Burmese can open most things including doors unless they’re securely locked, but I think a couple of our cats were secretly working on key mechanisms. That’s an aside. We didn’t open number one daughter’s door because none of us really wanted to see the chaos inside, but for health reasons we’d come to an agreement. Once a week she would clean up and take her sheets and dirty clothes to the laundry room. I would then wash her things and hang them out in the sunshine. My hero would bring everything in, fold, and iron. Ironing got him points that he wasn’t willing to give up, and trust me, by the time our daughters were teenagers, he needed husbandly points.
So, because number one didn’t participate in our family life, she didn’t know that our newest lilac Burmese had disappeared. We’d had a lot of problems with our cats wandering. They’re great adventurers. My favourite cream Burmese had once been trapped on a neighbour’s roof for days, and that particular cat had a car fetish. She insisted on doing the shopping with me because she loved being seen in my car. She looked good in red.
That’s another aside. Back to the main event. When the newest cat didn’t come home, my husband went on a search of the neighbourhood, but the cat hadn’t been seen. After three days, we had Gemini on the missing, presumed dead list. On day four I was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea, and I saw what looked like a stunned cat staggering down the hall to the back door. He walked with a dragging limp, and his fur was filthy. I went into freeze mode, shocked. I didn’t know where he had appeared from and I didn’t know where he had been.
He clearly wanted water and so I filled a bowl and stood watching. He could barely stand and didn’t seem able to lap. By this time tears were streaming out of my eyes. I gathered him up carefully and took him to the vet. He had a broken jaw and a broken leg. He had to suffer the jaw but he had his leg pinned. A few weeks later he took out the pin with his sutures, sigh, but he recovered perfectly anyway. He’d been hit by a car and had come home to recover. However, I didn’t know which day he had come back and I didn’t know where he had been until then.
Meanwhile, I noticed that number one daughter’s clothes, recently dumped in the laundry room, looked too familiar though I had rarely seen her during the past week. I’d only noticed the signs of her presence, slammed doors and treats missing from the fridge. With dawning suspicion, I went into her bedroom. No, I’m not brave. I knew she’d gone out. The few clothes she kept in her wardrobe were dirty and lying crumpled in the bottom. Apparently she’d been letting us recycle the same clean unworn clothes again and again, this being the epitome of teenage efficiency. By missing the middle step, that is, wearing the clean clothes, she saved time and could sleep longer.
Her bed was a crumpled mess and clearly hadn’t been made since the last time I’d changed her sheets. In a flurry of annoyance, I stripped the bed and found a mass of blood and hair. At first I felt a thump of fear, thinking she’d been injured but the hair was cat hair. This led me to realise that Gemini had chosen a teenager’s bed to die in or recover from his injuries. Number one daughter had slept with the poor little creature for three days without noticing she had a sick cat in her bed.
Teenagers. Because she didn’t socialise with us, she hadn’t heard he was missing. She assumed that he opened her door to sleep with her each night because he liked her. In the fullness of time, the story is funny, and illustrates teenage behaviour perfectly.
Perhaps the cat was fortunate he chose her bed as the proper place to die, because she didn’t disturb him until he recovered enough to get help. In my Pollyanna moments, that’s what I think. Normally, though, I can illustrate what I think by raking my hair on end and shrieking.