Panther, True Tales III

Posted: December 12, 2016 in Panther, True Tales

The Gentleman Gets A New Home…

The trip home was only about a fifteen minute affair, reasonably short for most people. Panther did not fall into the most category.

The calmness he tended to exhibit was completely lost to him. He did not like confined spaces. He did not like riding in automobiles. The combination of the two was completely unacceptable and he made sure everyone in the car knew it. He was inconsolable, no amount of my reassurances of “It’s going to be alright, buddy,” or “We’re almost there. Not long now,” could make an impact on his loud, mournful yowling. This was going to be the end of him, he knew it and he wanted us to know he knew it.

Things turned out not to be quite as dire as Panther believed and after a bit of discomfort he had arrived at his new home. The pain was over and the fun was about to begin.

I lived with a roommate in a single bedroom apartment at the time. My roommate resided in the bedroom while I survived on a futon in the living room. Off the hallway between the living room and the bedroom was a larder almost a third of the size of the bedroom. This larder was to be converted into a room for Panther. He was to have access to every inch of the apartment with the exception of the bedroom.

You can have a cat,” my roommate agreed, “but he’s not allowed in my room.” He paused a bit, “He can come in my room but he can’t be on the bed.” Good, simple rule. Within five minutes of the two meeting Panther was curled up in the middle of the forbidden bed looking very pleased with himself.

You know he’s in your room right?” I offered from the doorway.

Uh-huh,” came the reply. My roommate sat at his desk, his back to me, his focus on his computer screen.

He’s also on your bed,” I continued with my tattling.

He’s quiet. He can stay for now,” came the reply.

That being settled I went back to preparing his room. The one wall, opposite the door, was blocked by comic boxes. Small cardboard boxes piled four high set against the wall held my sequential art treasures I had amassed over the past thirty plus years. Beneath the shelves, to the right of the door, were empty boxes that came with my computer hardware and accessories. There was still a small amount of space between the boxes and the bottom of the lowest shelf. The bottom shelf was filled up with PC game boxes. The top shelf of the two housed my Rock Band and Guitar Hero boxes mixed in with a handful of swords.

This left half the floor space for Panther’s use. To the left of the entrance to the room was where I places a rectangular covered litter box which I filled with a cat litter that was made from crushed walnuts. The mix I used was scent free and masked the urine odour almost completely. To the right of the door I placed his food and water dishes.

The carrier I had used to bring him home was placed in the bedroom.

I can’t get him out of my room and he’s climbing all over everything,” my roommate interrupted my examination of the cat’s room.

With a nap under his belt Panther was now ready to explore his new domain. He was climbing on anything he could while he examined his new boundaries. It was the climbing over my roommate’s computer desk that got the cat’s bedroom privileges revoked.

Come here, Panther,” I called from the door. He dutifully came as called and I swept him up while my roommate closed the bedroom door. “You can explore the rest of the apartment,” I said as I put the squirming feline down.

It was apt timing as my phone went off announcing the reception of a text. I was expecting a friend I hadn’t seen in a bit. She had been working in the oil fields up north and tended to be gone for weeks at a time. We had made plans to get together before the adoption of Panther had opened up and I saw no reason to cancel. It would have been weeks before we had another chance to connect if we didn’t get together today. The text was from her to let me know she’d arrived.

I left Panther to his own devices and slipped down to the front door of the building. It was my preference to let people in this way. It felt more polite to greet people at the main door than to have them wander the building’s hallways by themselves. Sometimes this approach leads to pleasant surprises, this was one of those times.

I bought pizza and beer,” she declared as she displayed the offerings, “did you get the cat?”

I did indeed. He’s getting used to his new home.”

We discussed work and current events in our lives as we wandered back to the apartment. We hadn’t managed to catch each other the last couple of times she had gotten back to town so there was a lot of gossip to catch up on.

Ancient Aliens?” I proposed. “ I just picked up season six.” Ancient Aliens was our back drop for most of our visits. We discussed our lives and in between topics watched and discussed pieces of the show. It was definitely a big part of my favourite way to socialize; booze, television that made you think, and smart conversation.

I put the pizza on the kitchen counter, set the beer in the fridge and popped the DVD into the player. I watched as my friend gushed over my ebony cat, she snapped some pictures on her phone as she followed him around the apartment.

Is he okay?” she asked.

He was bouncing around the apartment, running from room to room. He was over-stimulated. He wanted to see everything, to check out every nook and cranny, and he wanted to do it all at once. He climbed on everything he could, stuck his nose into every cave he found, and attempted to move anything he could. He would come to me when I called his name and give me a quick sniff before taking off again to continue his frantic explorations.

We spent the evening chatting, eating, drinking and filling our minds with theories about ancient astronauts.. Throughout it all Panther kept moving with lightening speed from one point to another, his mind constantly distracted by a new space he saw in the corner of his eye that just had to be examined immediately.

Are you sure he’s alright?” my friend asked later that night as she was preparing to go home. It had been hours and Panther hadn’t even slowed down yet. He had even managed to add rattling the plastic blinds that covered the balcony windows to his repertoire. Visit every inch of the apartment, rattle the blinds, repeat.

He’ll relax. He just wants to get to know his new home,” I responded no longer as sure as I had been earlier. “He is, at heart, a predator. He has to know his environment one hundred percent or he won’t be very efficient at what he does.”

I had to work the next morning and three o’clock does truly sneak up on you after an evening of drinking. As much as I would have liked to stay awake until Panther had calmed down I still had to pay the rent so I still had to go to work. One more day of work and then I’d have a day I could devote to him.

As I got myself ready to go to bed I began to worry. I had been so focused on bringing this cat home and now he just seemed unable to relax. Had I been wrong? Was it possible that I had just decided that he must be as fascinated by me as I was by him? Could it be that he didn’t like me? That he didn’t like the apartment?

I felt heartbroken. This had never occurred to me as a potential possibility. Watching his frantic pacing through the apartment I had to wonder.

I lay down on my futon, dropping my head on my pillow. There was nothing I could do about it at that moment. I would wait until after my day off and see how things sat then. In the meantime I would hope the cat didn’t get too stressed out by his new circumstances. With that settled, I laid on my back, took a deep breath, and closed my eyes.

My eyelids had barely closed when I felt small paws land on my chest. To my surprise and delight Panther started rubbing his face all across my chin. Loud purring erupted out of his chest. My worries evaporated in an instant as he displayed his approval.

Good choice,” he seemed to say, “I approve.”


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