A few months ago was a sad time for my wife and I, we had to put down our dearest friend, our cat Shadowfax (Shadow for short). He had been a part of us for 18 years. He wasn't a pedigreed or pure bred - just a common "silver tab", shorthair but with a magnificent bushy tail. Would spend 5 minutes grooming his body, but spend all afternoon getting that tail just right!
Life goes on, as they say, and the four of us (wife, two other cats and I) went about trying not to miss Shadow so much. Difficult at first, but I guess time does heal all wounds. A couple of weeks go by, and we noticed a stray hanging around, a small female, barely out of "kitten-hood", a short hair silver tab, very pregnant and very, very "skittish" about being touched.
We set about to make friends with her - setting out food and water and sitting quietly nearby so she would get used to us. Then she disappeared, it was her time. Didn't see her for many weeks. Then one day, she and her kittens reappeared along with the tom - another short hair silver tab. She had 4 kittens: 2 silver tab (one pale, other dark), 1 silver with white socks, and a jet black with white socks. When I first saw them, they were in the back yard - mom and tom laying about keeping a eye on the youngsters - the socks twins were having a knock-down contest - and the two silvers were curled up on top of Shadow's grave.
Well clearly, my wife and I had a job to do - find homes for the kittens, capture mom and tom, take to vet and get them "fixed", then see if they would like to live with us. Wasn't easy - none of them would let anybody get close, far less touch. So we started setting out food again and the process of getting them used to us. That's when we noticed that the two silver kittens had short hair but bushy tails! Just like Shadow! Mom and tom don't. But wait, there's more.
Well the plan to capture all didn't quite work. Tom disappeared, mom liked the neighbor's place better and took to hanging there. But the four kittens kept coming over to our place. At least initially all four did, the socks pair decided to stay with mom after a while, leaving just the silver pair with us.
We kept up the process of feed and contact, making a little more progress each day toward actually petting one. Finally, one day, contact! Actually stroked the lighter in color silver's back. He arched into it, purred, then came to his senses and took off like the proverbial silver streak.
A few days go by. One afternoon as I setting food out, Stormy (one of our two inside cats, a long hair silver) made a break for the door - he does that a lot. Likes to see me scramble, I guess. Well, out he goes, spots a kitten and they touch noses. Stormy decided that the middle of August here in South is no time to go independent - its hot! So back in he heads - kitten right behind him! It was the pale silver one - now named Silver. He is a feisty one! But we felt bad about leaving his brother outside to fend for himself and re-doubled our efforts to catch him. But we can't get near him - any closer than 3 feet and ZOOM! away he goes.
A few days ago my wife went to run some errands in the early afternoon. I work nights so I was asleep. When she returned, there was "Stripe" sitting on the porch. When she opened the door, in he came. It was pretty cool to wake up to ... a purr box by my ear!
But here's the odd part of this story: Stripe has all the mannerisms that Shadow had: sleeps curled up on my neck when I'm asleep, same quick shower to the body but forever on the tail, and more. Plus this: Stripe's markings are identical to Shadow's, and I do mean identical. Pulled out pictures of Shadow when he was that age - perfect match. In all my years of having cats about I've never seen this before. I mean of course they are going to look alike, they're common silver tabs, but the detailed matchup is most strange, usually you can spot some difference: the "M" on this one's a little different from that one's, this one's stripes are less distinct, that one has a bit more tan on the belly, etc. etc.
Reincarnation? I don't know. I do know this: The lace curtains in the living room are once again in danger and that is ok. The place has to be kitten-proofed and that is okay. All the other "negatives" of having two more bringing the total to four - doesn't matter. We've got our friend back - and that does matter.
Copyright © David Keever
September 22, 1998
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