LT and the Daddy had just finished their breakfasts and were still sitting at the kitchen table. Daddy was reading and absentmindedly caressing LT’s head. Although LT wasn’t much for pats and such, he loved the Daddy and was happy to be sitting on the table, sharing this time with him. As LT lay in a half-drowsy state he thought about what the Peep had said yesterday. He felt about the Daddy the way the Peep felt about the Mommy. He’d been with the Daddy almost all of his life, and really all of it that he could remember clearly. He was such a little kitten when he came to live with the Daddy, it was hard now for him to figure out if what he remembered was a memory, or what the Daddy had told him about how he was when he was a kitten.
The first memory that LT had at all was living on a farm with his cat mommy and daddy. He didn’t think it was a very nice place for them to live, because he remembered that his mommy didn’t really have enough milk for all of the kittens. There had been quite a few others in the litter, he wasn’t sure how many, but his mommy was always hungry. The kittens had fought over her milk, and sometimes he’d been batted aside, and left hungry himself. When they were old enough to eat real food, there wasn’t enough for all of them, and again he often lost out on the available food.
One day as he lay crying from hunger a huge man had come and picked him up. He’d never been handled by a person before, and was absolutely terrified. The man had spoken to him very softly, and rubbed his fur with one gentle finger. As the man continued to talk, he’d started to calm down. The man had put him in a box with a very soft towel and made a nest for him to lie in. The man then put the box in his truck and drove away.
That ride had been terrifying. Of course, since that time, he’d had many rides in cars and trucks, but what does a little kitten know from trucks? It was bumpy and noisy and it seemed like it would never end. The man petted him from time to time, again just with that one big finger, trying to soothe him, but at that point he was too terrified to calm down. After what seemed to be forever, the bouncing stopped and the man picked up the box and got out of the truck. There were voices above his head, but he was too scared to look up and see what was going on. He burrowed further into the towel, trying to hide altogether.
A different smelling set of hands picked him up and a voice said, “Look at this little fellow. He can fit in one of my hands! What a beautiful little tiger cat. From what you say, he’s lucky to be here rather than on that farm. He probably would have starved, or gotten attacked by something and killed.” The man brought him up to his face and rubbed his cheek against his fur, saying, “What a lucky little tiger cat. Hey, I think there’s a name in that. I’ll call him Lucky Tiger.”
The man, who he soon discovered was named Jay, brought him in the house and gave him some absolutely delicious food and a dish of milk all to himself. He’d sat on the kitchen table, the same way he was right now, next to the Daddy. He’d never had that much food in his life, and the man had stopped him from eating too much. “I don’t want you to get sick, Lucky Tiger. Just a little bit at a time.”
The man picked him up and placed him back in the box with the towel. It was late in the day, and wherever the man went, he took the box with him and talked to the kitten, so that he wouldn’t be lonely. At bedtime, the man took the box into the bedroom and placed it on a table next to the bed, and checked on the kitten throughout the night.
LT sighed as he remembered his kitten days. Life was so incredible then. There was more food than he could ever want, and a marvelous man to play with. It would have been perfect if there had been other cats, but he was an only cat at that time.
He soon had enough of sleeping in the box. He kept climbing out of it, and the man had stopped putting him into it, fearing that he’d fall off the table and hurt himself. That night at bedtime, Lucky Tiger had scrambled up onto the bed and stood on the man’s chest, looking into his face. He remembered telling him, “I love you. You are so good to me. I get lonely at night, though. Can I sleep here with you?”
The man seemed to understand him, and said, “You can sleep here with me, but I can’t promise I won’t roll over on you, so be careful, hear?”
He walked to the top of the covers and burrowed down under them, snuggling up to the man. Oh, this was heaven. He had the best night’s sleep he could remember in his short life, and didn’t wake up until the man got up in the morning.
“Time to rise and shine, sleepy head,” the man said.
“Just five more minutes, Daddy,” he remembered saying. It was the first time he’d called him Daddy. It just seemed right. He took care of him just like a mommy cat or daddy cat would, and actually better than his mommy and daddy had taken care of him. From that time, he slept in the bed with his Daddy until he was a grown up cat. It was always so safe and comfortable to be snuggled under the covers with him – almost like being with his littermates and his cat mommy.
As he grew, he started to venture outside. There was a big wide world out there, and it just begged to be explored. There were birds, and mice and rabbits and lots of nice things to look at. He always came home though, when he heard his Daddy calling him. “Lucky Tiger, Lucky Tiger. Come here Lucky, come here LT.”
The Daddy found that as the kitten grew, he looked more like an LT than a Lucky Tiger. Lucky Tiger was a good name for a kitten, but this was now a cat, and a good-sized muscular cat. He was more of an LT, the Daddy decided.
LT became very adventurous as he got older. At first he would spend hours away from home, and then almost the whole day. He did have one scare, though. He had followed a rabbit one day, and when the rabbit dove into its hole, LT looked around and had no idea where he was. He looked here and there, but couldn’t find any landmarks that he recognized. Maybe it was because it was dark? He didn’t know. LT settled down and decided to wait until daylight to see if he could find his way home.
For days, LT searched and searched, but couldn’t find his home. He was a good hunter, luckily, so he didn’t go hungry, and it had rained enough that he could find fresh water, but he missed his Daddy. Finally, he found an old car that was abandoned, and jumped into it to sleep. He figured that the Daddy would come looking for him. Daddy wouldn’t let LT get lost and not come and find him.
LT stayed in there for two days, leaving the car to hunt and call for his Daddy. He’d almost given up hope when he was awoken from his sleep by the Daddy’s voice. “There you are, LT. I’ve been so worried about you! You’ve been gone for a week. I was afraid that you’d been kidnapped or even killed by some big, strong animal. Come home, LT.” The Daddy lifted him up and gave him a big hug. Placing him on the ground, Daddy called LT to follow him.
As he followed the Daddy through some trees, he found that he hadn’t been far from his house at all. How could he have been this close and not found his home? Well, never mind, he was just happy to be home. It seemed like a good idea to stick close to the Daddy for a while after that episode, but LT’s cat nature called out for exploration. He decided that he needed to systematically map the surrounding woods in his mind, so that he could never get lost again. This took months, but when he was done, he was confident that he couldn’t get lost anywhere that he could run to without getting exhausted. It was worth the effort, because he never wanted to leave the Daddy again.
LT returned to the present and smiled at his Daddy. Life was so good. Not only did he have his Daddy, there were two other cats to keep him company, and a Mommy to take care of all of them. She might be gone right now, but he knew she’d be back, because she loved the Daddy as much as he did, and how could either of them ever leave him forever?
Photo courtesy of Elio - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pansaram/257641756/