Lately Moo Cat has been showing up at my campsite in the middle of the night. She’ll wake me up by nudging against my head and meowing over and over. “Its me, Moo Cat, and I’m hungry!!”
I’ll grope around in the darkness for a can of cat food. Moo Cat is so excited she’s jumping all over me and purring loudly. Finally, in my half-awake stupor, I’ll figure out how to dump the cat food into the dish. Moo Cat pounces on it and eats greedily. She hasn’t had any food in several days so she’s HUNGRY.
When she’s done eating she climbs on top of my chest and I pet her for awhile. We’ve known each other for 10 years so we have some deep history between us. Then I’ll roll over and go to sleep. And Moo Cat will fall asleep on top of me.
One of the toughest things about being really sick when you’re homeless: You’re mentally and physically impaired. So you should be safely in bed under the covers where you can’t get into any trouble. Instead you’re blathering around out in public where you’re dealing with all sorts of real-life situations. While you’re a danger to yourself and to others. Case in point:
My friend Mary had some cat food she wanted to donate to the cause. But we often have a hard time hooking up in person. So she hides it at the library. And I pick it up later.
So the other day — sick as a dog with the flu or something — I get an email from Mary apprising me of her latest caper, along with detailed instructions as to how to find where she had hidden the cat food: “It’s on the 5th floor by the third shelf from the stairs, four shelves down, with the card number 720-B892 and …” It was was so complicated it was like we were planning a bank robbery heist or something. I’m not good at following instructions in the best of times. But I started getting dizzy just reading the thing.
And wouldn’t you just know it? The elevator is out of order. So I got to clod-hop it up the stairs all the way to the fifth floor. I was so exhausted I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It was like my shoes were made out of lead. It was like an American saga. Man’s Search For Cat Food. As I climbed ever upwards in my quest for the Holy Grail.
FINALLY — after several lifetimes — I made it to the 5th floor. I put my backpack and my large to-go cup of coffee on a table. And then spent 15 excruciating minutes staggering through the aisles trying to follow Mary’s directions. Until I FINALLY found the bag of cat food hidden behind this shelf of books. VICTORY!!
But a very short-lived victory. When I went back to the table I noticed — to my chagrin — that my backpack had toppled over and knocked over my large coffee. The table and floor were covered with this huge puddle of brown coffee. I had some paper towels in my pack. But not nearly enough to soak up the ocean of coffee on the floor.
So I go to the Men’s Room. But of course they don’t have paper towels (I hate those hand-dryer things!). And some bum is camped out in the toilet stall, as usual. FINALLY he gets out of the stall. So I grab a big hand-full of those paper toilet seat covers and big wads of toilet paper. I’m down on my hands and knees, scrubbing away like a washerwoman. And I was mostly able to sop up the mess with that. The weird thing was. The whole time this was going on nobody else in the room even noticed what was going on. They all had their heads down staring at their laptops and cellphones. Computers are turning us all into zombies. Thankfully. So then I got my ass out of there.
Oh well. At least I lived to tell the story. And I do have a big bag of free cat food for my goddamn feral cats. The End
Scaredy Cat (after being missing for 6 months) is definitely back at my campsite. She did something this morning that she always used to do that I had forgotten about. When I woke up and reached for my backpack to get the cat food, Scaredy Cat rushed over and beat me to it, jumped up on top of my backpack and sat there looking at me face-to-face with a big smile on her face.
It’s like she’s a queen sitting on her throne. Or she’s claiming the backpack — bearer of the goodies — as her providence. But also too: “I’m going to sit here and you must pet me first before you feed me.” Ha ha. Cats.
After sufficiently petting Scaredy Cat I gently nudged her off of my backpack and fixed her a nice big breakfast.
Mini Scaredy the feral cat has gotten very attached to me. It almost scares me how attached she is to me. I’ll give you an example.
Mini Scaredy waits for me to show up at my campsite every night. And she doesn’t wait for me at my campsite. She waits for me several blocks down the road from the entrance to the trail that leads up to my campsite in the Berkeley hills. And she’ll wait for me hiding there in the bushes for over FOUR hours waiting patiently for me to show up.
I know because I showed up at 10 PM the other night and there she was waiting for me.
And then the next night I showed up at 2 AM — four hours later — and she was STILL there waiting for me in the bushes.
The kittens had been missing for the last 10 days. I don’t know why. Mom is holing them up in a secret nest somewhere. But the whole gang came barging into my campsite in the middle of the night last night. Meowing incessantly. They were HUNGRY!!
I wake up still half-drunk. My campsite is a total mess. My cardboard matting is wet from the rain and falling apart. My blankets are strewn haphazardly in the mud. And the raccoons have dragged my backpack down the hill (bastards!). Its pitch dark. But after frantically searching through 20 different bags I manage to find a can opener and a can of mackerel.
But the can opener is a piece of junk. It opens the can halfway and stops working. The kittens can smell the mackeral so they’re really going nuts now, jumping all over me and meowing so loudly I think they’re going to hyperventilate. Which doesn’t help matters. I’m trying to pry the can open with my hands. And its one of those weird real life dramas where NOTHING is more important at this particular moment in time and space than getting this damn can of mackeral open. If only to shut up the cats. The fate of the universe is hanging in the balance.
Finally, after several lifetimes, I manage to pry the can open with a razor. Plop the food in the dish. And the cats eat breakfast happily ever after.
And I plop back down on my blankets. Its a triumph of the human spirit, I tell ya.
I think the great Mini Scaredy vs. Moo Cat feud is finally beginning to thaw out.
The other night there were no feral cats at my campsite. Usually Mini Scaredy and Scaredy Cat sleep with me all night long. But it had rained during the day. So they were probably holed up somewhere getting shelter from the storm.
So around 4AM Moo Cat dares to show up at my campsite. Usually she’s afraid to get near me when her arch nemesis Mini Scaredy is around. But tonight she’s got the place to herself. So she climbs up on top of my chest and starts meowing repeatedly in my face to wake me up.
“You!” I said.
“Meow!” she said.
I give her a couple of pets and she starts purring loudly. Then she jumps on top of my backpack where I keep the food (hint hint).
I happened to have a leftover rotisserie chicken that I had ground-scored earlier in my backpack. So Moo Cat really scored. “Meat on the bone!!” Her favorite. She immediately started devouring the chicken with gusto.
But then about 5 minutes later, who shows up? Mini Scaredy. The evil one. Moo Cat immediately starts growling fiercely at Mini Scaredy (what a tough guy she is!). But for once Moo Cat holds her ground. She doesn’t run. She continues feasting on the chicken. And for once Mini Scaredy doesn’t run Moo Cat down the hill and up a tree. Instead she trots over and sits on my chest, purring loudly while I pet her.
After Moo Cat is done eating and makes her exit, Mini Scaredy trots over to the chicken and starts chowing down. About 5 minutes later Scaredy Cat shows up (the gangs all here) and takes her turn at the chicken. And pretty soon there’s nothing left of that carcass but bones and gristle.
The fat cats all go to sleep, with smiles on their mugs. Everyone is coexisting. And there’s peace in the valley (“Can’t we all get along?”) And everyone lives happily ever after (except for the chicken). The End.