I'm not much of a cat-person. Felines have a certain way of acting that I don't have the patience for. I think a part of my attitude towards them stems from a somewhat heart-breaking experience I had with my first, and what proved to be my only cat.
I'd say that this happened when I was maybe eight, or nine years old. It was early spring and the snow from winter was still lying on the ground in patches of frozen drifts. The air was chilly and a light breeze whisked through the pine trees of the farm.
There I was trudging along by myself with a .22 rifle in the crook of my arm. I was bound and determined to hunt down some critters coming out of hibernation.
On a side note, whenever I tell this story, people automatically ask why an eight or nine-year-old was doing all alone with a rifle. I've come to realize that I grew up in a different part of the world. It was a world where parents had the good sense to teach their children at an early age what life and death was, and to teach them which end of the barrel the bullet comes out of.
As I skulked around with my eyes carefully scanning the underbrush of the grove, I heard a faint noise somewhere in the growth. It was high-pitched and had a distressed trait to it. Curiously, I stepped softly in the direction I thought I heard it come from. It got louder and louder, but would suddenly stop if I happened to brush up against a tree branch or snap a twig with my boots. I knew that whatever was hiding, did not want to be found. This only drove me to further investigate the sound.
Eventually, I had come close enough for the mysterious calls to be very loud, as if it were only inches away. That's when I saw her. Bless my soul, it was the most adorable kitten I'd ever seen in my entire life. It was nestled under the cover of a pine tree in a furry little ball. Its ears were tucked against its skull from the cold. Shivers rippled through its entire body like waves crashing on the shore of a lake. It starred up at me with those big, shiny, amber eyes with a pouty-like appearance.
The more the poor little creature meowed, the more I could feel my heart strings being pulled. I then slowly reached down and the frightened little kitty swatted my hand with its paw. I immediately retracted feeling the sudden sting from the claws. I was about to leave it be and get on with my life, but I looked into its eyes again.
I couldn't let it be. I knew that I had the means to give this sad little thing a chance at a better life. I quickly snagged it from under the tree and took it into my arms. It furiously clawed at the fabric of my coat as I walked it back to the house, but it did not deter me.
I immediately showed my mother what I'd found and she was sympathetic towards my plight, so as long as my father was okay with it. And as it turned out, he was. He even went on to say that he'd never seen a cat that looked like that before, he said it was "unique."
Indeed it was. It had dark orange fur with hundreds of patches of an even darker shade. It had a short tail with dark rings around it like a raccoon. The paws on this kitten where huge compared to the rest of its body, but they only made it all the more adorable, even if they liked to scratch.
In time, the little hair ball took to liking the warm comforts of the house and took on a more calm existence with me. Soon enough, it started to sleep next to me on the bed. It was a very affectionate little thing. It did however like to bite sometimes, but I knew it was only playing.
I ended up calling her Snowy, after where I'd found her and from the little white patch of fur she had around the mouth. Snowy and I became very close. She would follow me around where ever I went, in the house, the grove, and in the barn.
The barn was her favorite place. She liked to climb up the walls and onto the rafters where she would walk across the beams with a balance that can only be mimicked by a circus performer. As she got older, she began to do more show more talents. There was once a time up in the hay loft when she did something that took my breath away.
She had herself perched high in the building and she remained absolutely motionless. That was until a pigeon flew through one of the broken windows. I kid you not when I say this. Snowy leapt from the ceiling, caught the bird in her mouth, and landed perfectly on her feet.
Indeed I had the best cat in the world. At least I did until that one fateful day at the veterinarian’s office. Snowy had been with us long enough for my dad to be convinced that she was not going to run away. So, it was only fitting that we would get her the shots she needed.
As soon as we walked into the clinic, the vet literally jumped back upon seeing the now large ball of fluff in my arms, "Where on earth did you get that!" he exclaimed.
I proudly said, "I found her in the grove one day."
He shook his head, "No! No! No! You're not allowed to have one of those!"
My dad and I exchanged confused looks with each other before he asked, "What do you mean?"
The vet cradled his head in his hands, "Don't you even know what that is?"
"It's my cat." I said honestly.
"No, that's a Bobcat!"
Snowy was handed over to the Department of Natural Resources by the vet and I never saw her again.