by Kevin Burton
With so much space at the house in Yellow Springs, my cat Mex and I started a game I called “chase the kitty.” It was a real chase without catching her as an object. The purpose was to do something together, to get some exercise, whatever.
I would always use the same words, “chase the kitty, chase” so she knew we were playing a game. She wasn’t running at top speed, neither was I.
I do recall a time of Mex did run at a full sprint.
Ohio State won a national championship in football in 2002, but they didn’t exactly demolish opponents. They won many games by a whisker.
The next year it was more of the same, conservative play calling, close wins over lesser teams. It came to a head when Ohio State faced lowly Marshall.
I watched in increasing frustration as they managed no better than a 21-21 tie going into the game’s final play. Worse, their path to victory was a 55-yard field goal attempt.
I watched Mike Nugent’s kick sail through the uprights. I saw the referees raise their arms to signal the kick was good.
For even more proof, I turned to the right and the radio I had on. I heard Paul Keels, the voice of the Buckeyes, say “he’s got it!”
Then I screamed.
I fell back on the bed could not stop screaming. I couldn’t hear the radio just screamed out my relief. At some point I was aware of being up by the ceiling, looking down on my body lying on that bed screaming.
The only other sound I was aware of at that time, was claws on that red plush carpet. Mexy was soooo out of there. She reached top speed then for sure, making sure she lived long enough to see next week’s game.
If she could talk, that’s a story she would have repeated.
By this time we had a lot of stories to swap. She had her favorite places to be. There were blankets I folded just so, to accommodate her leisure comfort. That’s where she was when she wasn’t sleeping on my back. She got all of her food and some of my food.
She had a car ride up the highway once in a while as we shuttled between Columbus and Yellow Springs. I didn’t ask much more of her until one day I did.
I decided in 2005 to accept a job in Wichita. That meant saying good-bye to all she knew.
Before we left, I had to get permission for both of us to get on the airplane. She had to have her shots, I had to get a new updated ID.
Moves are traumatic for cats and you can’t tell them reasons for the change or what to expect.
Mex was surprisingly quiet on the airplane. When I got to my new apartment I left her in the carrier long enough to go to a nearby Wal-Mart for a cat box and litter. Once those were secured I opened the box and let her look around tentatively.
“This is it Mex,” I said. I showed her where the litter box and her food was and set about putting my things in order too.
If Mex missed Ohio she wasn’t able to express it, at least not right away.
Not long after the move I went back to Ohio for a visit, packed a small U-Haul and a friend drove me from Ohio to Kansas. One of the things I packed was Mex’s perch. It is a scratching post with a place on top with space for her to lie down.
When we brought it into the apartment and she saw it she meowed loudly, sprinted across the room and took a flying leap onto the perch.
That joyful dash and her loud purring represented another bonding point for us. That perch meant familiarity and let her that this was not just my new place, this was our new place.
She did a funny thing not long after that. I left the front door open briefly and she dashed out then turned around and came back into the apartment.
I think she was telling me, “I saw my chance to escape, I acted on it and you could not have stopped me had I decided to go. But I know where my home is and I know who my home is.”
“So you lucked out, this time.”