Bonnie the Cat

Photo by Jaroslav Maria

She had been an abandoned cat living in a shelter. Being an orphan with an uncertain future must be very stressful even for an animal! Then she was picked up by our daughter who lives in a two bedroom condo, a very comfortable place for one person. But there is neither that much space to roam around, nor much happening or to see for a cat on the third floor of an apartment building.

She was shy and would hide when people came visiting, amazing as there were not any apparent hiding places in such a small place. Her favorite turned out to be a tiny triangular space behind the microwave, but occasionally she was found in a utility room under a hot water tank.

Sharon’s vacations were also the cat’s holidays since she would go to our house to be cared for. At first she would immediately hide from us as well. In the big house the hide and seek was much more fun for all three of us. But my wife is a cat whisperer and soon she would win her over and Bonnie came out into the open.

Now when Sharon came back from her trips to pick her up, Bonnie would hide when she heard her voice at the door. She didn’t want to go back home and be hiding just behind the microwave or in the utility room.

Eventually, we all felt that Bonnie would be happier living in a spacious house. By then it was later in her life and it was later in our lives as well, so we wondered how the change of domicile would work out.

There we were, three mature creatures learning to cohabitate permanently. Sometimes maturity is a good thing as it makes one capable of recognizing and accepting the vulnerabilities of others with empathy. The two humans and the shrewd animal squared off to determine who will set the rules, but soon the cat conceded.

“Okay, you humanoids, have it your way, may I now snuggle in?”

It was fun to watch the transformation. First came the getting acquainted stage. Exploring is the second most important thing for a cat to do, right after sleeping and eating. It is a keen observer. Even when sleeping to the point of snoring, its eyes closed, the cat knows what is going on. It has a great sense of smell, sees seemingly without opening its eyes and hears every little sound, even the minutest rustle. Its senses seem to work independently behind the scene. Fascinating!

Once its initial distrust is dispersed, the cat becomes a loving pet just like a dog. People keep hamsters, turtles, bunnies or even snakes for pets but that is not the same thing. Try for eye contact with a snake or a fish I dare you! Only cats and dogs can become real pals.

But there is a fundamental difference between the two animals. The human family is its pack to a dog that is eager to please and its feelings are transparent, while the cat is solitary and mythical. It will go to no ends to establish her independence, although it is only for the show. If you watch clandestinely you can catch it off guard. Carefully hidden inside is a loving creature, and in Bonnie’s case even a needy one, because there had been too much trauma in her life. Luckily her last home was a place with two laps rather than one to luxuriate on.

Soon harmony was established that lasted until the very end. Especially the two females developed a very close bond. They read, cooked and played together. Speaking about the difference between dogs and cats, Bonnie followed her new mistress as a dog would. In that, she really was not so catlike. Lying on my wife’s chest while she was reading was one of her favourites. Sometimes she would sit upright and stare over the edge of the book until she succeeded; the book would be put away and they both fell into a slumber. There was a special friendship between those two that only grew with time.

Left for me was to play the second fiddle. But even so, there was plenty of affection left and besides, the human female would retire every night earlier so the cat would come down to my man cave to lie in her little bed on the stool next to my armchair. She would hug an arm I offered and let me massage her tummy. There is nothing softer than the fine hair on a cat’s belly! When I decided to move to the couch she would patiently wait until I spread a blanket over myself and then she would settle in the groove between my legs. She became unexpectedly elongated, slender and fit in snugly. We usually watched TV or listened to classical music. I do not think she liked the timpani, though.

It is amazing how caring for such a small, tough yet vulnerable creature changes one’s life. I spent years photographing her, the camera always on ready. It was written, that if you have a pet you must buy a camera, or if you have just a camera, get a pet as an indispensable accessory.

Everything must come to an end eventually. Losing a loved one, if it is a human or an animal is very sad. It may be sadder with an animal than it is with a child as one is so totally responsible for their welfare.

Bonnie is gone now, but not forgotten. In our sub-conscience, she is still around. There are so many places in the house where she used to lie or where she used to sit and look out of the window to watch the comings and goings in the street. The lid is still put down on the toilet seat lest she falls into it and the doors are carefully checked every night to see if they are closed so that “Bonnishka” cannot escape and become lost.

I now spread the blanket over my legs only for the prosaic reason to keep warm when watching television, darn it!