The First Scare

It was barely a month since my two cats had died and while I’d stopped crying at the drop of the hat, I had no desire to have another pet any time soon. Ever. For years.

I received a text message from a close friend of mine who knew what had happened and was curious if I’d like a kitten. Her former mother in law had one that needed a good home you see. I told her no. I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair to the kitten, I reasoned. It wouldn’t be fair to me. I would look at that tiny little creature and be unable to provide to it the same amount of love I’d given to Calvin and Claudia. It was all used up. Tapped out. There was no more. My cup was empty. She understood.

Shortly after that I received a text message from the FMIL. It was a picture of a tiny buff colored kitten. The text included with the photo let me know that her name was Buffy and she was a very sweet and affectionate kitten who needed a home and if I wasn’t interested in taking her, she’d be going to PAWS to find a family.

A kitten named Buffy. BUFFY. B-U-F-F-Y. A name that I would never in a million years name a pet of mine. A name that resonates within me. Buffy. Had her name been Bashful or Susie or Allison or Scruffy McCatFace, I could have totally walked away from the entire situation with a hearty and resounding “no thank you”. But the universe apparently had other plans and instead placed in my lap a kitten whom it knew I couldn’t refuse outright. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to just go MEET the kitten. What harm could come of that?

I met Buffy on a Thursday. She was in a very warm and loving home already with a few other cats but when I came in, she was petrified. She was timid and scared wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She hid under a dresser. I sat down next to the dresser and tried to let her sniff me and touch her. She wanted nothing to do with that. They pulled her out and gave her to me and I pet her for a few minutes and she lost herself in the attention until she remembered that I was a scary stranger and then she bolted out of my hands and down a hallway.

A few minutes later she returned and then ran back down the hallway. The second time she came she went back under the dresser she was hiding under which I was still sitting in front of. I took this to be a pretty decent sign so I agreed to take her. She would be dropped off in two days time to me.

When she arrived she was equally as shy and petrified. I had set up to give her complete access to the house and seeing how she reacted (hiding under the couch and refusing to come out) I decided that perhaps my rooms (servant’s quarters) would be a better place for her to get acclimated. She hid under my bed for a day and a half, allowing me to coax her out for short amounts of time. I worried that I’d done the wrong thing in taking her. Was she going to get comfortable? Was she going to stay under my bed and be antisocial for the rest of her life?

Now, she is my shadow. I can not leave a room without her trailing behind (or in front of) me. She will come when I call her name. She runs through the house with reckless abandon. I am completely smitten with that rambunctious little tornado with claws and would die if anything were to happen to her.

Flash forward to this past Tuesday. I was out of the house and got home around 10:30, my arms laden with a casserole dish and several bags from the grocery store. I came inside, put my stuff down and wandered in to talk to Scott. We chatted for a few minutes and I noticed two very weird things. I wasn’t greeted by Buffy and it was far, far too quiet.

I didn’t panic at first because Buffy is afraid of air. If she hears a noise she runs to hide behind me or under something. I figured since I made a lot of noise coming into the house she was hiding somewhere. I began to panic a bit after ransacking the place and coming up completely empty. Had she gotten outside in the thirty seconds it’d taken me to get into the house?

I wandered around in the front yard calling her name and shaking some treats. I was greeted with silence. A second ransacking occurred and when she didn’t turn up that time my panic ratcheted a bit. I went back outside and began to call her name louder.

It was only when I walked around to the other side of the house that I discovered her, under the table on the patio, hunched down with a petrified look in her eyes. I walked up to her and she bolted from me, hiding under the steps of the hot tub.

I walked over to her and was able to talk her out from under the steps and scoop her up. As we made our way back around the house to go into the kitchen she heard or saw something that startled her and she attempted to scramble out of my arms. (Un?)Fortunately my face was in the way and I am now the proud owner of three large, ugly cat scratches. I knew instantly that they would bleed because of the way they stung. I got a firmer grip on her and we went back into the house. I put her down and she instantly started twisting around our legs and playing as though she hadn’t just experienced the greatest fright of my entire life.

I went upstairs (followed by my trusty shadow) and I cleaned up my bloody face and then sat on my bed and sobbed. It was an ugly cry complete with snot and tears the size of golf balls. I forgot what this type of fear is like. It’s awful.

I knew she was alright and I knew that I was alright and I knew that everything was going to be ok. But what if it hadn’t? I was lucky this time.

Today my scratches are still bright red and scabby and probably will be for a few more days, but Buffy is no worse for her foray into the big cold world.

And for that I’m thankful.

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