The guy was seated in a folding chair at the Safeway entrance with a cardboard box on his lap. The box held four very cute, very little kittens. It was a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting and probably illegal. Three of the kittens were all black and one was mostly black with a few handsome white markings. We lingered over them for a bit. They were 7 weeks old, very cute and very small, all cuddled together. The man told us that the kitten’s mom and dad were barn cats. The kittens did not have their shots.
Since we were on our way IN to the store, we made a decision while in the produce section: We would take the cute one with the white markings on the way out. The kids will love that kitten. Should we name it Spot? Boots? Patches? When leaving the store, we stopped to visit the man with the kittens again but someone had adopted the one kitten we wanted while we were in the store. The three remaining kittens were all black and looked like an illustration from a children’s book, not a Norman Rockwell. We took all three home. That was 16 years ago.
The kittens got their shots and true to their heritage, they happily settled into the barn with plenty of food, water and comfort. Soon, one of the kittens was given away to a very cute little girl and then there were two. A while later, tragedy struck when a car hit one of the other kittens, then there was one — Scout.
Scout was a survivor. He lived in the barn for 16 years. Since there was a cat door cut in the barn for him, much to our dismay, Scout was often joined for dinner by raccoons, opossums, skunks and other critters. He didn’t mind sharing. I doubt that Scout ever caught a mouse or gopher. If he did, we never saw him with his bounty from a hunt. He was good at catching lizards.
At times, Scout thought he was a dog. He would accompany us on walks. He would beg to be petted. Like a dog, he would poop where he knew we would step in it. Other times, he was all cat and was as indifferent and as independent as we know cats can be.
After 16 years Scout was slowing down. He didn’t tease and swat the dogs like he used to. Then, Scout announced he was about to die. He announced it by not eating or even being interested in wet cat food from a can – a delicacy for him. He was put on family hospice and within a day of his announcement, Scout died and weeping ensued.
As luck would have it, Scout died on a really hot evening. It was time for a fast and proper burial in what is becoming a pet cemetery on the property. It was dark, it was hot and the dry ground was as hard as cement. We were worried that unless Scout was buried soon and in a deep grave that the heat and the coyotes would get to him. So with a big iron bar and shovel in hand the burial began under the old Bay tree.
The shovel wouldn’t even crack the surface. The iron bar was doing the trick in breaking up the soil and as I dug, it was clear that I was digging on the site of a building that is long gone. Bricks and pieces of old pottery were popping through the dirt. Would we find a coffee can full of a miner’s treasure? No.
Scout is in his final resting place joining his brothers and sisters, even the one with the white markings. RIP Scout.