Panther, True Tales I

Posted: November 28, 2016 in Panther, True Tales
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When Feline and Human First Meet…

It was the end of September 2014. I had been working for a couple of months at a pet supply store primarily processing stock. It was a job I felt miserable at, the work was not an issue and my performance was solid but I found no enjoyment in it. I found getting up in the morning on days I had to work to be a chore, the hours at the shop seemed to drag on and on.

It was not a good time in my life. My mind was consumed by self doubt and it felt like I was being overrun by darkness and despair. I wasn’t used to feeling this way about my job, I had always enjoyed what I did so this was new to me.

I had just finished a two day break, which was a rarity at this place. Like most retail employers these people believed that their employees should be honoured to have a job with them and they couldn’t be bothered to show their employees the courtesy of providing two days off in a row. It did sometimes happen by accident. I had spent this particular lucky accident convincing myself that two months was too short a time to decide you didn’t like a job. You should always give yourself at least a full three months to acclimate to a new job.

I arrived at work at quarter to five that morning. I liked to show up to work early, lateness bothers me to a ridiculous degree. So I would show up early despite the fact that one of the morning managers tended to arrive late on a regular basis. I was expecting to wait outside of the store for quite some time as she happened to be the manager scheduled with me that morning.

I was wrong. She was waiting for me when I arrived.

I found myself inside the store that Sunday morning with fifteen minutes to kill. It was an odd state to be in, my regular routine was to start working immediately and leave when my shift was done. There was never time for anything else.

A visit to the cats seemed to be in order. Up to this point I had only taken a glance at them as I’d come and gone from work. One of the reasons I had applied to work at this store was because they dealt exclusively with rescued cats. There were cats of varying breeds and ages kept with us. They all had their own back stories; some happy, some sad, but all needing a second chance. I haven’t always liked the people representing the rescue organizations but I respected what they were trying to accomplish.

My mind was considering the rescue organization we dealt with at the time as I approached the aquarium-like room where the cats were kept. All thoughts but one fled from my mind as I arrived at the door.

Who is that?’ I thought as I stepped through the door. In the upper cage right in front of the door was a black cat with bright yellow eyes. He had raised himself up on his hind legs as he watched me approach and rested his front paws against the cage bars. His ears were turned in my direction and his overall look seemed to mirror my own fascination.

His name was Panther, according to his biography, and he was approximately one and a half years old. He had been found as a stray and taken in by the rescue. He had a mild case of cerebellar hypoplasia, brain damage due to an infection his mother had gotten while pregnant with him. It would not cause him any health issues, they assured on his data sheet, it just meant that he would be a bit clumsy.

Nice to meet you Panther,” I offered as I turned my attention back to the black cat.

He had sat down while I had been reading his card. His poise was perfect as he sat in his cage. His bright eyes watched me attentively as I took a closer look at him. This cat had short hair as black as could be. If you looked close enough you could find a rare follicle of white hair but they were always solitary in nature. He was as close to a pure black cat as you could ever hope to find.

But time had escaped me. I hadn’t even glanced at another cat, my attention had been totally captured by this dark furred feline sitting before me like a perfect gentleman. This magnificent black Tom who seemed as taken by me as I was by him had stolen my admiration.

I had no desire for a pet. I somehow had managed to get this job based solely on stories of animals from my past. My last pet had been a beautiful Russian Blue cat who had passed away at the age of fourteen. I had gotten her as a kitten and she had been my constant companion. Her favoured habit was to curl up and sleep on my chest while I lay on my couch watching TV. Her death had devastated me. I had made the decision shortly after her passing to not have another pet. It had been ten years and I had never regretted the decision.

Yet today I could barely focus on my work. All I could think of was those bright yellow eyes sizing me up. That black furred body sitting so calmly and perfectly as we checked each other out. That look of fascination that was echoed in both our faces when we first met. I couldn’t shake the feeling of an instant connection with this handsome feline gentleman.

During the latter half of my shift I pleaded with my roommate to allow me to add this being to our home. He reluctantly agreed and I spent the rest of my shift absolutely giddy.

Alas, it was not to be.

I went to the cat cages in order to start the adoption process and my heart broke. Someone else had laid claim to him and on his cage was a sign that read: “Adoption Pending.”

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