Steven Fox’s Alphabet Challenge, Day 3 ~ The letter “C” is easy. My own name begins with “C”. Many of my favorite things in life begin with this letter: candy, chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, comedy, comfort, cottage, cuisine, cats. The most difficult part of today’s entry was narrowing down the subject. Because Cooper, the cat, changed my life in a wonderful way, Cooper wins. If cats had a voice, I think Cooper’s story would go something like this…
The cold or the abuse? Cooper pondered as she watched life unfold outside through a closed window. Technically the cold IS abuse, though probably not as severe as the abuse I’ve suffered at His hands. I do love the human children. I don’t wish to leave them. However, I am beginning to fear them too. They have learned too much from the monster they call Dad.
Cooper’s decision was made. She would leave. She was no stranger to the outside world. She enjoyed hunting for food and fighting for fun. Predators that stalked her in the cover of night were the only reason she ever returned to His home, to His abuse. She would find a safe haven, something to protect her from cold and shelter her from darkness.
It didn’t take long for one of those unsupervised children to dash from the house, leaving the door wide open. Casually Cooper made her final escape, or so she thought…
It’s unseasonably warm, Cooper noted. It was a good thing too. The days were getting longer, but the nights were still brutal. Her coat had already begun to molt for the season. She needed time to adjust to the climate. She would use the warmth of the day to first find a place to rest. Her good fortune continued when, right across the street, she discovered a seemingly abandoned garage with a broken window. Purr-fect, she concluded.
Upon sneaking through the damaged window, Cooper discovered a litany of supplies. This garage may have been dilapidated but it certainly wasn’t abandoned. Less than ideal, still it would do nicely. She explored boxes until she found one filled with old blankets and children’s clothes. She had never curled up in a more comfortable bed. Cooper drifted off that night pleased with herself. She was lonely but comfortable, hungry but safe. Tomorrow she would hunt.
After a long slumber, free of drunken yelling, crying children, unprovoked kicking or tail pulling, Cooper arose with a stretch. She climbed into the window sill to sit briefly and absorb the morning sun. A rumble in Cooper’s stomach interrupted her meditation. She turned to set out on her mission for food when she realized she was being watched. In the distance she saw a human female holding a small black machine over her eye. Occasionally the human would push a button and the machine would click. Interesting. Cooper knew adult humans. They are mean. They are unpredictable. They have food. Engaging this human was a future option. However, for now Cooper wished to pursue her newfound freedom. She descended from the window sill, bolted through the back fence, and disappeared down an alley in search of food.
Cooper spent much of the day cautiously surveying her new surroundings. There were many dangers. She needed to learn her escape routes. The cats native to these streets did not welcome her. Quite the opposite, they considered her an intruder. More than once she stalked her prey only to be run off by a flailing human before she could pounce. Massive, loud boxes of metal in all colors and sizes tore down busy streets on large rolling circles. She was horrified by the number of corpses she encountered, the victims of those metal monsters.
The sun is beginning to set, she observed. It’s time to return to safety.
As Cooper crept through the yard she witnessed the human female exiting the garage. Oh no, she panicked, where do I go if it’s no longer safe?
She waited in the shadows long after the human disappeared. She proceeded cautiously through the window and was relieved to find herself alone there. What is that smell?
Cooper made her way toward the door and realized that the human had left two bowls behind. Food and water. She was beginning to like this human. Cooper huddled in and ate every crumb. When she was done she yawned and stretched, time for a nap. That food would certainly hold her over until she could hunt again later.
Eating food left by the human at night and soaking up the sun under the human’s watchful eye in the morning became staples in Cooper’s new routine. That is, at least, until He returned. One morning after basking in the glorious sunlight, Cooper began down the path toward the gate. She had just emerged from beneath the fence when she was viciously grabbed by the neck. NO! Cooper fought against His grasp. Let let me go! She hissed and bit. She swiped and slashed. They were right outside the human female’s window. Make more noise. She began to howl. As He carried Cooper away by her neck she heard it, BANG BANG BANG. The human was pounding on the window.
“Hey! You let him go! Put him down! Don’t carry him like that!” But He ignored the human’s pleas. He never turned. He never slowed. He scurried away from the concerned human like the cockroach He was.
He charged through the door and launched Cooper across the room. She scampered away and hid in the dark corner under His bed. She found comfort in the memory of her shortlived freedom. She thought back to the dismay in the female human’s voice as she plead with Him to release Cooper. Wait. Did that human say “him”? The human thinks I’m a boy. She was amused by this. The human mistook Cooper’s tough resourcefulness for masculinity. A female of any species should know better than to make such assumptions. I will befriend her, let her get to know me. I just need to get out of here again.
