Jade - The Blind Cat of the Chases

All was darkness when I felt my mama’s rough tongue helping me into the world. She pushed me to her milk and I felt warm, delicious liquid in my tiny belly. My brother and two sisters scrambled for their portion as we lay protected in her embrace. I felt the energy flow as we ate and fell asleep to my mama’s constant purr. It was like the sound of love to me. I never wanted to leave her side.  Yet, she would move us in her great jaws, picking me up like a little sack. I never protested, because she always found a better place, where, as I grew I could play with the others but still hear her purr.

My brother was about my size and we tussled mightily as we grew. He would try to sneak up behind me, but, although I couldn’t see, I always heard the titter of his tiny paws rustling through the stones as he prepared to pounce.
My mama taught me everything. She told me I was different, but, although I was born blind, I would be stronger for it. She explained what shapes were by licking my head for a circle. She licked my tail to show me a straight line. She would drag me in her mouth to feel the rocks, grass and pavement (where I never was to go). When we lay in the heat, she explained how our beautiful star would warm our bodies during the day when we slept. It was almost as pleasurable to lay in the sun as it was in my mama’s arms. Sometimes I wouldn’t stir until my brother would pounce on me and scold that it was dinnertime.

Hunting was another thing entirely. I was a natural. mama brought small insects and rodents already dead to us to sniff and play with. My sense of smell was quickly developing. I soon was able to figure out what she was bringing home when she was some distance away. My brother and sister would always ask, “What is it?” I was never wrong. I could hear her coming way before the others, too. When they would still be sleeping in the brush, I would hear her steadily trot through the grasses. I was always wide awake when she arrived.

One day she didn’t come back. I waited while the others slept. When they woke, we all sat and cried. It was deep in the night – cold and damp. No matter how we huddled together, we still shivered. I would jump at every sound, but, she didn’t appear. Then we all heard it. Something or things were crashing through the bushes. There was a jumble of noise, like crows all cawing at once. Then the noise stopped.

The next day, mama was still gone. We all ventured out, trying to find her. Nothing close to her sweet smell came to us, but, a very tantalizing scent was right in our path. My brother and sisters ran to the food as fast as they could. I stood back and heard a clanging sound and their pitiful mews. They told me they were unable to get out of the cave they had ran into. They couldn’t get through the cold walls. They said there were openings, but, none were large enough. I cried with them and waited until I heard something crashing through the bushes again.

The high-pitched sounds returned, although they didn’t sound as dangerous. They were cooing and making mews like my brother and sisters. I didn’t make a move. I hid in the bushes as I heard my brothers and sisters leave with the sounds. I found myself totally alone. I was so afraid. In my darkness, I heard and smelt everything. I couldn’t sleep. My stomach was empty. I finally cried myself into a deep, fitful sleep.

When I woke, I was with my mama and my brothers and sisters! The crashing noises where everywhere, but, Mama was calm. She let me know the ‘humans’ had taken her. The ‘humans’ were caring for her. She had a lot of experience with these creatures and, although, I didn’t understand, I was content to. I was so happy to be drinking my Mama’s warm milk again, I didn’t care. She told me to listen carefully to the sounds they made. If I heard loud and angry sounds, I should hiss and spit. If they were cooing sounds, I could cautiously listen. But, I hiss and spit no matter what sounds they made.

We were there for a long time it seemed; until one day my mama was taken away. I looked for her all over the small area I was confined in. I knew my brother and sisters were doing better with the ‘humans’, but, I didn’t like them no matter how hard I tried. They didn’t smell or sound good to me. They didn’t seem to want to touch me, and made guttural sounds when they were near me. I would hiss and spit with all my might.

Then the day came. I felt the warmth of the sun, and grass under my feet. I lifted my head as high as I could and took a deep, long draw of fresh air filled with scents of the woods. They were very close. I learned a lot during the time my Mama was caring for me with the humans. She told me stories of how to navigate in the woods if I ever found myself there again. Here was my chance. I ran so fast, I could barely feel the grass on my paws. I heard nothing following at first, and then, in the distance, a wail. They realized I was gone.

