May 2, 2011

On April 9, 2011, I walked across the street to visit a garage sale, not really expecting anything. The homeowner, a very elderly woman, had recently passed away. She had lived alone, and her family was selling her belongings and preparing to sell the house.

When I go to a garage sale, the first thing I look for is books, which I rarely find, and everything else is usually not interesting to me. I only went to this one because it was so close and I had some time. After looking at a box full of VHS tapes and testing an old audio tape player, I was all set to buy the tape player and a set of TV dinner trays when one of the family members casually said, "Oh, and we're also giving away a cat."

Sure enough, off to the side, in the shade, was a large black cat resting peacefully in a cage with a bowl of water. I have friends with cats, and I adore them (both the friends and the cats), but had never owned one myself. I had a vague notion that I would own a pet some day in the distant future, but that I would plan for it and arrange my budget ahead of time, and it would also probably be a dog, so I wasn't interested. At first.

They said the cat was sweet and very docile, and she certainly seemed to be. She liked me right away. She had had her shots; she was spayed; she was an indoor cat; she had all of her claws. Litter boxes, toys, catnip, a cat bed, and a supply of food and litter came with her, all for free. If no one took her, they were probably going to take her to the animal shelter. I began humming and hawing, trying to ignore the thoughts which were beginning to take shape. I asked her name. When they said, "Angel," my shoulders slumped and I said, "Oh, Lord."

I walked back home to think about it, trying to make sure I wasn't about to do something stupid, but really, I was already sold. Five minutes later I was back to announce, "I have a new cat."

Angel is 8 years old, and the only home she ever had was with the elderly woman, in that house. She's big, somewhat fat, with rich, soft fur. Her purr is so silent it's almost inaudible. Every morning about an hour after dawn, she wakes me up and demands to be petted; the fact that I am not a morning person is irrelevant.

Her coat is just a tiny shade off of black, a very deep charcoal gray, with a second coat of white underneath. Her fur constantly shifts in cascading black and white as she moves, and it's fascinating to see.

She's reluctant to climb into my lap, and she doesn't like to be held. The first time we met, I picked her up out of her cage and held her, and she was fine. Every attempt to pick her up since then has been met with fierce resistance and hissing.

After living with me for several days and finally getting comfortable in my house, she was lying on my bed when she first witnessed me open my bedroom closet. Her eyes grew wide and she shot off the bed like a rocket straight for the closet, as if to say, "Unclaimed territory! Why didn't you tell me this hidden room existed?" She tackled that closet with a vengeance and within 30 seconds had claimed everything in it as hers.

The hall closet has bi-fold pull-open doors. The right door is broken at the top and has to be wedged against the left door or it will swing open freely, blocking the hallway. Angel has discovered this. She has learned to push against the right door, causing it to lose its connection with the left door and swing open at her command. This is a source of endless delight. I close the door; she opens it and admires her handiwork. I close the door; she opens it and admires her handiwork. I get up in the middle of the night and there's the closet door, blocking the hallway. I have moved the closet door to the top of the home repairs list.

She has several favorite places: On my bed; beneath my bed; the bottom of the armoir (a lovely hiding place which she can access from the back); and a chair by the back door. She's grown to trust me, but she's still very jumpy. When something loud or unexpected happens, she scrambles for safety, her clawed paws running madly in place on my hardwood floor, trying to move that bulk and going nowhere.

But enough. Click on the pictures. The one at the top of the page will enlarge, also.

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