It would take longer than expected to find the opportunity to execute another breakout. The children were gone now. Cooper had no idea where they went. Their belongings were untouched, but they were absent, no longer there to leave doors wide open. He had become cautious about closing the door. He wasn’t going to make this easy for her. She would have to be aggressive. She waited crouched by the door. As soon as this door opens, I run.
Soon He returned home in a stupor. She executed her plan flawlessly. His altered state prevented Him from recapturing her this time. She quickly crossed the street, escaped the streetlight, and disappeared into blackness. She remained concealed for a short time until she heard voices. Humans? She wondered. She approached the yard with caution. Two of them. It’s a risk. I want to return to the garage but I need a better place to hide from Him, especially now… She let out a faint meow.
The humans turned to her but did not approach. Cooper was relieved. The female knelt low and extended her hand. Cooper advanced with care. The humans waited patiently and the female coaxed Cooper along. When Cooper was within reach the female human gently caressed her head, scratched behind her ears, and stroked her back. She removed the collar that Cooper had worn since she was a kitten. He never once loosened it, even as Cooper grew. It had become a choking reminder of the mistreatment she’d endured. This human truly freed me. Cooper had never been around one so gentle and quiet. The male human opened the door and stepped aside, as if to welcome Cooper into their home. She wasted no time. She darted through the door and began to explore her surroundings.
I need a safe place, just in case. She found a bedroom empty except for a bed. She navigated the maze of boxes and books beneath it and discovered the perfect cove in which to hide.
“Where is he?” Cooper heard the male human ask. They still think I’m a boy. They will certainly be surprised by what I have in store for them.
For the most part the humans left Cooper to adjust to her environment. They seemed sensitive to her plight. Cooper liked that about them. Well, that and the food. She was so hungry all of the time now. She ate and slept the days away.
“He’s really filling out.” The male human called Brian once observed.
“I’m not sure he’s a he.” The female human called Carrie replied.
Oh you have no idea…
A couple of weeks passed before they caught on, “I was petting Cooper today and HER belly moved,” Carrie recounted to Brian.
“No way, really?!?” Brian was still in denial.
He approached where Cooper lay in a strip of sunlight on the floor. “You got something in there for us, Coop?” He sat next to her and lightly pet her side. With a stunned expression Brian exclaimed, “I felt it too! Cooper is totally pregnant!” Cooper laughed to herself and dozed back off to sleep.
“I think maybe four kittens” she heard Carrie say as she woke from her slumber.
“Yeah, three or four” Brian agreed.
The amusement just doesn’t stop with these two. Clearly these people have never had a litter of kittens. This should be fun.
Carrie did manage to a decent job on a birthing box. Pillows, blankets, privacy, yes this will do. The Sunday the kittens made their arrival Cooper did not want to leave Carrie’s side. She was uncomfortable and quite nervous. Carrie is comforting, though maybe a little too excited about MY babies. Regardless, she would shadow her human throughout the day. Eventually it became clear that it was time to leave Carrie and settle into her box.
I do wish they would stop looking in on me. Enjoying the show nosy humans? Cooper was irritated by the constant interruptions, particularly from the overly concerned Carrie. Though, as it would turn out, Carrie’s concern was justified. There were more than three or four babies, more than five or six even. Seven kittens were born and some so closely together that Cooper had little time to clear the sac from their faces and stimulate their breathing. A few had even become entangled within the blankets in the box somehow. When Carrie looked in on Cooper for the final time that night, she carefully sifted through the blankets, placing each kitten onto Cooper’s belly, so the new mommy could tend to them properly.
Seven ~ Ellington, Julius, Khan, Louis, Lola, Shojo and Voodoo. Three girls, four boys. This family who owned no cats just a few weeks ago now has eight of them. It’s a good thing they’re decent, for humans.
SIDE NOTE: When the kittens were old enough to wean themselves naturally we began the re-homing process. Louis went first to my youngest son’s best friend’s family. He is now “Levi”. Lola followed. She went to live with my cousin’s family. Unfortunately Lola ran off while out playing with her new puppy brother and was likely picked up by another family. 😦 Khan was a birthday gift to my niece. My oldest son kept Ellington. My daughter kept Shojo. My husband and I kept Julius and Voodoo. Cooper went deeper into witness protection. She now lives with dear friends and is allowed to roam their expansive property at her leisure. She also gets lots and lots of affection when she wants to be inside around her new humans. Each and every one is treasured and loved by their respective families. I get regular updates on all, except for Lola, obviously. I like to think she’s living it up with a great family too.
Return to Short Stories
Return to Home