The Cat Who Knew A Bargain When She Saw One

Tracey Maine

© Copyright 2000 by Tracey Maine

Stray cats certainly are excellent shoppers! Two years ago, I was enlightened to this fact once my husband and I crossed paths with a homeless feline who just so happened to be " on the market " for a new pair of owners. For several weeks I had noticed a certain cat roaming about our neighborhood. The cat had beautiful yellow eyes and, a thick coat of dark fur. Over a period of time, I observed as this clever kitty traveled from house to house, obviously window shopping for a new place of residence. Then came the fatal day when our home was next on the cat's list of prospects. Although my husband and I welcomed the kitty with open arms, I was soon to discover that, for this particular cat, not just any home would do.

I had always heard that cats can be as finicky about where they live, as they can be about what they eat. This assumption proved to be very true, as the cat began to conduct a series of two tests that ultimately, would determine whether our visitor would choose to adopt my husband and myself-or not!.

The female cat, who my husband dubbed " Natasha," immediately began with an unsupervised tour of the apartment. Obviously, she needed to see if the accommodations we had to offer were up to her clearly high standards.. With the precision of an inspector wearing a white glove, Natasha covered every inch of our home. If a door was closed, she demanded that she be allowed to go inside and examine the room behind -from top to bottom!

All the while, Natasha remained aloof. She apparently did not want to become too attached to my husband and me, in the event that we might not pass her inspection. Then, after an hour or so, Natasha honored us with a small display of affection. Clearly, we had passed the first test with flying colors.

The second test was an obedience course. Readily, the rules we were to follow became most apparent. Natasha would "meow" as if she were saying " Jump!" In turn, my husband and I were expected to respond to her every whim as if we were asking her " How High ?" When she would sit in front of the refrigerator and begin to cry, this meant that she wanted to be fed-NOW! If Natasha would sit at the base of a window which had the drapes closed and cry, translated, this conveyed her wish to have the curtains opened- RIGHT AWAY ! The final phase of this test came at bedtime. My husband took an old pillow and made Natasha a bed on the floor. Her reaction was to give us a chilling stare, and a "meow" that was clearly her way of saying, "GET REAL!" Then, Natasha jumped into our bed and staked a claim on a space right between me and my husband. Her stance gave us every indication that she would not tolerate being any further disturbances.

The following morning, Natasha acted as if she were having second thoughts about keeping my husband and I. After breakfast, she insisted that she be let back outside. Upon exiting our home, Natasha looked back as if to say: "Thanks, but I have a few more people to see- So don't call me, I'll call you." Then, she disappeared.

As I watched her wander into a yard across the back alley, I feared we might never see her again. Later, with heavy hearts, my husband and I left to visit friends in a neighboring town. But, on the way back we stopped to pick up some cat food- just in case Natasha should decide to return.

Several hours later, we returned home. The moment the cars engine stopped, I made a mad dash for the front porch. Filled with anticipation, I was overjoyed to see our furry friend perched at the top of the stairs. Upon noticing my arrival, Natasha immediately ran to my arms. The tone of her cries was rather harsh,as if Natasha were scolding us for being gone so long. Then, while resting on my shoulder, Natasha gazed up at my husband and me with a look that said: " Wrap them up, I'll take them.!" Ever since that moment, Natasha has become a cherished member of our little family.

Although Natasha was the one actually doing the shopping in this situation, ironically my husband and I were the one's who seemed to profit the most from her decision to adopt us. We gained a loyal companion who has brought nothing but joy and happiness into our home. Thus, in our opinion, Natasha is one priceless cat!

I'm a freelance writer/film critic/ starving artist/cat lover whose columns have appeared in many local papers and magazines. I'm also a happily married wife and part-time student majoring in Liberal Arts who spends her free time writing children's books and drafting a first novel.

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Another story by Tracey:
The Claiming of the Shrew

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