“Give him a good home,” my friend Scott said. “He’s a great cat. I wish I could keep him.”
We’d been sitting in Scott’s kitchen, holding a get-to-know-you visit before my cat and I went home.
“My cat." It had a nice ring to it.
It was the most handsome cat I’d ever seen, a dark brown and tan Siamese with startling blue eyes that seemed to radiate intelligence. In my mind I’d created a vision of domestic tranquility, the catly equivalent of a fireplace and an Irish setter.
“We should be going,” I said. “I’ll carry him to the car.”
But the cat wasn’t as enthused as I was, and when I tried to pick him up he laid his ears back, flashed his claws and hissed like the sound of air leaving a balloon.
We extended our get-to-know-you visit by 15 minutes. It ended with the same result.
“If you put him in the car,” I said, “I’ll get him out when I get home.”
Scott seemed wary: “Are you sure?”
I wasn’t. “No problem,” I said.
The cat seemed to enjoy the ride, but as soon as the car stopped, he lay defensively on the floor, bared his teeth and made a sound like something Stephen King would have written. I eventually got him into the house, thanks to a pair of elbow-length snowmobile gloves. Effective, but oddly out of place in the 90-degree heat.
I set the cat in the middle of the living room floor and he raced to the kitchen and shimmied into the narrow space behind the stove. Not even a bowl of creamed liver would coax him out, and he was still in hiding when I went to bed.
But sometime in the middle of the night I sensed movement in the house, followed by a soft thud on the edge of the bed, then the feel of 12 pounds of cat walking over me to sit in the open window.
I smiled in the dark. My cat.
The sound came without warning, an unearthly cross between a growl and a shriek. The cat leapt off the windowsill, and 18 needle-sharp claws dug into my chest.
One of us made an undignified falsetto screech.
I jumped out of bed as the cat flew around the room, then vanished.
I spent the rest of the night with one eye open, and came warily out of the bedroom at first light. The cat was sitting in the middle of the living room, licking a front paw then rubbing it over one ear. He looked up at me and gave an unmistakable wink.
From that moment on, we were best of friends. We just had to decide who was boss.
I think it’s time to get the boss another bowl of creamed liver.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.