Once upon a time, a tiny gray and white kitten got her head stuck in a piece of wood.
Poor baby couldn’t even lift her head. Taking shelter in a cold shed filled with tools and wooden beams, she wore her piece of wood like a lead shackle until the shed’s owner discovered her. Very carefully, he cut the wood. As it fell from her neck, the little kitten tasted the sweetness of freedom and wasted no time seizing it with both paws . . . she shot out of that shed like a bolt of lightning, darted across the street, and somehow ended up on our front porch.
“If you feed her, she’ll never leave,” Dad said, which, for some reason, wasn’t too effective at discouraging us. Sure enough, she came back the next day, and the next, and the next thing we knew, she had a routine: each morning at 7 o’clock sharp, if her food wasn’t on the porch, she would loudly and tragically announce to the neighborhood that she was being starved to death.
Pretty soon, she had a name: Dinkey Doodle. Dinkey for short.
Little miss Dinkey had an acute phobia of humans: we would watch and laugh as the klutzy kitty tumbled over herself trying to stumble off the porch when we brought her food. At least once, she took a nose dive to the ground a few inches below and stumbled up all wobbly and trying to shake the fuzzies from her head.
Eventually though, she began to smarten up . . . if the humans keep bringing me food, maybe they’re not going to hurt me.
One day, she let me touch her. The next, she let me run my hand down her back. Before long, she wouldn’t even sniff her food until she had received her customary morning scratch-down.
We couldn’t bring her inside, due to a couple of old indoor cats who would hiss and scratch through the glass door every time they saw her on the porch. So, during the cold months, Mom got creative with a plastic storage tub and some old blankets. On the coldest mornings, not even food or attention would entice Dinkey from the nice warm snow shelter.
Oddly enough though, she loved snow. One wintery night, Mom looked out the window and saw Dinkey digging at the snow, pawing it into little balls. Then she started whacking the balls, batting them across the yard and chasing them as if they were a family of moles fleeing from hungry cat teeth.
Speaking of moles. It’s a minor miracle (or a testament to the size of our mole infestation) that she didn’t thoroughly exterminate them from our yard. We usually found them uneaten and in one piece on the front porch. Gifts for food . . . I guess she thought it was a fair exchange.
For five years, Miss Dinkey claimed us as her own. Five short years.
I think there’s an oversized swath of Heaven reserved for the animal kingdom; and if so, I imagine she’s chasing wisps of cloud like snow balls up there, living happily ever after as she loudly and dramatically demands attention from any resident crazy cat ladies and showers them with the gift of mole.