An inane tale of a cat named Astrophy - click here for the illustrated version (79K)

When I was growing up, I never ever dreamed of having a pet cat. In fact, I didn't care much about animals and never thought that I could share my habitat with a feline. My children, on the other hand, grew up wanting a cat and had kept their wish under control because, ever since they were small, they had heard about my dislike of having animals in the house. However, this apparent respect they had for me vanished the day we found a litter of kittens in our abandoned backyard composter. Little did I know that three mewing kittens can sway my children into going all out to realize their dream. Equally surprising was the diligence with which they took care of the kittens for three weeks before we found homes for two of them. As for the third kitten, well, you guessed it!!!!

Not only did I have to give in and let my children adopt it, but I was also roped into caring for and sharing my living space with the most nonchalant species of all the domesticated animals.... the cat! At first we had to find a suitable name for this helpless mewer. For me, there was no doubt that adopting this cat was a compromise at best and a disaster at worst. I reckoned that on the plus side, the process of taking care of a helpless creature would teach my children responsibility. In the worst case scenario, I guessed that either I or Tim would have to do some or all of the work when the novelty wore off. Being a cautious optimist, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. I wanted to capture my mixed feelings in the name I gave this all-too-innocent-looking kitten. Astrophy came to mind because if you put the title 'cat' in front of Astrophy, and say it quickly, cat Astrophy, it sounds like catastrophe, which is what the entire process of adopting a cat was, for me.

My children were suspicious of the name Astrophy and gave the kitten their own appellation, Smokestone, because the kitten was dark grey. The kitten is now a one-year-old cat. Though he has a mind of his own, he respects my space and keeps out of my way. He plays and amuses us when he is in the mood and lets us know when he wants to be left alone.

A couple of weeks ago, a strange thing happened. Astrophy was crouching on our front lawn. He seemed to be stalking something on the road. The object on which he was about to pounce was a dead sparrow in the middle of the road. The sparrow was positioned in the strangest way for a dead bird. It seemed like the bird was sitting down and pecking something on the road. And here was Astrophy. Swish swash went his tail in anticipation. He was scratching the lawn with his hind legs, preparing for the pounce. All of a sudden he lunged at the bird and grabbed it in his mouth and turned around. It is then that he saw me, having been unaware that I was watching the 'kill' from a distance. He ran into the alley next to our house, dropped the bird, and sat there with it firmly under his paws. I knew that the next step was de-feathering and eating the bird. I didn't want to watch the scene anymore, so I left the mighty hunter to enjoy his 'kill' in complete privacy and went into the house.

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All text and images on this page © Meher Shaik 2003 - posted by tim dot dickinson at utoronto dot ca