My favorite memory of my Dad, as it relates to animals, is about our cat Muffin. When I was a little girl, we had a black Lab named Cinders, but we had no cats. My Dad wasn’t very fond of cats, or at least that was the story.
One day when my Mom picked us up from the babysitter’s farm, we passed a station wagon that slowed to a stop. My Mom could see in the rear-view mirror that something was dropped out the car window into the field. She stopped the car, and we got out to investigate. The “something” was a tiny kitten. I begged her to let us take the kitten home, instead of taking it back to the farm. She told me we could take it home, but Dad probably wouldn’t let us keep it because he didn’t like cats.
I’m not sure if my little girl powers of persuasion won that day, or if he really didn’t despise cats after all. It was likely a combination of the two. At the time I didn’t stop to consider why, I was just over-the-moon happy to have a cat! We named her Muffin: she had to have an “M” name because she had that letter in stripes on her forehead. We lived in the woods at the time, far away from the road, and Muffin was an indoor-outdoor cat. She was a good hunter, and she was a scrappy cat.
One time we went away for the weekend, and Muffin was supposed to be out in the garage with her food, water, and litter box while we were gone. When we got home, we opened the door to the house, and she bolted out the door. I remember my parents expecting to find places on the floor where she had gone to the bathroom. Instead, we found that she had used the toilet in the little bathroom attached to the laundry room. That’s right, lucky for us the lid was up, and she hopped right up there and made her deposits in the potty! What a clever feline!
The best part about Muffin is that she completely won my Dad over. At the end of a long workday, my Dad would settle into his recliner, and Muffin would curl up on his lap. She would rub her face against my Dad’s beard. She loved him, and I think he loved her back. We all loved her, and our cat Muffin lived to the ripe old age of 22.
That’s the wonderful thing about animals. They bring out the best in us. That scrappy little kitten became a part of our family, and I saw a softer side of my Dad when he let her stay with us. Thanks Dad, for letting us keep Muffin, and for every sacrifice you have made over the years. I love you!
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. –Umberto Eco