Marlene Barth

© Copyright 2002 by Marlene Barth

Photo of Oreo.

When I lived in Tampa, Fla., I was a pet-sitter for several years.  I finally
had my own business and named it PURR-fect Care.  I took care of all
types of pets and I love all animals, but one of the cats that I cared for has a
special place in my heart.  This is a story about Oreo.  A beautiful black and
white male cat with long legs, a big mouth and as I later found out a very
big, lovable heart.

I was working for another sitter when I first met Oreo.  He lived with his
human mother, two human sisters that raised rats, mice, and snakes.  The
snakes were in each of their bedrooms in aquariums, and the rodents lived in
their respective houses in the garage.  I was warned that Oreo was a monster
cat that would bite you upon arrival if he felt like it.  He was protector of
the household and tolerated no nonsense.  He lived with two other cats and
protected them also.  He also protected his food and water and two cat boxes.
 It was suggested that I carry a spray bottle, and his human mother said that
she would leave one by the front door.  They would be away for four days and
I was to visit one time each day.

I was very nervous anticipating my first visit.  I decided that I would first
"think" myself into Oreo's home.  The night before my first visit, I mentally
talked to Oreo.  I told him that he did not know me, but I was coming the
next morning to feed him and his companions and to change their litter boxes.
 I was doing this because I wanted him and them to be comfortable and happy.
I knew I would like him and I hoped he would like me too.  The next morning I
"mentally" talked to him again and told him I was coming to meet him.

I picked up the spray bottle on my way in and was cautious when I entered the
house to make sure I would not be bitten, and there was an alarm to contend
with also.

I entered the house, turned off the alarm and was not attacked.  I spoke to
Oreo as I walked through the house telling him I was here now, and I was
going to make sure he had food, water etc.  One very old cat was laying by
the dining room baseboard.  Another was walking towards me.  It was a brown
tabby, so I knew it wasn't Oreo.  I pet both kitties - then I heard him.  I
heard Oreo.  Low, but loud gutteral sounds came from his throat as he came
around the doorway from the kitchen.  I told him that I was not afraid of
him, but he had to show me where his food was.  Usually I meet the cats and
see the layout of the house before I come on the first visit, but they had an
emergency and this could not be done.  I had read my notes and could tell
approximately where I was headed, but I again told Oreo that he must help me.
 He followed me all through the kitchen, and I was careful not to make any
sudden moves that might scare him.  He constantly growled and stalked me as I
moved.  I found the dry food and filled the bowls with his eyes on my every
movement.  I was sure he would lunge any moment, but he stayed his distance
still growling.  The water bowls were filled with fresh water, but I still
carried the squirt bottle in my hand just in case.  Changing the litter pans
were more difficult because they were in an enclosed area and I couldn't move
without stepping on Oreo's feet.  I talked to him every moment, telling him
what I was doing and why.  I finally finished my chores and continued to back
away from Oreo until I came to the front door.  I told him I would see him
again tomorrow.

Each day I came I spoke to him mentally before I opened the front door and
each visit was a little easier.  Fortunately, I was never bitten by Oreo, but
I was glad the visits were over.

A year passed, I now had my own business and who would book me again, but
Oreo's human Mom.  She said she had remarried, and that they had moved.
Would I please come over and get the new key to the house and sit for Oreo
and the one kitty that remained with him.  The old kitty by the baseboard had
died.  I still had the snakes, mice and rats to feed.

I went by and got the key and said "hello" to Oreo.  He was very pleasant and
seemed to remember me.   No growling with his Mom present I guessed.

The most rewarding point of this story was that Oreo and I became good
friends.  He would now greet me in the kitchen.  He would jump onto the
kitchen counter each time I arrived and we would rub our heads together, I
would pet him as much as I felt he would allow and then I would give him a
treat.  He helped me change the food, water and kitty box, purring as he
followed.  Before I left, I would sit down on the floor with him, talking and
giving him a few pats.

The last time I saw Oreo, he was ill.  He had cancer in his leg from a
leukemia shot and was a more subdued little boy.   His human mother would not
have his leg removed.  He still rubbed heads with me, but watched me give him
fresh food and water and change his box.  I still sat with him on the floor
and on my last visit, I cried and told him how much I loved him.  I told him
I was moving and would probably not see him again, but to please remember me
as a human person that loved him like a human person and I would never forget

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