It’s been 9 days since I last saw Ming-Ming. Our pullet, Nugget was stalking her on my mother-in-law’s lawn. Ming was just hanging out, laying in the late afternoon fall sunshine, watching the rest of the hens when Nugget decided that she wasn’t having it- there would be no cats allowed. So, puffing up her little 6-month old body, she fluffed her feathers out and hopped at Ming. Not once, but twice. Hop. HOP! Ming, being ever the peace-keeper as well as the “Welcome Ambassador” for all new comers to our family, quietly backed up and jumped the garden fence to watch from a distance. Nugget was mollified and continued on her way.
When I realized she was missing and hadn’t been in, I went for the heavy artillery (aka ‘banging the plate’). It’s a simple process and has always stood me in good stead when either Ming-Ming or Moses would shoot past me out onto the deck after “lights out”. It was how I would entice them back inside. Wet cat food on a plate. Knife placed at an approximent 45* angle. Strike sharply. Several times. You also holler the transgressor’s respective name. It always, always worked. But not that night. And not the next.
I have had cats since I was 7 or 8 years old. I have never once had to put one down. I’ve never been allowed to say “good-bye” and thank them for their years of purring, comfort, and companionship. They have left. I’ve heard cats do that. Yes, we live in a wooded area. Yes, we have coyotes and things that go bump-in-the-night. But even when Miss Ming managed to escape bed check and remain out to party on a night or two- I knew she slept above the chicken pen. (We put a packing blanket up there when we saw the cat hair evidence… just to make it comfy, in case it happened again.) She never ranged far. She was in the yard, or near the barn, or in the woodshed. Always within calling distance. So I know the enemy didn’t get her. I have to believe that, otherwise, it would wreak havoc on my heart…
Ming-Ming was 9-years old. I keep looking for her- listening for her big ol’ paw scratching on the door. Waiting to see her laying across the picnic table, soaking up the rays. Missing her keen observation as I sew, and the gentle pat, pat of her pot holder paw as I attempt to thread the needle. A gentle, sweet soul. I should have been allowed to say “thank you” and “good-bye”.