I was hoping I would see a little cat hand stick itself out of the makeshift cat house on our porch.
Every year my daughter makes a new winter house for our barn cat, Petunia. And every year the winter house gets a little better.
This year’s cat house was an old Styrofoam cooler with an entrance cut out of it. The inside was lined with towels, and she even taped some old cloth over the cut out entrance for whatever privacy a barn cat may need when she retires for the evening.
I think at the rate my daughter is going with these winter cat houses they will have indoor plumbing within a few years.
Every morning as I left for work, a tiny cat arm would stick itself out of the entrance at the sound of the door opening, followed by a cat who was ready for breakfast.
My daughter named her Petunia. I referred to her as our barn cat, even though we really don’t have a barn. Shed cat doesn’t have much of a ring to it.
I also referred to her as our pest control technician, a job she took very seriously. She was constantly leaving proof of her excellence in the pest control field on our porch.
We live out in the sticks and have a few acres, so quality pest control is a must. I prefer cats to chemicals when it comes to addressing that issue, and Petunia was as good as they come. She would stalk our chickens as they roamed the yard but would never mess with any of them. I assume she was just honing her hunting skills.
She would periodically stand to the side of the door and smack Rascal, our security guard, on his face as he would walk outside to handle the business a dog handles outside. She never smacked him “claws out” though, so I figured she was just reminding him who the boss was outside of the house, as she saw it at least.
I didn’t think much of it when I didn’t see her exit her winter house on Monday morning. I got a text Monday evening from my wife saying she was worried about Petunia because she hadn’t eaten her breakfast and now hadn’t shown up for dinner either.
As good of a hunter as Petunia was, she didn’t miss her feeding times. We have had cats go missing for a few days here and there, but never Petunia. She never ventured too far away from the area.
She also never got too far away from a lit grill or a bonfire. She was good at finding whoever liked cats the least and jumping on their lap to relax by the fire. I have pictures of Petunia sitting in just about everyone’s lap who has ever sat around a fire here at the house.
Tuesday morning, I was really hoping I would open the door and see her paw come out of her house. It didn’t happen. I checked her food dish and the food was still there, untouched. It was in the exact same condition when I returned Tuesday evening.
I think Rascal misses Petunia, too. My wife says he has gone outside and just barked at nothing in particular a few times the past few days. Perhaps he is trying to call her in to come smack him around a bit so he can do his business.
I have never been confused with being a cat guy. I like big bully breed dogs.
But Petunia was a good cat. Now that she’s gone, I’m pretty sure she was actually a pet. I’ve never missed a barn cat or a pest control technician. I miss Petunia.
Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff.