A few days ago, a commenter asked me about the status of my transient cat, who joined me in Juneau about a month after I moved here. I just wanted to report that the cat who hates to travel (and I mean really hates to travel), and who has lived with me in four different houses across a span of states more than 3,000 miles apart, appears to be happy at home.
It’s kind of a funny story how I ended up with this cat. I’m not a typical pet owner and never really set out to become one. I was living in a little studio apartment by myself in a quiet little town called Tooele, Utah. Geoff and I had spent the day mountain biking in the Stansbury Mountains, and we were unloading a slew of bike gear when this little cream-colored furball streaked into the kitchen through the open door. She had a dirt patch on her face and looked so small and frail that I felt compelled to rifle through my cupboard until I found a can of tuna.
“Don’t feed it if you don’t want a cat,” Geoff said.
“It’ll just be this one can,” I reasoned, and popped it open.
“Congratulations, you now have a cat,” he said.
I just laughed. She polished off the tuna and disappeared out the door. I thought I’d never see her again.
That is, until I found her waiting patiently on my porch when I came home from work the next day. I gave her an old can of pink salmon and shut the door behind her. She ate the entire can of greasy fish and left again.
But then she kept staking out my porch every day around 5 p.m. She’d sprint toward my car as I rolled into the driveway, meow loudly and trot behind me as a walked into the house. After I ran out of cans of meat, I began to give her bites of my dinner - macaroni and cheese, chicken, cherrios, goldfish crackers - there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t eat. Soon I found myself purchasing a little box of cat food at the store, and then a big bag of cat food, and then tuna treats, and then a litter box and cat bed - and before I even realized it, I had a cat.
For the longest time I called her “Kitty,” and sometimes “Sadie,” which is the name of my parents’ cat. So when it finally came time to admit that I had adopted her, several months after we first met, I finally gave her a name - “Cady.”
I nearly lost her when I moved from Tooele to Idaho Falls. She still spent most of her nights outside, sometimes disappearing for days at a time. I couldn’t find her when I made my final move, so I drove away from my empty apartment, convinced I’d never see her again.
I was so depressed about it that about a week later, my parents drove more than an hour one way just to look for her. It was probably a small miracle - but didn’t seem to be at the time - that they found her parked right in front of my house as if I had never abandoned her.
My parents have said that she’s the one who adopted me, and she must have not realized what she was getting herself into. Every time I move, she has to endure a painful transition of being stuffed in a cat carrier and carted across epic distances, refusing to eat or drink for an entire day and crying the entire time (and I mean the entire time). But every time we arrive in a new place, she acts as if she’s never been happier. I think she’s a lot like me.
It’s hard for me to predict how many more times Cady and I will move away, how many more new cat enemies she we make and how many more vole populations she will eradicate. But I do believe this - that if she could go back to that summer evening in Tooele, with the sickly sweet stench of apricots rotting in the hot August air and strange creatures hoisting scary metal contraptions into a dark cave of an apartment - that she’d still pick me.