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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 72 – A Shy New Family Member

…There in a cage was a tiny, scared black kitten with white paws and green eyes. She was the runt of the litter, and she looked so frightened that I fell in love with this little cat…

Gayle Woodward tells of welcoming a small shy cat into her family.

To read earlier chapters of Gayle’s heart-warming autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/life_is_too_short_to_drink_bad_wine/

Karyn began high school and there met girls whom she would still consider friends well into her adult life. She was playing representative netball for the Howick- Pakuranga area. She struggled with maths and excelled in art and technical subjects, but was a happy and popular girl.

A friend we had heard about often since moving to Auckland was a certain Bryan Bell. Karyn and Bryan would walk to and from school together and I thought of him as a nice boy with a wide grin. When he went on holiday with his parents, Karyn took over his paper run. She had to deliver newspapers to a local retirement village and place them into the letter boxes of the villas. I took her in the car and waited while she ran up and down little lanes to deliver the papers.

In April 1990 I saw in the local paper a photo of abandoned kittens held at the local vet clinic. I decided on the spot to phone the clinic. I was told that they had but three kittens left, one male and two females, a tortoiseshell and a black and white. I asked them to hold the females for me to look at and rushed to the clinic the next day after school.

There in a cage was a tiny, scared black kitten with white paws and green eyes. She was the runt of the litter, and she looked so frightened that I fell in love with this little cat. I was told that she would be able to come home with me in a few days’ time after vaccinations and other things had been completed.

Woody was not pleased and thought it would be awkward when we went camping and had to find someone to feed this cat. The kids, on the other hand, were ecstatic. “I want it to be mine,” said Mark.
“No,” said Karyn. “I’ll be here longer than you. It should be mine!”

Thursday arrived when I could purchase a cat cage and go to collect the cat I had waited for so long. It howled plaintively in the car, and I talked quietly to it. The moment we got the kitten inside at the top of the stairs, we opened the cage. With that, our little black and white kitten ran out of the cage and scampered down the stairs as far away from the people in the house as possible.

She found doors closed to the outdoors luckily and kept going until she came to Jeff’s bedroom. There she encountered Jeff’s pride and joy, a black leather water bed which he had bought with his wages. She squeezed her way under that bed so far that we could not see her.

And there she stayed - all through that night and all through the next day. Jeff went to work and I left beside his bed milk in a saucer and some food to tempt her out. I found when I came home from work that the food and milk had been taken and that she had cleverly messed in Jeff’s shower, but she was still not to be seen. The water bed could not be moved without emptying all the warmed water inside, and we were all disappointed that our new little pet had still not met us.

On Saturday night, after the cat had remained hidden, our friends Carol and Owen came to our house for a card evening. There were drinks flowing and much laughter and shouting, when suddenly a very small and black face peeked around the door to the dining room. We all shrieked, “There’s the Cat!” as one. The kitten jumped into the air and raced as fast as her short legs would take her back to the safety of the water bed hiding place. And there she remained for four more days.

At the end of this time our little pet came shyly up the stairs to meet us, and we could at last introduce her to the litter box and the feeding bowls. She had a peculiar mewing sound, “Arow,” which sounded to us like “hello.” And so she was named Koko for the gorilla Koko, who learned to talk using sign language.

This cat soon became part of our family and because she was so vocal would appear to hold a conversation with us.

However this was the original Scaredy Cat who would always run and hide if a visitor arrived at the door. She would not come near the children’s friends or any of our relatives. But she would crawl onto the knee of any family member or the bed of a sad or worried teenager at night. Koko became a comfort and a delight.

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