Open Forum: Love at first sight

Posted: October 31, 2012

It was love at first sight for me on that cool Halloween morning.

I stepped outdoors to get the morning paper and heard a faint meowing sound come from under a bush beside our front-porch steps. I gently shifted the bottom limb of the shrub to one side and my heart was filled with awe at the sight of this palm-sized yellow ball of fun with blue eyes the color of a clear noon sky.

We stared at each other, and I could see a fiery spirit with a firm warning for me to stay back. He hissed twice, backed up, and spat. He was abandoned, hungry, and scared.

His fur stood straight up on end and gave the tiny kitten the comical appearance of a miniature lion king in a huge jungle. It was fight or flight.

I slowly backed away, not wanting to scare him, and within minutes returned with a saucer of warm milk. He was hesitant at first, then hunger won out and he came closer. He drank the milk, then turned and dashed under the shrub for protection.

It took most of the morning to win him over. I was determined not to give up. Using soft talks, food, and encouragement, he accepted my extended hand in friendship and came to me by noon.

I picked him up and held him at eye level and knew that this was the best Halloween treat ever. I kissed the top of his head and fell in love with a tiny monster dressed in a kitten costume.

It didn’t take The Morris long to become a member of the Petrie clan as he worked his charm on the family. Well, most of them. There were many occasions that sibling rivalry erupted between our daughter and this tiny boss. On my return home from the night shift at a local hospital, our daughter would try to talk to me in the mornings and Morris would continue to interrupt with insistent meowing that it was time for us to go and get some sleep.

He didn’t meow in words; this little guy meowed in sentences. On and on the banter went with our daughter and the cat.

Nothing was beneath Morris, and he would suddenly sneak up on her when she least expected it and his front legs would wrap around an ankle. Her scream could be heard throughout the house.

Every person in the household became a worthy victim for his sneaking tricks. Though his name was Morris, under times of attack I occasionally heard him called “Damn It Morris!”

As he grew in wisdom and strength, he became the bully and the boss of the neighborhood. No animal was safe from this young lion. He was a fearless and mighty hunter, and we were astonished at his hunting skills, that he could bring down prey larger than himself.

The presents left at our back door became clear that Morris was going to be in a permanent Time Out. We made the decision that he would stay indoors to save the area animals, and this would protect and keep him safe, too. No pet is safe when left outside where predators lie in wait.

The indoor years with him were wonderful, and he was my “little man” with an unbreakable bond of love that lasted for many years. Morris was never just a cat, but wasmy best friend.

On Aug. 16, we sat together on a table at the veterinarian’s office. We looked out the window and the leaves blew softly, and I rocked him gently back and forth in my arms.

Sickness had hit him quickly and now his eyes were closing in a restful sleep. I told him again how much that I loved him, and he was the most wonderful cat a person could ever own.

The truth was that he owned me. I kissed the top of his head as I did when I first held him in my arms. I told him that on a cold Halloween day 15 years ago that the moment I first saw him, that I knew it was love at first sight.

I think he knew it, too. I miss you so much, little trickster.

Linda H. Petrie is a resident of Stephens City.