Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Proof Of Life

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published May 22, 2014] © 2014 

I’ve written before about my neighbor Bob’s cat, Tiger.  Or actually, former cat Tiger.  This wonderful kitty passed away last summer despite heroic treatments to save him.  Bob was devastated.  But a new and happy feline chapter has begun. 

The irony is that for the first few years we knew Bob, he not only didn’t have pets but was clear he didn’t want them.  The first column I wrote about Tiger chronicled the story of the cat  showing up nightly outside Bob’s French doors, meowing piteously, as Bob watched ESPN.  Bob would patiently return the cat to its rightful owners, two ladies who lived a block away.  Bob had a demanding job, a robust social life, and as his hunky physique attested (brief pause while Inga splashes water on her face) logged serious gym time.  No interest in a cat.
But the cat was undeterred, and after a few hundred dollars’ worth of consultations with a kitty psychic (commissioned by the two ladies, not Bob), the feline Freud announced that while Tiger was grateful to his current owners, he would prefer the male bonding and continuous ESPN coverage on two large screen TVs offered at Bob’s.  And thus Tiger officially relocated, and like Bob, became an inveterate Yankees fan.  There was some conjecture that Tiger was in it for the premium sports channels all along. 

It was hard to say exactly when, but over the course of a lot of stolen bases, Tiger stole Bob’s heart as well.  It took a few months after Tiger’s passing, but Bob decided that a house without a sports-watching cat was not a home.  Girlfriends came and went but it had not been lost on Bob that a cat loved you unconditionally, and more to the point, never complained about the ridiculous number of athletic events you might be simultaneously viewing.  It helped that the cat was a serious sports fan himself.
When Bob went to look for a new cat four months after Tiger’s demise, I don’t think there was a marmalade tabby in this county that was not thoroughly vetted.  We suggested to Bob that he show prospective kitties his iPad tuned to ESPN and see how they reacted.  My husband Olof observed that as long as the cat knew the infield fly rule, he’d work out fine. 

One day on a website of a north county animal shelter, up popped a orange tabby named, fortuitously, Tiger.  It was meant to be.
There were some initial speed bumps.  Tiger II was already eight years old and needed at least $300 worth of dental work.   Further, the cat’s skittishness and scrawny physique suggested substantial time on the streets.  When Bob first took him home, the kitty refused to come out from under the pillows on the guest bed for a week.  But Bob was patient and before long, this cat was a lap-hugging sports fanatic as well.  It knew on which side its fur was rubbed.

Recently Bob had to be away for four days and needed someone to give Tiger II the care to which he had become accustomed, nay, now demanded. We’d do anything for Bob who has helped us out more times than we can count.  So I was summoned over to an hour of what my husband called “Tiger U”: detailed instructions on the kitty’s dietary and recreational preferences. 
As the days before Bob’s trip approached, regular text messages would appear on my phone.  “I forgot to tell you…  Did I mention…” 

Now I adore animals in general and this kitty in particular.  So I expected to spend a lengthy period twice a day with El Tigre Dos on my lap stroking his dentally-enhanced and more filled-out furry self. 
Even after Bob left, anxious texts arrived.  Cat OK?  So I started bringing my cell phone over and texting Bob photos of Tiger contently parked on my lap titled “Proof of Life” or even “Proof of Lap.”  Exhausting that, we launched into cat selfies.  Ultimately the kitty and I collaborated on cell phone videos entitled “Proof of Purring.” 

So I think I did a pretty good job except on the sports front.  The cat was pretty nice about it but he kept looking up at the two blank big screen TVs and seeming to say, “Isn’t it Derby Day?  Do you not know how to turn on a remote?”

But Bob is back and I can hear the TVs on again, pretty much non-stop.   All is once again right in Bob-and-Tiger Land.  And best of all, it’s Yankee season.

Cat selfie:

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