Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There's no taming the wild side

My wife, three youngest daughters, and I recently moved into a new house so that my wife's commute to her new job wouldn't be so long and difficult. As always is the case, the moving process was back-breaking, exhausting, and tedious. And of course, there's still a long way to go before everything is in place, if that is ever truly possible.

Though we are dog and cat lovers, we currently own just one pet: a beautiful black male cat named Woody. (He came to us out of the woods, already neutered by whoever had owned him previously, and adopted our family without any say-so from us.)

Woody is large, powerful, and highly intelligent. He's also loving to our kids, even the youngest. His only flaw is that he's the type of cat that loves to kill anything smaller than a raccoon, and he often brings his presents through the cat door and into the house so that he can show them off to us. Often they are still alive. This past New Year's Eve, as the countdown to midnight began, my wife and I were chasing a mouse around the living room.

Cats that spend much of their time outdoors are territorial, and when you move to a new location you're supposed to keep the cat indoors for at least two weeks and preferably a month or longer. With Woody, that turned out to be impossible. For 72 consecutive hours he paced, whined, meowed, crashed into things, kept us up all night, and basically made the entire family miserable. Finally I was forced to put in a new cat door and set him free far sooner than was wise. We didn't know if he would run off and be lost to us forever ... or return to the family that had grown to love him so much.

As it turned out he returned, and has since been in and out his new cat door several dozen times without incident. His fierce intelligence and wild desire to explore the unknown, which for a time had turned him into a raving maniac, ended up working in his favor. He simply was too smart to get lost.

Writers also have a wild side. If you lock us away from the keyboard, we do everything that Woody did -- except meow.

Some of us might even do that.

-- Jim


kj said...

While I was in the US for 2 months ending in mid-February, our cat decided to leave home and hearth. Now nearly 3 months on, he still has not found his way back. I'm hopeful that he has 'come out of the bush' and into the heart of a family here.

Jim Melvin said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure you loved your cat. In situations like these, positive thoughts help as much as anything. Cats are survivors. The odds are strong he or she is doing well somewhere.


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About Me

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Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.