Last night while Paul and I were eating dinner and watching just one more episode of Battlestar Galactica, we heard a horrible sound.  Over the TV, from outside, somewhere deep in the forest down towards the creek, came a sound like a child’s scream.  I immediately ran to the window and signaled Paul to turn down the volume.  I heard it again, only this time it sounded like a cat screaming. Not like a cat fight, but like a cat being attacked and killed by another animal.  It was utterly chilling.

We both ran outside, and my heart was racing as I thought, “Junebug, Junebug, Junebug.”

Junebug has been with me for about 10 months now.  I got her from a rescue in town.  I’ve had Lola for more than 6 years, and although I’m an all around animal lover, I had started to feel that maybe I had become a ‘dog person.’  But when I moved back to the dome, the place was literally crawling with mice.  I mean it was gross.  They had infested the walls, treated the pantry like a grocery store, and made the house smell musty and unclean.  Lola is absolutely no good at hunting anything.  So I had to get a cat.

I held back for a month or two.  I was nervous about adding another pet to little world Lola and I had together.  I felt sad and somehow disloyal for the fact that this new creature would outlive Lola, as though I was replacing her already.  I know that is slightly ridiculous, but that’s how I felt.

Anyway, when a mouse brazenly walked (and I mean walked, strolled, not scurried) across the kitchen floor one night, I realized it just had to be done.  I went out to get a kitty.

There were lots of adorable kittens at the rescue, and some charming adult cats too.  I was trying to find a cat that would stand up to Lola, but not be afraid of her.  I wanted a hunter obviously, and a shorthair.  Other than that I had no preconceived notion of what this kitty would be like.  I think I met every single kitty there, mostly at the urging of the rescue volunteer who was helping me. “What about this one? This one is one of my favorites,” etc.  On and on. As we walked back and forth through the room and past the cages, one older kitten, a shorthair seal grey with funny tortoise shell markings kept reaching through the bars of her cage at me, meowing and flirting, trying to get my attention.  I politely followed the volunteer and met each cat she presented to me, but finally I had to ask, “What about that one?”  “Oh,” she said, “Yes, she’s been here a long time now. She is a little wild so we don’t recommend her to be around children.”  “Okay…” I said, “Well I don’t have any children. Can I meet her?” The volunteer agreed, but seemed disappointed, as she had clearly been hoping I would adopt another kitty she particularly liked.

When I picked up the cat who was to become my Junebug, the first thing she did was grab onto my face with her paws and start licking me. She wouldn’t let me go. And that was it. She was clearly my kitty. Even the volunteer was resigned.  “Well there you go,” she said. “I guess she’s yours.”

Junebug is a little wild, but she is the perfect cat for the ranch.  She loves Lola, follows her everywhere, loves to wrestle with her, and in quiet moments will sit and lick her face, holding on like she did to me that first day.  She and Lola are my constant companions when I am out doing things on the ranch.  She is a real talker, but she still has a tiny kitten meow than just melts your heart. I thought I was a dog person, but I totally and completely love this cat. Oh, and she is a great mouser, and lizarder, and birder, and even batter.

So last night, when I thought for sure I had just heard her last, terrified moments, I felt gutted.  By the time I got outside and down the path with my flashlight, the forest was quiet.  Whatever had happened, I hadn’t made it in time to stop it.  I was crying and shaking.  My little Bug.  Eventually Paul and I had to turn and go back to the house.  We weren’t going to find anything in the huge forest in the dark of night.

And, as I turned the flashlight back toward the house, I saw her.  Perfectly intact, unharmed, maybe a little freaked out, but obviously not because she had been the cat who made that scream. More likely because she had also heard it.  You cannot imagine my relief.  Oh man.

So, today’s post is dedicated to the magnificent Junebug, who did not meet her end last night. Please be careful out there, kitty.  I don’t know what I would do without you.

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photo by Wayne Olts

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