суббота, 11 декабря 2010 г.

The Bandit Who Stole Our Hearts

Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Cat

BY: Donna Lowich

A meow massages the heart.
~Stuart McMillan

Moving Day began hot, blisteringly hot, but nothing was going to keep us from our new home. Many boxes were stacked in the garage, along with some rolled-up area carpets. As we took turns bringing the boxes into the house, Jeffrey came running in, breathless and overjoyed. "Guess what, Mommy? Guess what? We have a cat in our garage! Come look! Quick!"

Sure enough, there was a large black cat, with white on all four paws, and the tiniest of white spots on the tip of his nose, roaming through the garage. He was definitely inspecting our belongings, jumping from one stack of boxes to the next, and walking along the rolled-up carpets as a gymnast on a balance beam would do. He stopped to check out all the open boxes, and having been satisfied with his preliminary look-see, decided he would go inside and make sure things were satisfactory there, too.

He sat near the door that led into the family room, turned his head and looked at us, with every expectation that we would let him in. He waited patiently while we figured that out. Which we did, eventually. It wouldn't be the last time that we would do this large cat's will.

Bandit, we found out from our new neighbors, was this cat's name. He was a well-known character, known up and down the street as a real schmoozer, always on hand to take that last bit of cat food (or people food, for that matter) off your hands.

At a neighborhood Christmas party we found no fewer than four families who admitted that they succumbed to Bandit's wiles, and were feeding him on a regular basis. But, as far as we could tell, it was our house he preferred to shelter him from inclement weather.

He was a street-smart cat who never lost his ability to love a little boy. Despite the not-always-so gentleness of a three-year-old, Bandit never got angry or upset. I never saw him hiss or even bare a claw despite being put into baskets, lullabied to sleep and cradled lovingly, but sometimes uncomfortably, in a little boy's arms, a little boy whose normally gentle ways with animals were sometimes lost in his exuberance to play with his brand-new friend. Bandit somehow knew this, and was content to be placed in a shirt-sized gift box one Christmas Day, which was then moved from place to place, until the proper spot was found for the lullabies and loving pats on the head to begin, which continued until Bandit fell asleep.

I didn't know much about cats back then, but I knew that this was a rare blend of outside-cat toughness and inside-cat gentleness. He was a true gentle giant of a cat.

Jeffrey and Bandit grew up together and became fast friends. In fact, whenever there was a storm coming, we could rely on the fact that Bandit would spend it with us, sometimes allowing us to keep him indoors overnight during hurricanes and snowstorms. It seemed as though he took comfort from being with us -- Jeffrey, in particular.

Jeffrey, in return, seemed to always enjoy Bandit's company. He grew to be both confident and gentle with animals, especially cats. This was the direct result of his close friendship with his pal, Bandit.

Bandit is gone now, and is sorely missed. He had lived a long life, but it wasn't long enough to suit us. I think he knew how much he meant to us. But I wonder if he could ever know how much he influenced a small boy. From the moment they met, Jeffrey loved cats. Bandit, through his own good nature and gentle treatment of a little boy, taught our son to be kind and gentle with animals.

Thank you, Bandit.


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