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Britannica Cat

Britannica Cat

Roselawn Ave., the street pictured, was where Jim and I had our first home together. He had grown up in the large white house shown at the south end of the street. Our house, a small two-bedroom cottage, is just to the right of that house, on the opposite corner. We were both working at the DuPont Experimental Station at the time, near Wilmington, Delaware. One of my co-workers, a widow lady with a young daughter, asked us to care for her cat while she took a week of vacation time. Knowing we were animal lovers, she knew we’d take good care of the cat. What none of us took into account was that her kitty was a very sheltered cat which had never come into contact with males of any species. That little cat had never even seen a man. My friend delivered the kitty to our home in a small pet carrier, along with all her care products, and enough food for the week. After the owner left, we opened the door of the carrier. The cat immediately sank, crouching and hissing, into the far corner of her cage. Leaving the cat there to adjust to her new temporary environment, we left for work. That small cat got a little braver each day, but would never come out of her box when Jim was present. Finally, four days into the week, I removed the box, hoping to encourage her to get used to Jim’s presence. By the week-end, she still cowered under furniture when he was around. On that Saturday, there came a knock at the front door. I opened the door and found a young man who told me he was selling magazines and sets of Encylopedia Britannica to pay his way through school. Taken with his sympathetic story, and not thinking about the cat, I invited him inside. The cat took one look at that male person, and literally screamed up the walls. Emiting high-pitched screeches and yowls, she left scratch marks all the way to the ceiling before dropping to the floor. Flying between the salesman’s feet, she headed right out the open door, leaving him dazed. I quickly explained the situation to him, and he gamely leapt out the door to help Jim give chase. Our next-door neighbor’s Boxer dog wanted to join the hunt, frantically barking and digging holes in the ground at the end of it’s chain. That gave increased impetus to the cat’s flight. Across the street and through several front yards, with the cat quickly outdistancing them, Jim and the young salesman flew in pursuit. Finally the cat spied a place of refuge and she skittered under the raised front porch of a house half a block down the street from ours. Down on hands and knees those two pursuing men went, clambering gamely under that porch. The salesman, clad for the day in a suit and tie, was the first to reach the cat. She, realizing that she was cornered, didn’t give up without a fight. Taking on Jim and the salesman in turn, she turned into a clawing, hissing demon. Finally, grasping her in claw-torn hands, with his trousers torn and dirty, and with a bitten knee, the salesman emerged victorious with that furious feline. Returning her to our home, he then accepted Jim’s offer of a ride to the office of our family doctor for proper treatment of his wounds. After paying the doctor, Jim brought him back to our home to pick up his sales materials. We felt so guilty about his battle-wounded condition that we bought a whole set of Enclopedia Britannica from him, all 24 volumes. When my friend came to claim her kitty the next day, she found the cat in quarantine. Because it had bitten the salesman, the cat had to remain as our mandatory caged “guest” for two weeks, with a veterinary examination at the end of that time. Finally, my friend was able to reclaim her beloved puss, but our friendship had suffered a significant meltdown. The monthly arrival of one book at a time of the encyclopedia set kept us reminded of that incident for a very long time!

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