The Flying Tabby

26 Aug

How I became a cat man: Short version

Here, you need a cat…

Those five words followed by a flying kitten made me a Cat Man. The kitten, a tabby with ginger accents, was born in a box. That box sat in the corner of a room I rented in New Zealand.

Before the flying tabby, allergies made me shy away from cats. I’d spent too many restless nights with itchy eyes, and a runny nose while visiting friends. So when I moved into my room in New Zealand, I requested to have the kittens relocated to a shed out back. Nowhere in my plans did it call for bonding with a kitten. At the time, I was mourning from the loss of my dog and searching for a teaching job. As a transient in a new country I couldn’t possibly care for a cat.  But alas, I had no choice in the matter.

“Here, you need a cat,” said my New Zealand friend as I pulled away in my van.

With her feet spread wide, my first cat glided through the open window and landed on the worn passenger seat. She straightened her hind legs and cleaned herself as though she were home. There was nothing to do but cure my allergies by rubbing her on my face. We spent our first week together road tripping through the countryside; I sneezed, wheezed and smiled at my little fur ball on the dashboard.

I named her Baetis, after a family of insects important to us fly-fisher folks. I remember thinking if I had taken in a new dog, I’d have felt like a traitor. I thought, “It’s fine because Baetis is just a cat.”

Eight years later, I know she’s not just a cat. She’s the cat from Down Under, the cool cat that follows her yellow Lab brother and I for walks. As she weaves in and out of parked cars, and manicured gardens here in Portland, Oregon, I wonder if she remembers our garden and the tunnels I dug for her in New Zealand. I wonder if she remembers the special kitten she birthed–the kitten that taught me an important lesson. Does she know that she’s on her sixth life after being hit by a truck? And what about the cozy fires and head rubs in our white house in the Middle of Nowhere, New Zealand? Does she remember?


Video 4 from Memoir   

Click Here for more pictures of Baetis and the long version of how I became a Cat Man.


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