Our Mysterious Shadow

One day Misha came home from his school with a look of excitement on his face. His back pack seemed very large and he was holding it extra carefully. Misha had to bicycle to school as it was quite a long way away. He couldn't,t make it home for lunch. I was quite intrigued, and urged Misha to let me in on the news so to speak. He put the pack down and opened it. Out peeked a jet black head. "Oh dear". I thought. Another cat. Yes it definitely was. Misha eagerly and pleadingly told the story. It seemed that the black kitten had been hanging around the school, scrounging lunches and generally fitting in quite well. But of course this could not go on. A cat needs a home. This one did not appear to have one. One of the teachers urged the students to find him a home. Misha could not resist, and here he was, a black cat of about eight months old. Definitely a male, and quite handsome with all that sleek black fur and yellow eyes.

I made a slight protest but it is hard to turn the needy cat away. At that time we only had Junior the boys cat. Junior was Dana's age. Muff was no longer with us. We did not get another Siamese until Daisy came along. It gets hard to remember this all exactly. Junior was not happy having another male in the house. Generally two males or two females do not get on all that well. As Junior was already nine, I used to say to Shadow, "You are younger, so one day you will be top cat " Misha named him Shadow and we all agreed that the name suited him well. We took him to the Vet. for all the usual things and he settled in. Sort of.

Shadow had not been Kitty box trained, and as we kept him in for a few days to get him bonded with us and the house, I had some surprises every morning. He had diligently dug holes in the planters of our large house plants and carefully used these as his kitty box. Well I did my damnedest to get him to use the box, but to no avail. Once we felt he could go out, he did fine, but he never used the box. It seems they must learn very young or it is just no good

Shadow took a while to realize that this is now home. He would go off with anybody and stay at the house he arrived at until a phone call would alert us to the fact that Shadow was out there and did not seem to want to come home. He would be brought home and the next day another incident would occur. Once he vanished for an entire long weekend. I had searched everywhere, even the local elementary school that Dana attended. But by the time I got over there it was all locked up. I wondered about the school as a possible place, as that evening the school had had a Carnival on. So we searched elsewhere and Tuesday came and I sent Dana off to school with instructions to ask around about Shadow. So when I came home from work about 1 p.m. I found Dana and his friend Fiaz and Shadow all lined up on the front doorstep. I was so happy to see him. It seemed he had somehow entered the school the night of the carnival and had been locked in. Someone found him wandering down the halls. Dana took him over and came home at lunch time with him. Poor little Shadow had been so hungry he had eaten an entire chocolate bar. I think it was an Aero bar. Amazing. Later I wondered if he had caught any mice, as schools are full of the little rodents as I found out when teaching Yoga. I had a class that was at night in a high school canteen. I was just giving relaxation. All the participants were lying quietly on their mats, when I noticed the skittering along the edges of the room. After that I spotted the mice in just about every school I had a class at. So it is possible Shadow had a few rodents to keep him going from Friday night until Tuesday morning. Eventually Shadow learned that we were home and he became quite a cat about the house.

He had a very strict routine, that took him out after breakfast to tour the neighborhood, visit his various haunts and be home in time for dinner. As we had a cat door he could go out at night. Until we became aware of Coyotes . Then we locked the cat door at night. He did not seem to mind when we started doing that. Maybe he knew it was dangerous out there at night.

