The cat brings home a problem he can't solve. Article appeared originally in CATS magazine 02/93
After the demise of Tom, our big black tomcat, we thought it best not to try to keep another. However, as my son was leaving the house one bitter cold night he almost stepped on a tiny, shivering black ball of fur. Upon bringing the nearly frozen little creature into the house, the die was cast. The children would not part with the little male kitten and immediately named him T.J. (for Tom Jr.).
After a few tons of cat food and all the family love he could stand, he grew into a magnificent 16 pound black monochrome. His manners indoors were impeccable; outdoors he was a terror. On one occasion, he chased a large dog off 'his' lawn. Inscrutability could not hide a high level of feline intelligence, as we discovered when he found that shaking the storm door with his paw gained immediate assistance to enter. We thought it unlikely he realized the inside lights reflecting off the door glass signaled his presence. (In any case, this trick was to serve in good stead.)
One evening the light reflection seemed to dance with such urgency that I hastily answered his bidding. The door was barely open when he forced his way in. This was not his usual regal entry, and what followed was not the "cool cat" T.J. usually personified. He began to run frantically about the living room and, breaking the cardinal rule, jumped on the furni-
ture. First on the easy chair and then on the couch...up and across the back...now down on the floor and into, of all places, the coat closet where he found the door ajar. By now, I was sure something was amiss and even had a sinking feeling that he might be rabid.
I peered cautiously into the closet and discovered him up on the hat shelf. He didn't display any signs of madness other than his frenetic dashing about so I decided to retrieve him. As soon as I held him he calmed noticeably and his problem was immediately apparent. His legs wre soaked to the "elbow" joint with fuel oil! The solution to his problem was evident.
We partlly filled a basin with warm water, and T.J. resignedly stood in it as each of his feet was washed with bath soap, rinsed under a warm faucet and toweled dry. Our veterinarian told us later, had we left T.J. to his own devices, he would have eventually licked the fuel oil off and fatally ingested it.
As he lay on the floor, exhausted and asleep, I pondered T.J.'s dilemma. His instinct or good sense had told him he could not tolerate the foul substance on his feet, nor could he remove it the way nature intended.
I found myself wondering. Was it that peculiar bond existng between certain domestic animal species and their human masters that motivated T.J. that night? Or, had something be-yond that compelled him to seek out and place his faith and trust in a higher being? Perhaps the message there is more profound than we recognize.
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