“The Cookie Store Cat” by Cynthia Rylant is the story of a homeless cat (not tragically) who is well fed by a small community’s bakers. Shop to shop, he travels in search of food. Soon, one particular baker, the dessert baker, takes it upon himself to adopt the kitty. It’s pretty heart-warming.
Ok, so I won’t begin to extrapolate some moral impact I received from this favorite childhood story, nor will I say that I carry the cat’s triumph with me every time I face a challenge. However, there is something very familiar about this story.
An old cat of mine named Copper was discovered by my parents at a gas station in Oklahoma. This isn’t exactly the most glamorous of adoption stories, but man was he a special cat. Soon after his addition to our household, we moved to Kansas. Just like the cat in this story, he would go house to house, every morning on our block to say hello to our neighbors and their cats. We didn’t starve this kitty, I’d like to add. He didn’t meander around for any desperate hand-outs. Copper was a very human-like orange tabby cat. He’d walk around, every morning, just to say hello and get a few scratches behind the ear. He also had a group of friends that he would bring to our front porch. In the evening one day, he stood behind the front screen-door and motioned towards the house. “This is my place, pretty nice, right?,” he seemed to meow. Just like the bakers in the story, all of our neighbors enjoyed his company. As we were planning our move to College Station many moons ago, three of our neighbors approached us to say, “we’ll keep Copper if you need that. Y’know, if he can’t make the move.”
Maybe this book did teach me how special animals really can be. Copper ran away one evening a few years after we moved to College Station. On Wednesday August 30, 2006 he disappeared. For weeks we theorized about where he went and feared that a coyote might have gotten him. I never believed that for a second though. We had him for as long as we needed him, for as long as he needed to impart his charming wisdom on us. I don’t think he became a vagabond wandering the alleys of College Station. Instead, I think he chose another place to settle down. Not because he didn’t love us anymore, but because he knew that he could have an impact on someone new.