Since LT didn’t need to talk to other cats for directions, he made much better time heading north to get home. Yesterday, after leaving Boots and “Petty Officer” Smoochie, he followed his own trail for quite a while, since he hadn’t made any detours. He’d crossed the Toms River just at dark, and remembered that it was somewhat close to home. He’d pushed himself to his very limit, though and was exhausted. He’d settled down in an ancient cemetery to sleep. Cats have no fear of ghosts, as they know they cannot touch them.
In the morning, LT awoke even more sore than when he went to sleep. Every joint ached as he stretched, and he discovered as he stood up that his paw pads were so tender that every step was a misery. He lay down to think and groom. He had to get home. There was no one here to feed him, and although he’d done pretty well with his hunting, he still wanted food that he didn’t have to work for. Lying on his side, he carefully washed each of his pads. They were cut and bruised from all the walking he’d done, and dirty, too. He’d found the cemetery soon after crossing the river, and had been too tired to clean the mud from between his toes. As he cleaned it though, he found that the mud had acted as a type of a poultice, and although it hurt like heck to pull it off, the skin beneath looked healthy. Finding some clean sand, he kneaded his paws in it, to see if it would help him feel better. It felt soft, but a little abrasive, so he tried kneading the grass.
LT was paying so much attention to his paws he didn’t notice another cat approaching. A splendid calico hailed him saying, “Hello, stranger.”
Sitting bolt upright, LT replied, “Oh, sorry, didn’t see you coming. I’m LT and I’m traveling home from a little overnight jaunt.”
The calico looked at LT and said, “Oh, sit down again. I can see how much your paws hurt you. I’m Katze. That’s German for cat, you know. My person came from Germany when he was a kitten, so he likes to call things names in German.”
LT didn’t know how to respond to that, exactly. “Umm, my name is American, I think. The only other LT I ever heard of was an old-time football player, and since my person isn’t a football fan, I don’t know where he got the name from.” LT moaned a bit, as he shifted. His rear paws were very sore.
“Hey, my person uses a plant when he’s got ouchies, and there’s lots of it in my house. I live right over there,” Katze said, gesturing west. “Let me get some,” and off Katze ran.
In less than ten minutes, Katze reappeared with what appeared to be a green spear. She sat down and said, “This is called aloe. It helps to heal cuts and sore spots. My owner used it on my paws when I got cut from a glass he dropped. It smells very strong, but it works.”
Using her paws she carefully broke off a bit, and put it in front of LT. “Cut it with your claws and rub your paws in it.”
LT reluctantly did as she’d instructed, since it did smell very odd. The relief he felt was worth it, though. His paws instantly felt better.
“Just sit for a little while and then use some more and sit again. It should make it easier to walk today. I hope you don’t have a long way to go,” Katze said.
“I should get home today easily,” LT replied. “Thank you so much for your help.”
“Well, auf wiedersehen. That’s German for bye now. My person wanted me to sit with him, so I need to head home.” Katze scampered off.
After another treatment of aloe and some more rest, LT was ready to go. He considered taking the aloe with him, but when he tried to put it in his mouth the smell was overwhelming, even if he was careful not to pierce it with his teeth. “Ah, well. I’ll be okay for this last bit,” LT thought.
He headed north again, and found himself crossing the Metedeconk River. “I think I’m a bit too far to the east,” LT thought. “I know this river, it’s great for catching little things coming to drink, but I’m probably way east of my house.” Still, if I follow it north, and find the lake, I know I’m right near the house. If I follow it north and come to the giant road, I know I’m too far north, and I’ll come back.”
It was much nicer traveling on the bank of the river, small as it was here. The sandy soil was soft and damp and easy on his paws. He started trotting as he thought he recognized the landmarks near the lake. When he came out on the bank of the lake, he sat and sighed with pleasure. After a moment, he turned to his left and confidently trotted off home.
LT arrived in his own yard, footsore but happy. He trotted into the house, trying to look as though nothing was wrong with him, although every step hurt. Peep was in the green chair and she jumped down saying, “LT, I thought you were a goner! First the Mommy, and then you. I was so worried.” She snuggled under his chin, but he moved off towards the kitchen.
“It’s great to see you too, Peep, but I’m starved,” LT said. LT was happy to see that there was still some squishy food, although it was less than fresh. He ate all of it, and then munched a few mouthfuls of crunchies before he settled down right there on the floor.
“Where were you, LT? Miss Rudy said you were visiting friends, but you look exhausted. Did you go looking for the Mommy? Did you find her?” Peep waited expectantly for an answer.
“I’ll tell you the whole story at the Cat Club meeting tonight. Right now I want to sleep. I didn’t see the Mommy, but that’s not for lack of trying.” LT carefully got up and went into the living room to settle on the soft rug. Within moments, he was sound asleep. Peep watched him for a while to make sure he wouldn’t disappear and then settled back down for her own nap.
The Cat Club meeting that night was lively. Fuzzy and Ginger had heard from Miss Rudy that LT had gone on a road trip, and everyone wanted to know the details. LT made the most of this opportunity, describing every encounter in great detail. The other cats shook their heads at Bilbo’s silliness, and fell over laughing at Smoochie’s self-importance.
“Cats are the pinnacle of all creation. Why would Smoochie want to pretend to be an orifice like the people?” Fuzzy asked.
“Officer, Fuzzy, not orifice. An orifice is something like your mouth or the thing at the other end where the poo comes out,” said LT. The other cats laughed even harder, although whether it was at the thought of Smoochie being an orifice or at Fuzzy’s mistake was unclear.
“Settle down, everyone. The point is that the Mommy is too far away for any of us to travel there on foot. I think we’re just going to have to wait for her to come home.” LT was sad to say this, as the Peep wilted with his words. “Peep, you’ll be okay. We’re all here for you and you need to stay happy so the Daddy won’t worry about you.”
“I guess I have been moping around for the last few days,” said Peep. “I’m just so worried.”
“Worry doesn’t catch any mice, Peep,” LT loved giving sagacious advice. “If there is no other new business, I declare this meeting closed.”
When the Daddy came home later, he found LT lying on the fluffy trunk cover. “I’ve missed you, old man,” said the Daddy. “Where have you been?” Looking at LT, he noticed the cut and bruised paws. Breaking off a small piece of the aloe on the bookcase he rubbed LT’s pads with it. “This will smell bad, but your paws will feel better.”
LT smiled and stretched out to let the Daddy take care of him, and then leaned into the Daddy’s hand when he was done. He loved him so much. The Mommy might make bacon, but the Daddy was the one who’d been there for him since he was a kitten. Thinking of this and purring while the Daddy scratched his head, LT fell asleep.
Photo courtesy of Simplicius - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Katze_in_Tunesien.jpg