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Bonzer Words!: The Cat On The Roof

Ellen Fisher tells the troubling tale of the black cat on the roof.

He is black. His ears are frayed and his voice is raucous. He lives on our roof. He'd like to live in our house and I would welcome him but our resident—striped, lizard tail eating—genus alley cat won't have it. So he lives on the roof, calls to me as I come and go and sneaks in the house through the kitty door to eat when our male striped terror is napping.

I feel for him. His family moved away and true to the folk tales surrounding cats, most of them wrong, they left him with the house. Now he is homeless through no fault of his own.

The Black Cat, whom I now call the B.C., has few choices. He is doomed to have to sneak for his food and not have a lap to nap on.

The man who stands on a corner I pass every day, holding a sign saying EPILEPSY, WILL WORK FOR FOOD has few choices also. I assume he is telling the truth. I feel sorry for him and for the B.C.

True the B.C. is a survivor. He probably survived the first cut in that he was allowed to be born, the second cut when someone chose him from the litter and took him home. The world doesn't have enough room for every cat to reproduce and every kitten to live. But now even though he'd been a good pet, he is homeless.

'Take him to the pound,' a neighbor says.

'But they will kill him.' I say. 'We should limit the number of cats by spaying and neutering not by taking abandoned pets to be killed.'

'You can't take him into your house. It is the only humane thing to do.'

I think about this for a long time. I can't take the man on the corner into my house either. The pizza eating, male, genus homo sapiens I live with wouldn't have it even if I wanted to.

So I drop money in the man's hat, put out extra kitty food every night after my lazy felines are asleep, The food is gone every morning. The man on the corner is there every morning.

Four days ago, the B.C. didn't show up. I worried about him and then searched for him. One neighbor told me she had seen him but he was limping.

I knew he wasn't my responsibility and he probably wouldn't let me catch him but I called the veterinarian to be sure he was in and took the kitty carrier and went on a bigger search.

No Black Cat.

It rained that night and I wondered if the Black Cat and the man on the corner found shelter.

After three days of no Black Cat I had decided the B.C. was probably dead. If not the infection in his foot, the fact that he couldn't run fast enough to run from a coyote. I felt sad and responsible.

Today as I got out of my car in front of my house, I hear a familiar raucous plaint. It was the B.C. telling me once again how unfair it was that my two cats had everything and he had nothing. His foot was open and draining. He must have done it himself. He was ratty and skinny but his appetite was good and his raucous cry turned to a purr. No I didn't take him to the vet. He wouldn't let me catch him. But the day seemed much better. In fact I felt so good that the black kitty was alive, I decided to give the man on the corner some money. Don't do it, friends told me. People like him will only spend it on alcohol and drugs and will end up in worse shape as a result of your well intentioned money. But that's what people said about the black cat on my roof and I know how bad I felt when I thought he'd (The B. C.) died alone and without care. I wasn't going to do it to help the man but to keep me from feeling bad.

The next day as I drove to class I looked for my WILL WORK FOR FOOD man and he wasn't there.

© Ellen Fisher


Ellen writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au


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