This is a story about a cat, a working cat, not a house cat as you might expect.
Chase, the hardware store cat, thought he had found a permanent new home that took some getting used to; however, even after a tutorial by the previous hardware store cat, he still faced numerous problems. Because he could feel and see things so intensely, he found himself surrounded by more, much more than customers. Chase understood that most people, young and old, come to the hardware store for a tool, fastener or replacement part they need to replace a leaky faucet, find a storage box to hold holiday ornaments, or to select seeds to plant a Spring garden. Mickey and her staff of one, Casey, knew the contents of every shelf and bin in the store.
But they didn’t know what Chase knew about their customers: that what many of them needed fixed would take more than a new gasket, nail or coat of paint.
That Wednesday, the day that became the reason for Meow-mo Number One began for Chase like any other day for a cat living in a dish emporium called Stone Bridge Dishes. It didn’t end nicely, at all.
In fact, Chase’s life became so eventful that he sat right down to write you the Meow-mo that could be posted on her blog site by his friend, author Faith Connors.
[Publisher’s note: We are all familiar with the brief communications people prepare as statements and reminders; we call them “memoranda” (from Latin “memorialis,” belonging to memory), “memos,” for short. Those rare authors like Faith Connors and Ginny Brinkley who understand the unique minds of their pet cats, also know they have a similar system of brief communications – Meow-moranda – or Meow-mo’s, short. The following story includes a series of Meow-mos from Chase, the Hardware Store Cat, that outline the challenges of fulfilling his new responsibilities as the hardware store cat who offered his own, unique brand of repair parts for lonely souls and broken hearts.]
Meow-mo © One — Finding a New Home
My own mother, a delicate mackerel tabby called Cleo, who spends her life as a working cat at Stone Bridge Dishes, recently let me know that a hardware store was my best bet. Chasing mice out of the store is one of my talents. It’s how I came to be named Chase, twice. The first time was at Stone Bridge Dishes and the second time happened under unusual circumstances as you’ll soon see.
Over the years, Mom Cleo has walked through displays of dishes and never as much as upset a tea cup. Ironstone is her favorite. Don’t ask me why. It was only after I managed to knock an ordinary soup tureen from a top shelf that came crashing down onto the floor in chunks and shards that Mom Cleo decided a life among plates, tea cups and glassware was not for me.
Minutes after the crash, Ray, the manager, wrinkles his forehead all the way up to his buzz haircut, glared at me and shouts, “Out!” After the crash, even before Ray had a chance to sweep up the broken pieces of the soup tureen – it could not have been ironstone – Mom Cleo tries to follow me out the back door of the shop.
The screen door slams behind me. I scurry down the wooden walkway to the parking lot behind the store. I don’t stop until I reach the field behind the place where customers park their cars. That’s where I wait for Mom Cleo to come and comfort me.
I think about Ray sweeping up the pieces of the tureen which was my favorite place for a catnap. It always felt so nice to snuggle in the soup tureen that had been warmed by the rays of the morning sun. I have never been in the field before without my mother. I think I am swept up in an instant adventure in the big field behind the dish emporium.
Alone, in the field without Mom Cleo, I sense serious danger all around for a cat like me: there is a cow sitting, chewing slowly on something, at the edge of a meadow gazing at me. Chewing and looking at me! The cow is so big. What if the cow stands up on its long legs and chases me? The cow is a danger to a cat like me…what if I get too close to the cow and it steps on me?
This is not a good place for me to stop and wait for Mom Cleo. I scramble past the cow. In the middle of the field, I sit down. That’s when I hear yipping and see a small dog running straight toward me.
I spring to my feet and race across the field toward a row of trees by the stone wall. The non-stop yipping dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, chases me across the field. He can’t catch me because I climb the nearest tree – quickly. The dog jumps up and down at the base of the tree. Fortunately for a cat like me, dogs do not climb trees.
A fox family notices me later as I back down the tree trunk, especially the red-tailed mother fox that locks eyes with me. I cling tightly to the tree trunk above her glaring eyes until it is safe for me to descend. I climb down only when I see her leading her six kits to the pond for fishing lessons. A few birds zoom overhead. A mocking bird dive bombs at me. It is a miserable experience.
Mom Cleo is inside the dish emporium. I want her to come outside. Why won’t anyone open the door for her? I wonder what to do.
Suddenly, I have an idea. Maybe I can get back inside the dish emporium. It’s easy to do. By now, I think Ray has forgotten all about the smashed soup tureen. My idea is the best thing for me to do now. I scurry across the field and down the lane to the shop door. The back door is closed. I think it is locked, too. No matter what I try, I can’t manage to nose my way into the store.
I peer in the window as I perch precariously on the edge of a windowsill. I see Mom Cleo’s basket on the floor. It is empty. Where is she? Where is Leo? He is usually right next to Mom Cleo because he is shy and likes to stay out of sight of customers.
There is only one thing left to do. I crawl under the front porch and think about what to do next. I know the shop is closed for the day, but what about the cellar door? I hope the cellar door is open, just a crack. That’s all the space I need to squeeze my way back into the dish emporium, my sweet home.
I wriggle my way out from beneath the porch and rush around the building to the back of the shop. What a disappointment. Even the cellar door in the back of the shop is tightly closed. There is no small entry for me to squeeze through.
Finding a new home for me isn’t going to be easy. There must be a store that needs a cat like me. Just for tonight, I need a temporary home. I know about house cats. Being a house cat is a possibility. I wonder if I look like a house cat. I make my way along the lane behind the dish emporium. Lucky for me, there are two house cats on a front porch step. One is asleep. The other one looks at me. I am so hungry. Is there a dish of uneaten cat food on the back porch?
I wander along the side of the house into the backyard and eat from a dish on the back porch. It is tasty enough, but mushy-wet in the middle and crunchy-dry around the edge of the dish. When I look up from the dish, I meet a house cat, a pet cat, a big bunch of cat fluff just standing on the lower step: it is an Abyssinian named Abby.
Abby lets me know she is an only cat, a valuable pet cat. The only reason she is outside is because she just escaped from her house. The dish of stinky cat food isn’t on her back porch, so it doesn’t matter to her when she sees me lick the dish clean.
Am I an Alley Cat, she wants to know. I let her know that I am not an Alley Cat.