Two years ago this coming October, we lost our cat Maggie to kidney disease. Completely true to her diva personality to the end, she survived two and a half years beyond the 6 month prognosis the vet gave her.
Maggie's death was particularly hard on Mark, who was the only one of us at home when it happened.
(Yes, I know this is old news. Hang in there - it all comes together at the end.)
So it was a bit of a surprise, perhaps six weeks later, when I noticed a flyer on the desk that Mark had brought home: "MAINE COON
ADOPTIONS." He had seemed pretty adamant about not getting attached to any more cats any time soon. He claimed that he had just taken the flyer from a friend to be polite. Sure.
So the next thing you know, Carter was online, checking for Maine Coons available for adoption in Marin. As luck would have it, one was "in stock" at the Marin Humane Society. Clearly, it was a sign. Carter and I went by athe very next Saturday morning in November 2008 to check out the kitten. (Not entirely coincidentally, Mark was off on an all-day hike that day, and was unreachable.)
By noon, the kitten had taken up residence in our bathroom.
The Humane Society had given him the name Sami which was totally wrong for him. He had a great purr and big personality so in short order he became Hemi.
He was also incredibly loving, friendly and sociable. Our remaining older cat, Slick, hated him from day one.
After about six weeks of watching Slick rebuff Hemi's every effort to be friends, Carter and I decided that Hemi needed a friend closer to his own age - somebody who would play with him and keep him entertained while his three humans were at work and school. So the next Saturday, while Mark was again on a hike and unreachable, we headed back to the Humane Society.
How could we resist this?
The Humane Society had gotten it right this time. This little guy started out as Hank and Hank he has remained. Hank was jumpy and nervous but once he got used to us, he was a snuggler of the highest order. He liked nothing better than being picked up and held like a baby, front paws flung over our shoulders, so that he could rub his face up against ours.
Amazingly, Hank and Hemi took to each other immediately. Despite the fact that he's only about six weeks older than Hank, Hemi seemed to think that he was Hank's mother. He groomed him, came running if Hank cried and snuggled right up with him to sleep.The two of them have remained fast friends ever since. They race around the house together, eat out of the same bowl and continue to groom each other.
Since they arrived in the fall, we kept them inside until the following spring, when the weather got nicer and after we had all developed a certain comfort level about our house being their home. When spring rolled around this year, we got a big dowel fitted for the sliding glass door and as long as the weather has been nice, we've left that door open just enough for a cat to get in and out.
All was right with the world. Hank and Hemi could come and go as they pleased during the day and when we were all home together at night, they'd come in and we'd close the door and everybody was safe and sound.
Then Hank discovered his inner hunter. He may still be a nervous and jumpy cat around strangers but he's also incredibly stealthy and fast.
It started out simply enough. He'd catch a small mouse and very gently carry it into the house and drop it. The mouse would be in a state of shock, so it was easy to pick it up by the tail and take it back outside.
Then it got a little more complicated. Hank would catch a mouse and bring it inside when nobody was home. The mouse would get away from him and go into hiding until after we had all gone to bed. Hank would re-find the mouse, bring it underneath our bed and bat it around until either Mark or I would get up, grab the mouse by the tail and take it back outside.
Occasionally, Hank would show up at the door to be let in, head held curiously low. Closer examination would reveal a wiggling tail sticking out the side of his mouth. One hand on tail, one hand helping teeth to relax, another mouse returned to the wild.
Sometimes there would be two mice - apparently Hank felt Hemi should have one too.
Then one night we were sitting on the couch, watching tv, when a rat walked through the family room, followed closely by Hank. A bucket and a broom later, Mr. Rat was outside and Hank was obviously a little miffed about things.
Clearly both we and Hank were unhappy about the progression of events. He stopped bringing his friends back to the house to play and we breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that we had made it through this phase without any truly regrettable incidents.
I mean seriously: Is this the face of a killer?
Yes, denial is not just a river in Egypt.
Two nights ago, around 10:30, I called both cats in from the backyard. In they came, rodent-less. Perhaps ten minutes later, as I walked into the bedroom I came face to face with Hank who had a large, eviscerated rodent corpse in his mouth. I grabbed the bucket. Mark grabbed Hank and gently gave him a shake over the bucket. Corpse removed to the back porch.
When I left the next morning, I was very clear in my instructions to both Hank and Hemi: NO RODENTS TODAY.
But as Mark points out, they don't speak English very well and could just as well have interpreted my instruction as MO' RODENTS TODAY.
Let's just say that even though Hank has the face of an angel, I'm still stepping carefully and checking under the sheets before I get in.