My Dead Cat. Part 1: The First Three Lives
Updated: Mar 10, 2019
A few days ago I was running at 11 o’clock at night when I saw a cat lounging in the street. I thought to myself, what an idiot dumb cat sitting in the road like that and I kept running. Then I saw more cats under cars, in driveways, behind trashcans and they’re all staring directly at me. They move nothing but their heads and a lazy flick of the tail while I run by and it’s like they know I’m nothing to be a scaredy cat about (sure wish the dogs felt this way). They’re just outside owning the night. Just me and the cats.
And it reminded me of my own dumb cat. My dumb dead cat. But oh the stories she left me with…
I bought my first house in 2011 and a year later decided I wanted a roommate. But not one that would leave dishes in the sink or socks on the doorknob, so I opted to get a cat. It was my first animal so I named her Penny and had a really cool name tag made for her using a shiny new 2012 copper penny. She was a cool little kitten with tiger print in her grey coat and fierce pointy tips of dark hair on her ears. She showed me she loved me by scratching my leg and pouncing around the house like she needed Adderall. I loved her and she left us too soon but I guess her little cat brain was just too small for this world.
In honor of Penny Gato, here's a look back at the first three of her nine lives:
The first life:
Blake and I had been dating for over a year and he wasn’t thrilled about me getting a cat. He told me he was allergic so anytime I invited him over, I vacuumed extra and tried my best to keep Penny away from him.
We’d sit on my couch to watch TV and I’d try to keep Penny in my lap, despite her digging claws. She wasn’t one of those cats that ran her nails down the edge of the sofa. She would look you directly in the eyes, lift both paws in the air, stretch her nails as far apart as she could, then slooooowly drag her claws down your leg. All without breaking eye contact. She was a bold dumb cat.
I chose to look at it as a game though. I’d try to catch her paw before it touched my leg, then we’d have a stare off to see who blinked first (kid you not). And when she blinked, I’d let go of her leg and she’d roll over and walk away.
It was a fun game we played. But it was our game. Not Blake’s game. So everyone was caught completely off guard when Penny snuck up to Blake, lifted her paw, stretched out her claws, and dug down Blake’s shin. But of course no one was as surprised as Penny, who due to Blake’s knee-jerk reaction, was punted clear across my room like a football. Like fifteen feet minimum…
The second life:
Whether Penny got into a stash of chocolate, drank a can of Red Bull, or missed the high of soaring through the air I don’t know, but sometime later, Penny flew again.
My fellow cat-loving dad and my realist mother kept telling me that this cat needed some time outdoors. She was certainly showing signs of cabin fever in my 1300 square-foot house, but I was afraid that if I let her out, she might never come back. The practical side of me tried to reason that if she didn’t come back she didn’t really love me. Or that natural selection would run its course and that would be ok.
Nonetheless I couldn’t cut the cord. That is until the night I got a hold of the new Justin Timberlake 20/20 experience CD.
I was blasting Mirrors on repeat late at night when Blake called me. I turned the music down to answer and apparently Penny was really feeling that song because seconds into the call she comes running into the room full speed at me! I jump up, she circles me like a barrel racer, runs toward my bed, veers slightly to the right, leaps up the wall, parkours off it onto the bed, springs off that and SLAMS DIRECTLY INTO THE OPPOSITE WALL. She missed the window by about 4 inches, but really it didn't matter because it was closed. And this cat didn’t land on her feet either. She laid on her side. Stunned for a split second. Stood up and slowly walked back into the hallway.
The third life:
After Penny Gato’s parkour mishap, it was obvious she needed some outdoor time. I threw her litter box away, sat her water dish under the doorbell and pushed her outside when I left for work.
When I got home in the evenings, I'd find her sitting patiently at the front door and I'd lovingly let her back in for the night. It was great. I didn't worry about her tearing up my house in the day and no more kitty litter, yay! But one day I came home and she wasn’t there.
I checked the door every hour but no Penny.
A day later, I get a call from an unknown number. At the time I wasn’t being hustled for free cruise vacations or vague opportunities to make “cold hard cash” if I just repeat my credit card number and mother’s maiden name after the beep, so I answered.
What I heard on the other end of the phone was a man’s soft voice asking if I was the owner of a very cute, cuddly, scared little kitty.
But I do have a dumb grey cat with a penny for a tag...
He lived four houses from mine so I walked down and rang the doorbell.
The door opened to a skinny, shortish man with two obese cats at his feet and my cat in his arms like she was his prized possession. While kneading that sweet spot between the ears, he asks who I am. Really?
“That’s my cat.”
“Oh this cat? How did this little cutie escape your house?” I think he’s talking to me but he can’t take his eyes off Penny. “She didn’t. I let her outside to explore and find a good place to bury her cat poo.”
“Well there’s a lot of dangers outside for a cute little kitty like this! She could get killed!” JUST GIVE ME MY CAT DUDE!
“I found her last night walking on the sidewalk and I just felt so bad for her I had to bring her inside. I fed her milk and she drank three whole bowls!”
At this point I asked for my cat back and took her home. Creep. But I didn’t take her inside. Because three bowls of milk in a small cat sounded like a diarrhear time bomb…
On to the fourth life.
To be continued…