We moved into our house three years ago. Laura saw something in the place that I really did not and insisted that we buy it. In retrospect, I’m really glad we did. This place is perfect for us. We are isolated, secure and could be largely self-sustaining, which we really like.
Not long after we moved in, I started seeing something. A blur, a shape, something out of my peripheral vision. For a while I chalked it up to my writer’s imagination and largely ignored it, but there was something stalking us. Something small, grey and without a tail. Our house came with its very own Manx cat.
I’d never been adopted by a cat before. I really didn’t know what to do, but after I saw her for the first time I knew I had to do something. I did know enough about cats to realize that this wasn’t just a house cat without a tail, but a Manx cat through and through. She was a ghost around the place, vanishing for days and observing us from a distance. She was named “Kitty Batman” by my wife for habit of watching us through the windows with only her ears and eyes showing. She really did look like Batman.
Our relationship started with a little food left out by the porch. Over time, she began to eat it. After six months or so, I was allowed to scratch her ears. By the time a year had passed, I had a new friend. She followed me like a dog and tried to tell me stories, but I don’t speak cat. Laura was won completely over even though she had a passionate hatred for cats. Batman refused to be in the house – I think, in retrospect, that maybe she had been a prisoner of war, or something. She would not be confined.
She was a constant companion with me during some trying times. We were severely impacted by the recession and the office that I was managing suffered some serious cutbacks, which directly affected us. During that time, Batman followed me every step outside and would even leap onto my shoulder to ride along while I was cutting firewood.
She went on hikes with us, which astonished me. I’ve never heard of a cat hiking with its companion human voluntarily, yet there she was. Contentedly following along, trilling happily about the company and the adventure. She fought coyotes, kept the mice at bay and sometimes, when I picked her up and felt all the scar tissue on her tiny body, I wondered at the ferocity that she must have. She killed snakes and drug them home for us to see, much to Laura’s dismay. My job every morning was to check the porch for our “presents,” and make sure that they were gone.
She hated all other cats, refusing to allow them anywhere near our house. She would fight until the bitter end. I once watched her vanish into the forest with her fangs sank into the skull of another cat. This was her turf, her place and she allowed no challengers. She enjoyed riding in my old truck and would stand on my lap with her face out the window. I learned, very painfully, that she did not like the window up. I still have the scars from that lesson.
While she never became dependent on us, she did enjoy being fed. With quite discerning tastes, she made it quite clear that she enjoyed duck fat and would yowl at the door if we were cooking duck. She never lost her spirit nor did she ever stop hunting. This proved to ultimately be her end.
She was buried on our land under her favorite tree with her own small headstone and a great pile of rocks placed over her grave. I cried for hours. I was inconsolable for days.
Laura launched a search for another Manx cat and brought one home. He was half grown and black as night and even more wild than Batman. He spit at us and vanished into the forest for weeks. He eventually came back to the porch for the food and water but remained very aloof. I would have nothing to do with him. Laura named him Stubbs for his obsession with our charcoal grill. Last night, in true Manx spirit, he stood off a coyote six times his size that was trying to get to his food in a screaming, yowling, spitting fit.
This morning, he allowed me to rub his head. I think I may have a new cat.