I’ve told you stories over the past several months about some of our pets. You all know about Pepper the parrot, Popoki the cat, and Justin the cat. I have yet to tell you about “Bob” (sometimes, depending on his behavior of the moment, he was our sweet little Bobby, and other times, rarely, he was Robert.)
Bob chose us to be his family. We had absolutely no choice in the matter – and we did try, initially, at least to get him to change his mind, and find another family. We are so grateful that he won.
We were living in Knoxville, TN at the time. We already had two other cats, and our life-saving dog, Elvira, and of course, Pepper. Money was tight as usual, and the expense of correctly caring for another animal was enough to make us firmly against taking in another animal. Period. (Actually, Hubs was the one who added the period. I was more of a comma person, maybe sometimes a semi-colon type.) The parsonage and the church shared about 13 acres of beautiful East Tennessee rural property. Gorgeous trees, beautiful grass/pastureland. Our home’s corner of the lot was at the intersection of the main road, and a side street. For years, that particular corner had been the “dumping ground” for unwanted animals. During our 7-year tenure, we took on the “home-finding” tasks for a few of those hapless and helpless lost creatures. There was “Ernie,” the adorable, Benjie-looking, little terrier. He had an unfortunate trait. He had completely reversed the utilitarian uses for “outdoors,” and “indoors.” Made for some interesting housekeeping chores. We were able to find a great home for him, though. The woman who took him loved him on sight, and with full knowledge of his peculiar proclivities. There were other dogs and cats that passed through on their way elsewhere. It was one of the little “sideline” jobs of pastoring in that community.
Then came Bob. An orange/white tabby kitten with a 2-inch-long tail (that’s why we called him Bob!) was heard yowling pitifully, from a limb on one of the big trees in our yard, seemingly helpless. We had two of our three sons living with us at the time. When we could no longer stand the cries and pleas coming from this noisy kitten, our sons did some climbing and coaxing to get the kitten who would come to be known as Bob out of the tree. We figured he would move on, but he didn’t. He stayed within fifteen feet of our back door for several days. We had no idea where he was getting his food or water. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I told Hubs that I was at the very least going to put a bowl of water on the porch for the poor little guy. He allowed that was OK, but that we really should encourage him to move along, and not feed him. We advertised through the church the particulars of our little foundling, hoping some family would decide to take him in, and save us the sad chore of taking him to the over-crowded animal shelter.
While waiting for this miracle to happen, Bob began to attach himself to our family and home – both literally and figuratively. He had a charming way of climbing the nearby tree and demanding that one of us come save him. He managed to figure out that as it was summer, and quite warm, we would leave the back door open, the screen door closed, to give the house a little cross ventilation (usually at night when the air was cooler). He discovered that if he jumped up onto the screen door, his little claws could hang on, and hold him there indefinitely. He commenced his daily hours-long stints of attaching himself to the screen, and crying and piteously yowling for as long as his throat would last, before his voice slowly dwindled down for the day. He remained attached to the door and whenever he saw one of us, he would give us the even more pitiful “silent meow.” When I say “attached” to the door, I really mean it. No matter how firmly you opened and shut the door, or would swing it back and forth in an effort to “unstick” him from it, he held on for the ride – he actually seemed to enjoy it and look forward to it.
I could stand it no longer. Although well hydrated, he was getting noticeably thinner; we had come to the conclusion that he wasn’t leaving the house, even to hunt for something to eat. Hubs was not subjected to the pitiful noise every day as I was, because he was at work most days. One day, I decided I would step out on the back stoop and see if he would come to me. No worries there. When he saw me (from up in the tree), he came scampering down and jumped into my lap, and commenced to nuzzling me on my neck, purring loudly into my ear. Still I tried to hold firm to our “no additional pets” fiat, but then he did what put the final kibosh on our declaration: he began to chirp. There was no other word for it. He sounded like a little bird, and cheeped and chirped repeatedly, in between his purring bouts. He stayed glued to me, and I was in no mood to put him down. He oozed charm, and more than that, he radiated peace. He was happy, and no one could resist feeling the same way. Later in the day (after I had finally conceded to his needs, and put some food out for him), Ashley walked up to the back door, and saw me sitting there with Bob in my lap. He stopped in his tracks, and forming his two index fingers into the traditional vampire-cursing cross, he rolled his eyes, and then proceeded up to where Bob and I were seated. I said, in my more conciliatory voice, “I know honey. We can’t keep him. Just hold him for a second while I go inside for a minute.” Bob did his “thing.” He nuzzled, purred and chirped in Hubs’ ear, and Hubs was a “goner.” He called out to me, “Paula, call the vet! We’ve got ourselves another cat, and he needs his shots, worming, and neutering.” Of course, I knew it would happen. He’s even more of a softy than I am. Bob came indoors, and was an instant part of our family – accepted by the rest of our zoo with no hesitation. But the thing that got to us more than any other of his antics (to that date), was the fact that he never again went outside willingly. He would stop by an open door, briefly, look out on our yard, and would then proudly strut away, his tail held high. We knew exactly what he was thinking – “Been there, done that.”
This ends Part One of my little tale of “little tail.” More to come soon. There is much more to the story of Bobby.
I hope you all, my Gentle Readers, will never let go of any of the opportunities to entertain the angels that come to your doorstep. You might never know what you would have missed. And, of course, I wish you all enough. . .