Some things just aren’t meant to be. Like winning the lottery. Or trying to convince yourself the winter won’t be “that bad” this year. How about writing a bestselling novel? Let’s just face it, these things are quite unlikely to happen. The universe has other plans. But I never dreamed it would care about how many cats I owned.
When we moved to the farm in 1997, we arrived with two young cats who were siblings, Smokey and Tiger. We had just lost our first pet, Chucky, to cancer and had decided on adopting two cats so they would keep each other company. Having two cats was fine. But owning only two cats was not in the cards for us. We soon adopted our first stray, Lucky, an adorable grey tabby. He was followed by another stray, our first black and white cat, “Patches”. Then a homeless calico kitten, “Cally” came our way. (I should really work on my originality when it comes to pet names!) When asked how many cats I had, I would laugh and say five had found me so far. Having that many cats would often illicit some strange looks. But I loved my large feline family!
However, it wasn’t long before we were a family with four cats again. The day before she died, Cally came up to me while I was sitting on the couch and stayed there for hours. She seemed preoccupied, though, constantly looking up at the ceiling as if she were watching something, when there was nothing there. I found it odd, but a lot of things cats do are odd at times. That was the last time I held her. She didn’t come when called later that night, but often slept under our deck in the summer. The next morning, my dog Buster started pawing frantically at the back gate trying to get my attention. I still don’t know how he knew she was there, just beyond the gate on the road. My blood ran cold when I saw what had happened.
Before I buried her, I pulled out a stack of greeting cards and was about to go through them to put a note in with her box. One card slipped out of the pile and fell out onto the floor. When I picked it up, I was chilled to see it was the only card, out of dozens to chose from, that had a calico cat on it. Strange, but true.
Our tally of four cats didn’t last long. A very sweet tabby cat we called Sammy showed up a few months later. I did try and adopt her out and she went home with one of my customers, but was returned
the next day as she was too much for their household. Sadly, Sammy was destined to have a very short life as she developed cancer a year later. Being the youngest of our cats, we didn’t see it coming until it was too late. With four cats again, I still hadn’t made the connection.
As fate would have it, another black and white cat showed up a short time later. I summoned my creative talents and called her “Tricky”. She was a delightful addition to our family, but ominously brought us back up to five cats again.
Then on Christmas day, one of our original cats, Tiger, had what we believe was a stroke and sadly passed away within the hour. We barely had time to find out if a vet was open before he was gone. Needless to say, it was a very melancholy holiday for us that year. My husband, John, had to use an ice pick to dig Tiger’s grave out behind out barn. Obviously just a coincidence this time? Or maybe not?
After Tiger’s death, I reluctantly made the connection and conceded that I was not meant to own five cats. The writing was clearly on the wall and I vowed not to adopt a 5th cat anytime soon. However, against my better judgement, things were about to change. That’s when our “special needs” cat showed up. Having used up all my original pet names, I called her “Kitten”. She was extremely small and the name suited her to a tee.
She must have heard about the curse of the 5th cat, as she ran away from us for about a week, but starvation soon brought her back to our doorstep. She lives in my downstairs office, as she is absolutely terrified of leaving that one room, even though she has access to the entire house. If I carry her into another room, she literally shuts down and becomes almost catatonic, an emotional wreck. She almost died after her spay and I was racked with guilt seeing her so sick. She is my cat…and my cat only.
I waited nervously for the axe to fall, as I knew the status quo couldn’t last for long.
Then it happened. We were on holidays when I woke up from a restless sleep, anxious and troubled. Things didn’t feel right. Minutes later, we got a call from our pet sitter, Lori, that Patches had suddenly collapsed and passed away. Lori explained that she had held a mirror to Patches face for half an hour hoping, in vain, that she was still breathing. Then Lori buried her for us, never expecting this would become part of her job description. Once again, the curse of the 5th cat had reared it’s ugly head. Coincidence? Superstition? Call it what you may, fate was telling me, for the fourth time, that was I not meant to own five cats.
After loosing our 19 year old cat, Smokey, last winter to natural causes, Lucky, Tricky and Kitten are our remaining felines. Although I’m not superstitious, I’ll try my best to keep it that way.
RIP Chucky, Cally, Sammy, Tiger, Patches and Smokey – in your tiny pet cemetery out behind the barn.