The path from the road to the house is an eight of a mile. It curves a bit to the left before it reaches the house. On an August morn arrived a tiny noir package, only two and a half pounds. It parked itself on the deck near the barbacue grill. Next day it was still there. We put out a small dish of milk and ignored it. Another day passed and we noticed it had climbed up to the lower shelf on the grill where the folded fire blanket is.
Three days and it still is here. Bill loves cats, maybe it is time to have a pet. We knew the vet from the last cat that had wandered to the deck and we tried to rescue but was too late to do any good. So we took the black ball to the vet to make sure it was healthy and get whatever shots were necessary.
First we named her Augusta to remind us we found her in August but the vet said it was a he. It was so small we could not tell. So we named him Augustus, Gus for short.
All was well, we let him in the house, gave him a bath and adjusted to a small creature among us. He was an indoor pet, young and energetic. He seemed too active for indoors so we began to let him out for some fresh air and another look at the world.
One day, he came home and could hardly walk. He could not be touched and cried a lot. Finally we ventured to pick him up and take him to the vet. Without an x-ray machine the vet could not be certain but he thought Gus had a broken leg, and we would have to take him to another vet two towns east of us. It was Sunday night and the vet would meet us at the clinic. The vet and his wife had been to the movies. X-rays proved that Gus had a broken femur and would need surgery. The vet would operate tomorrow morning and we could pick Gus up on Tuesday.
The top part of the femur had to be removed, the vet said, and he would heal fine. He needed to see Gus in a week to remove the stitches. Three days later we were back at the vet because Gus had pulled out two of the stitches. Now Gus had what they called staples in his hip, and again we would have to return in a week to have the staples removed, four of them. And it would only cost us one thousand dollars.
What we did learn at this new vets office is that our Gus is a Maine Coon, with his long black hair and could grow as large as thirty-pounds. We gasped!
He is an odd little fellow, not so little any more at sixteen pounds. He loves to go out in the rain and has no problem getting soaked. I think he does it just so we can wrap him in a towel to dry him off so he doesn't leak all over the house. He understands English and does come when called. He is definitely from Missouri, 'Show me' is what he does when asked what do you want, show me. He sits in front of the refrigerator when he wants wet food, he stands in front of his bowl when he is low on dry food. When he wants to go out he stands or sits by the kitchen door and screams for someone to let him out.
When Gus catches a field mouse, he of course wants to bring it in, we do not humor him that far.
After he comes into the sun room he must be brushed before he is permitted into the house. His long hair catches too much brush and leaves to let him wander free. He runs into the sun room up to the door to the laundry room. I stand half way between both doors and order him, commere, commere, commere(slang for come here). He turns around from the laundry room door and comes to be brushed or combed. Then, once the door is opened he makes a mad dash for the food, eats, maybe has some water then turns around and yells to go back out.
He sleeps with Bill, curled up near his knee. Sometimes he jumps up on Bills chest at three in the morning and smells close to Bills face. A quiet wake up call to be let out.
We don't know where he goes when outside, except for the times he brings us mice, or when he chases the birds that rest in the bush near the house. He disappears for hours and Bill worries. Sometimes we can easily notice the limp. Occasionally he lays down near his bowl of food and paws a few pieces out of the bowl and brushes them close to his mouth to eat. He will only drink water standing up or sitting up. He has a pitcher near his food. He loves when there is fresh ice cubes in with the water and spends time trying to catch a cube, or he like the ice water on his paw to wash other parts, either and or both.
We bought one of those towers for him to scratch at and climb, it also has a little cubby hole. We had to put stones on the bottom to hold the tower secure. It is really made for little cats that don't have much weight. We added about twenty five pounds of rock to the bottom so he could not tip it over. It has little pompoms hanging and a rope to scratch at. Gus is mildly amused with them.
One of his favorite amusements is when I walk around the house dragging a length of twine, about a yards worth. He chases us through the rooms until I am tired of the exercise.
A favorite is when we roll a crumpled scrap of paper in the palms of our hands as for meatballs. He hears the sound and runs behind a piece of furniture poised to attack. When it's thrown he jumps at it like a ping pong ball. He will only fetch when HE wants to play.
He's been with us now seventeen months, a member of the family, boss of the bosses. He has us wrapped around his paw and as long as there is food in his bowl, water in his pitcher and someone to open the doors for him, everything is fine, there is peace. The boss is satisfied.