The “Old Cat Lady”: A Prophecy My Mother Wishes Never Comes True

The little cat golden and white stood on his hind legs against her human leg. This one appeared yesterday, and it looks exactly like the one my mom calls Manilo, but the littler version. “And he drools over me. Why?! Why is this happening? Only dogs do this.” My mom told me in Spanish over the phone. She was distraught, because the answer she was looking for is not the why. She knows the why, the little one has targeted her as the mom he needs. The answer she is looking for is how can she make this unhappen.

I don’t want the prophecy to come true,” she said.

My mom was never a “cat person”. She didn’t have dogs either, but she preferred them. She saw cats as cold and deceitful creatures, ready to take your eyes out the minute you weren’t looking. No judgement there, that is a common misconception in cat virgins. In a nutshell, my mom was reluctant to have any responsibility for any kind of pet, human or non-human, that means boyfriends too.

For the past year, she have been nurturing and sheltering for a family of black cats. Michu (mee-shoo) the mum; Lylo (lee-lo), the daughter, with black and white skeleton suit; Petrarca (or Petra), the boy, named so at first because his gender was unknown. Trotsky, another boy, named so because it matched his grumpy personality, was my mom’s favorite, until he vanished.

Lylo in the little skeleton suit. Petrarca resting on the floor.

Trotsky was a grumpy cat. He was never willing to share the plate of food with his brother and sister, and would hit his mother over it. He was terrorizing his family. My mom and I would stay at dinner time and look for a way to make this situation better. But he frowned and preferred to starve away in a corner. One day he disappeared. My mom called and called “Trotsky! Trotsky! Come home!”, and nothing. Two days passed. Three days passed. On the fourth day of his disappearance I was delivering some food to the old lady next door when she says: “Ohh! What a stink!”. The air smelled bad indeed. Rotten. Several minutes before, I had seen three unfamiliar dogs running nearby and going towards a hidden place with tall grass and steep terrain. The stink in the air gave me a bad feeling. (I’ve smelt it before. Another story I might share here.) I told my mom Trotsky had left the house because he had a bad attitude. But I believed Trotsky was dead because of his bad attitude, but I never told her this.

Once, I tried to tell her my suspicion, I said: “Mom, I think Trotsky — ”.

“What?!”, she interrupted . “Oh, nothing, that he left because he’s grumpy. Now he gotta look for his own food.”

“I don’t know what to do. I’m having tachycardia at rest”, she continued over the phone. “And now Akira.” Akira is a little black female dog she found lying in the middle of the street one morning as she went to work. She stopped the car, and Akira raised her little, fragile body and limped towards her as if she knew her. “I can’t believe she is alive. Another car would have easily driven over her.” She took her in, and it’s been a week. She lives indoor, and already had her first vet appointment. Akira was named by my grandfather and is Japanese for ‘sun’ or ‘sunlight’. The morning my mom found Akira, the place felt “strange and desolate, no people, no cars, like it never is, and the light was different.”

“Mom. What prophecy?”, I said.

“Some time ago in a family meeting, Ephraim (brother-in-law) said he saw me as an old lady, single, with cats. That is a horrible thing. I don’t want to become that.”

I didn’t see anything wrong with that picture. In my mind, that was delightful. Bunch of furry creatures meowing, no husband. But I understood what she meant.

I may have started the prophecy, when I adopted Tina, the first female cat ever to live in my mom’s house, a kitten found by my friends in the middle of a parking lot and brought her over some days later. Tina was named by my mom. She was a tortoiseshell cat and looked like a raccoon. The house was marked from then on. (If that’s the case, I’m sorry, mom!)

You see, my mom is a delicate soul. She has suffered plenty for the animals she has taken care of, and have died or disappeared with no explanation. She has cried and written poems for Sam, a yellow street dog she sheltered, but was poisoned by a neighbor who hated animals. I saw Sam last, my mom was not home that day. He was drooling profusely, and never wagged the tail, as he normally did. He came to say goodbye, because after that he disappeared into the woods, and the body was never found.

She cried with me when she found Tina, dead in the middle of the backyard where she wasn’t supposed to be, as she didn’t respond to my calling on the morning of January 7. She wrapped and held Tina in her arms as we went down by the almond tree to bury her. The morning of Tina’s death there was a stink too, like dead rats. It was hard to overcome, but my mom understood my loss.

When Tina died, Michu was already around the house unofficially, but was pregnant and sick. My mom nurtured her back to health with goat’s milk and honey to drink, and coconut oil and antibiotics on the open wound of her leg.

“The little one cries for me through the windows. I wish this wasn’t happening”, she said. “We’ll take care of it, I’ll help you as much as I can”, I told her. And I will help her as much as I can through the use of the web and the Internet, and every resource I find here or there, as I live in another country.

All I know is that the prophecy is wrong. It is an old lady, single, with cats, and a little black female dog named Akira.

I am Ura Benjamin, and I’m exploring writing to the public.