The Day Little-Bit Won

I’ve written about Jack before.  Our cat, the one pet that has been with us for years. We tend to have rotten luck with pets.  Ironic, because we hardly had any of the trouble with our chickens and rabbits back in the day. “Traditional” pets, though, tend to stay with us only a short time.  Jack is happily the exception.  Orange and white, with a bobbed tail and a full-grown tiger attitude, he tolerates the lowly humans that we are because we scratch him on his neck and give him food.  Beyond that, he has little use for the adults and tolerates the children little more.

Little Bit is our accidental rescue.  When we moved into our valley house years ago, we discovered a family of feral cats.  Bret set a trap to catch the mother and kittens so that we could safely relocate them and they would no longer be in our crawl space to wreak havoc on our home’s ductwork. He was successful with all but the fastest, most suspicious – enter Little Bit.  She was too small to survive on her own, so the Princess, the Buddy & I fed her and caught her with the intentions of giving her to someone else.  With her perfect silky-soft raven-black coat and sparkling green eyes, we just knew a fellow animal lover would wish to keep her.  Alas, no.  In fact, that is how she received her name.  It was the moniker given to her to avoid naming the animal I would NOT keep.  Joke’s on me, because here she is years later complete with a no-name name.

Jack has aged, and he now descends upon humankind as an ornery and aloof master seeking praise from his chosen peasants.  Until he goes outside, then he miraculously transforms into what he thinks is a mighty tiger keeping the back yard safe from vicious jungle prey such as moles and lizards.  In reality he is too clumsy of a hunter to catch anything but these and the occasional bird (once every year or so).  Little Bit wrote the textbook definition of the term scaredy-cat.  She’s too afraid to come inside and too afraid to hang out on the back patio unless there’s only one humankind present.  She will sit on the patio table and watch all the neighborhood cats eat her food rather than stand up for herself.

I’ve now introduced the players, let’s talk about the game.

One beautiful Southern spring morning I chose the patio table for my morning devotional routine. I’ve enjoyed the lengthier time I can give it with the stay at home protocol in place, and Little Bit likes having the one human on the back porch to hang with.  She was, true to form, hiding behind my grow bags (victory gardens for the win).  Jack came sauntering over in his lordly tiger stance, and she silently sailed over my sprouting veggies and tapped him on the hip as if to say, “Tag! You’re it!”  Jack, while concentrating on his aloof image, was too self-absorbed to notice her until the tap.  His entire body immediately poofed, he jumped about a foot and a half into the air, hissed, and retreated faster than I’ve ever witnessed him do so.  Meanwhile, I was laughing hysterically at how my sweet little silken scaredy-cat won the upper hand with the aloof lord of the castle.  Jack’s reaction scared Little Bit, of course, and she also ran to hide.

The whole scenario brings to mind a classic quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  I’ve watched those two play tag many times before, and I’m sure that Little Bit was trying to start another round of their favorite game.  Her plans were only hampered by her success in surprising Jack.  I love the lessons I can learn from animals, because it did remind me that, even when the unforeseen happens, I can take a minute, think it through, do a little course correction to compensate for life’s changes, and keep moving forward.  Here’s to hoping you have a good time “playing tag” today!

Bethany

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