No, I don’t have a pet cat. To be honest, I’m more of a dog person, but I do love cats too. Since last year, I’ve had a couple of encounters with these furry felines.
When my mother was confined in a government hospital in the province, there was one night that I awoke with a start.
“Mom? Did you call me?” I asked, feeling disoriented. Briefly, I noticed a cat brushing past my arm, then disappearing into the darkness. Did I really see a cat inside the hospital room? Or was I imagining things? My eyes were still adjusting. I was lying on a foldable reclining chair, something that you would use on the beach. I sat up straight and started surveying the room.
“No,” she was half asleep.
“Mom, there’s a cat!”
“There’s no cat. Go to sleep.”
I looked at my phone, it was about four in the morning. I might be hallucinating from too much stress.
“Okay, I just need to go to the bathroom first.”
When I pushed the bathroom door open and turned on the light, I swear this was the precise moment where there should have been a creepy music cue. It was like straight out of a horror movie. There was debris all over the bathroom floor, on the sink, in the toilet bowl, and even in the pail. I looked up and saw a gaping hole in the ceiling. The cat must have fallen from there! Poor cat! I hope it didn’t get hurt, but it does have nine lives.
“Meow!” It was coming from under my mother’s bed.
I went out to call the custodian to help with the whole situation. I found two of them chatting while having a snack. They both looked at me dubiously when I told them about the cat.
“Maybe it was a ghost!” One even joked.
“Ate*, please come to our room, “ I pleaded.
One of them reluctantly complied. She was just as shocked as I was to see the bathroom.
“We’ll ask maintenance first thing in the morning.”
“Okay, thanks! The cat just went outside!” I said cheerfully. See? I wasn’t kidding.
It was an odd night, but fortunately, I was able to go back to sleep easily that night, dreaming of cats.
Sometime later, my mother was discharged, and we went back home. Ahh! Home sweet home! Since my mother’s accident, she had been bedridden, so she stayed in an open space downstairs, which was ideally situated near the bathroom and dining area. Her wheelchair was also easy to maneuver, as there was more space. My mother used my younger brother’s old bed, which we moved from his room. So I could always keep an eye on her, I used our sofa bed to sleep in at night.
One early morning, I woke up again to see a cat running in the living room.
“Mom! There’s a cat again!”
“How did it come in?”
“I don’t know!” I stood up to look for it, but it had vanished without a trace.
Later, I recounted the incident to my father. We came up with several explanations. But they all sound ludicrous. If it jumped through the open awning on the windows, it would have broken something on its way down. Or at least something would have been amiss. Nothing had been moved, everything was where they were supposed to be. Maybe it was a mouse? My dad suggested. No, it would be so big for a mouse. We also checked the sliding window beside mom’s bed, but she hardly opened it at night, for the very fear of a cat or some other scarier creature looming in.
The next day, it happened again! But the cat would always beat me! I could never reach it before it absconded. Clever cat! (Or maybe I was just so sluggish?)
On the third day, upon waking up, my eyes were focused, and I was poised to catch the cat. This time, I was determined. Lo and behold, there it was! Running towards my brother’s old room. Then it jumped over a box (the room became a storage area) and nimbly through a hole in the window screen. Oh! I forgot that! Somebody left the window open. We didn’t consider checking it as there was a screen (it was the old style of the house, which my dad didn’t modify when we had renovations years before). I remember there was a small gap but not large enough for a cat. It must have clawed at it until the brittle screen gave way, hoping to find some food inside. Cat case solved.
There was another cat incident, but this one happened years before, when my mother was still well. In the same vacant room where she stayed, there was a small piano that had become a steady fixture against the wall. We had it for years, but nobody bothered to play it. It was early evening, and my mother, brother, and I were having dinner in the dining room when we heard a faint purr.
“Is that coming inside the house?” Mom asked.
“I’m not sure.” I could never trust my ears.
“Yes, I think it is.”
My brother went to the unused room and looked around, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. “Meow!”
It was so soft, it was barely audible. “Meow!”
But my brother’s ears were more sensitive than mine. “Behind the piano!” Sure enough, it was there, a small kitten, looking at us with its big yellow eyes, terrified.
I couldn’t remember how my brother did it, but eventually, he was able to lure the poor kitten out of the house. We would have adopted it, but both our parents disliked having pets.
And that concludes my CATastrophes. Hope you have a PURRfectly lovely day. Stay PAWsitive and PAWsome! Okay, this is getting way too much!
Ate is a Filipino term for older sister. We also use it to refer to an older female relative, respected friend, or any female stranger.