Nothing could stop me from looking for mama. They were hunting through the brush, but, I had found a deep, empty rabbit burrow and heard their steps nearby. I hunkered down real low and soon, they gave up.

I never found my Mama. I looked for two seasons, through the cold season and the warm season. I learned all the pathways of the woods and bog I found myself in by smell and touch. Even when I was sleeping my senses were alert. It was during the second warm season when I found the Place of Bones. I heard small footsteps of a human and the scent of a cat newly dead. It was a female human. She was speaking low and sounded sad as I heard her move the earth. She said some words and then she left. I went to the newly dug earth and smelt the cat’s body. It was an old cat, I could smell his age. It was a long time before I moved. I hadn’t been near a cat, alive or dead, for a very long time.  

I made my burrow under a rock in that place, and listened as the human with the soft, calm voice would come every now and then. Sometimes she carried a cat and buried her. Others times she would bring lavender flowers and sage and lay it on the graves. I was never afraid of this human. One time, I followed her footsteps as she left. She lived in the wooden cave I had found months before. It was an easy run from the Place of Bones. Many trails led directly to and from both places. I learned every one of them.

One day, after a time of hunger, I let my sense lapse. I was head-down, eating a mole I had just caught when I felt my body lifted and squeezed. It was a hound. The wild dogs that roamed the area were usually easy to outwit, but, here I was, in the jaws of one! I went limp for one moment and the dog relaxed. I twisted with all my might and grabbed his nose with both front claws. He yelped so loud I thought if there were dead dogs around, they would jump out of their graves. When he screamed, I wiggled free of his grip and ran zig zag across the bogs so fast he was still pawing at his bloodied nose before he knew I was gone!

With that event behind me, I took greater care than ever. I learned where the easiest trees to climb were situated. I practiced every which way until I knew the paths by touch. I was fast, lean, and my senses were at their best. I was Jade, the Blind Cat of the woods and bog known as the Chases! 

'Jade' by KY Cady @2014


Moxie and the Whirlaways

In 'The Chases', the boggy field of abandoned houses, between the mighty Lange River and Abbottsford Road is an old cottage that had been known as 'The Whirlaways' by previous owners. A middle-aged homeless woman, Renelle, has taken up residence in this dilapidated house. Dreams came to her once she started sleeping in the cottage. The dreams were demanding. All around the cottage lay twisted thin, colorful flags on sticks. The night visions she had showed her how to make these flags twirl in the wind as they once did. Not quite understanding, but rarely one to question, she set out to reclaim the 'whirlaways' and began setting the sticks right-side up and replacing the old twisted fabric with new buoyant cloth that she would find in dumpsters and beg from her friends on the streets. Soon, with much trial and error as the sticks fell and clothe blew in haphazard patterns, she accomplished what she envisioned. 

She also began to feed the many cats that surrounded the house. She had never been fond of cats, in fact, her close companion was 'Puck', an abandoned Chihuahua she found as a puppy in a dumpster was enough animals for her. Yet, a dream came to her again explaining to her that they belonged to the house more than she did. They proved good protection. One cat in particular stayed with her inside the cottage. She was an especially lovely long-haired white cat she named Cristal who woudn't leave. Another guarded the porch with a ferocity she had only imagined in a cat. When drug dealers would come looking for a place to exchange their goods, the cat would puff up to an enormous size and yowl for all he was worth. The vagrants and criminals decided to find another less unsettling spot for their commerce. The feral dogs that passed by also wanted none of this hellcat. She named him Moxie - as he surely had courage and talent enough to earn that name!

Together they rebuilt the 'Whirlaways' as Renelle rebuilt her life. Little did they know, a grander plan was in store for them all.

'Moxie Guarding'  PhotoArt by KY Cady