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Shinn column: And now, a word from the cat

When I interviewed artist Adele Goodman not long ago, she wanted to know if I was an animal-lover.
Yes, I told her. I do love animals. Other people’s animals. Outside. Not in my house.
Well.
This all changed last Tuesday.
Son Andrew and I happened to be riding bikes in the neighborhood. I wanted to take one last run around the cul-de-sacs.
Big mistake.
As I pedaled past the thicket of honeysuckle, a white blur caught my eye.
It was a cat. A tiny kitten, actually. All alone. Mewing. Sneezing. Eyes nearly matted shut.
But obviously not matted shut enough not to notice the word “SUCKER” on my forehead.
I stopped the bike and tried to figure out what to do.
I parked the bike, picked her up and carried her to the house. Got out a can of tuna and a saucer of milk.
Sat with her while she ate.
Outside.
Andrew came home later and did a double-take.
“That’s a cat!” he said.
“Yes, yes it is,” I told him.
“What are you going to do with it?” he asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said.
We left some towels for her out on the porch. The next morning, there she was. I know. Duh.
I called my friend at the animal shelter. He said if she was sick there probably wasn’t much they could do for her.
So I called Anne Ingram with Faithful Friends.
Would I be willing to be a foster pet parent? she said.
Yes, yes I would.
I am not sure who took over my body at that point.
I knew that somewhere my mother would be appalled. She is much like me. Except the reason she doesn’t like animals is because a large dog chased her when she was a little girl. She never got over it. Plus she’s a neat freak. But she was tolerant of all the pets we had over the years, I will say that.
Anyway, Anne said if we’d foster the kitty that Faithful Friends could help with the vet’s expenses.
Turns out the kitty just had a cold, and after a few days of antibiotics, she perked right up.
Boy, did she perk up.
I am reminded of the line from “Olivia,” in which every morning our porcine heroine gets up, moves the cat, brushes her teeth, moves the cat, gets dressed, moves the cat…
She’s become quite the climber. Just last night, she figured out how to get up on the bed. This morning I watched her do it. She climbs up the wicker laundry basket then plops onto the mattress. All she’s lacking is a climbing harness ó and knowing the theme from “Mission Impossible.”She also loves the inside of the dishwasher.
But she’s not that much trouble. I am happy to report that Andrew has pretty much taken over the feeding and litter box duties. I figure this will be a good experience for him. I always knew I’d end up being a “cat lady,” you know, with the piles of books on the floor, the sweater with the hole in the elbow and naturally, the cat. I’ve got the books. I’ve got the sweater. Now, evidently, I’ve got the cat.
Somewhere, Adele is smiling. My mother is not.

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