One summer we went to three different locations for our holidays. We would arrive at each place and Shadow would freak out. At the first place, our friends were waiting for us to arrive and get settled and then would head out on their holiday. We were housesitting. They had a rather rambunctious dog that got out just as we were freeing Shadow, Daisy and Junior from our van. Well , Shadow took of into the bush and up a tree. It was very prickly around the tree, so we just left Shadow and sure enough he came down eventually and behaved as if such an embarrassing incident had not occurred. Two weeks later we headed down to Victoria on a house exchange. Shadow goes out into the back garden of this house we were now in and pops over the fence to the yard next door. Immediately he is treed by two eager poodles. The poodles got put inside and Shadow came down with great dignity. He did not venture into that yard again. Two weeks later we are whizzing down the highway heading for our final holiday destination, Ladysmith. My sister and her husband were going sailing for two weeks and we and the three cats would take care of her 4 cats and house. Shadow did not travel too well and we only had one cat basket in those days. Shadow actually sat on my head as I hurtled down the Malahat drive at about 100 kilometers an hour. Needless to say I acquired another cat carrier quite soon after that. Anyway we got to Ladysmith and took our three into the house. Diane's four, Titus, his sister Fuschia, and one other ganged up on him and he bolted from the house into the bush. I by now was not too perturbed by this and just called occasionally and waited. The house was on 10 acres of quite treed property so he couldn't be found if he did not want to be. Well he stayed away three nights and just as I and the family were really getting worried he sashayed in at breakfast and determined to stay, settled in without any more to do. The odd thing was that Daisy and Shadow took all this moving in their stride and did not in anyway seem about to get chased, treed or lost.

Shadow had a propensity for trouble. One day a nieghbour came to the door to tell me that Shadow was up the telephone pole. All the way to the top he was, and not showing any signs of coming down. It took a very long ladder to get to him and I got to be the one to go up. Shadow took quite a bit of persuading, but at last he got on my shoulder and I started down the ladder. He dug in the claws and got a bit difficult but at last he jumped the rest of the way. I always wondered if he had been chased up the pole by a dog or even one of those ever elusive, rarely seen Coyotes.

As Shadow got older the friction between him and Junior increased. Junior spent a lot of time trying to prevent Shadow from getting to the food bowl. He found sitting at the top of the stairs at the junction of the living room and kitchen put him in a strategic position. Shadow would just jump over Junior when he got hungry enough. Also sitting by the cat door and just getting in the way was a good way of keeping Shadow on his toes. Sometimes a bit of a spat would occur and poor Shadow would get quite stressed out. But he had a good home and life is never perfect. The stress caused Shadow to spray in the house, which was a trial. If Dana or Misha left anything on the floor like a pack or sweater it got peed on. Shadow could not resist. Well it trained those boys to not leave things lying around!

Shadow enjoyed a lovely summer on Savary Island. The first time we went there we left Daisy, Shadow and Junior with the house sitter. But the following year we took the cats. Shadow practically disappeared apart from meals. But when the good weather finally cracked up, Shadow was to be found reclining in the best chair.

Shadow was more or less Misha,s cat. He would take Shadow for night walks and says that Shadow would go anywhere with no sign of fatigue. This was before the Coyotes became so noticeable.

Shadow was the kind of cat that would attack you suddenly for no apparent reason. Some cats it seems are easily over stimulated and get excited and then chomp! He was very prone to feet attacks. If he happened to be near your bare feet he would suddenly glom on to them. Quite painful. He hated being groomed and in those days before Program and Advantage we had quite a flea problem. So with Shadow being impossible to bathe I had to take him to the Vets to be put out while shampooed. I probably got his teeth cleaned at that time also. What a relief it is now to be flea free. Those pesky fleas can cause a lot of problems.

Shadow gave us a fright once when he fell off of a table and seemed to have broken his hip. He cried pitifully and dragged himself around in a very pathetic manner. I phoned the vet. who after asking pertinent questions advised that we wait a bit before bringing him in as it was highly unlikely he had broken anything. Cats it seems are very strong and it would take a car or something like that to break a bone. And sure enough in and hour or so he suddenly recovered himself and was fine again. A bit of hysteria it seems. Shadow was an extremely healthy cat and the shiny fur and glowing yellow eyes made him a pleasure to see. What an amazing cat. The war between him and Junior changed a bit as Junior got older. Shadow realized that Junior was deaf an d he could sneak by him. He would even try to get a bit aggressive but Junior always had his big size on his side and he could psych out any cat.

Shadow did not get to be the top cat as Junior outlived them all. But Shadow had a good home and a little friction did not seem to do him any harm.

Misha now has a lovely one eyed cat called Baghera. He is a chocolate point Siamese. Misha often reminisces about Shadow our mysterious cat.