lovers will appreciate, Pipi was more a member of the family than I was. That is because Pipi had been with the wife for 20 years, whereas I only had 10 years of service. But now Pipi started losing weight and she seemed to be in pain.

Pipi was one cat in a million. I know every cat lover will say that of their own pet, but as a non-cat lover, I can testify that is true. And that caused a problem.

She was in a local pound when the wife found her. Or rather the cat found the wife. While she was walking alongside the pens, my wife felt a paw reach out and softly pat her arm. It was as if Pipi was saying, “Pick me.” The wife took the cat to her heart and home that same day.

Pipi’s whole life proved that her friendliness was no onetime thing. Whenever a stranger came to the house – maids, plumber, delivery men–Pipi immediately came and greeted them. As far as she was concerned, Pipi was called to be the welcome lady of all strangers. Unlike many of our feline friends, she genuinely loved people. She was constantly rubbing against my legs – and I am not a cat person. Every evening she would crawl into the lap of the wife and watch television. And Pipi purred contentedly whenever she was petted.

So the wife, a widow, became strongly attracted to this loving Maine Coon cat and they lived together for over 20 years. Having Pipi put out of her misery was very hard, though she knew it was a mercy and completely necessary.

Some time had passed before the wife started looking for another cat. Olivia was completely different from Pipi. She was black and white like a killer whale, with a short fat tail. All cats are aware of their self-worth, but Olivia was even more so. She ate and slept and roamed through the rooms, but had absolutely nothing to do with the people in the house. It was like she was the master of the house and we were servants to be seen and heard as little as possible whenever we were not filling her dishes or cleaning her litter pan. No purring, no cuddling, no rubbing against pants leg.

After a week, Olivia was back in the shelter, which had a return policy.

I felt bad about returning Olivia, but the wife explained that a cat is a long-term commitment just like a husband.

Lucy, our next cat guest, was another Maine Coon cat and looked much like Pipi. That resemblance was much in her favor. But she seemed the typical aloof cat. She liked to sit in the same room as the family, however, and would even sit on the same chair as one of the family members. I watched nervously, hoping she would become friendlier as she became used to the surroundings.

After a few days Lucy started showing a preference for me, which left me with mixed feelings. I don’t particularly like cats and I didn’t want her to endanger my position in the house. She would sit on my footstool, or if I were on the couch, come to lounge next to me.

The wife, to my nervous eye, is constantly evaluating the cat – and maybe me as well. The cat doesn’t know she is flirting with disaster. But I have been careful to pick up after myself and not make messes, and I’m folding my napkin properly at the table.   I am hoping there is not going to be another dissatisfied return trip. But I am very much aware that if there are ways to get rid of cats, the same applies to husbands.

Bonner Day is a journalist who who has roamed the world but chosen to retire in Shenandoah County. He and his wife live on a modest acreage in Maurertown, small enough to see each other regularly but big enough to avoid bumping over each other.