The Abduction of Gilbert Gerard

I don’t like cats.

Three times in my growing up years, my parents allowed us to have cats. John Brown Black Cat, the first, was a black kitten who climbed into the engine of my Dad’s Pinto and met its demise. This was a bad start. The second, a Siamese, gave everyone in the family ring worm and my Mom declared a deportation hearing. She won. The cat was forcibly removed and re-homed. The third, Frisky, was an outdoor cat at our rural home in the middle school years. It was very dark in that country yard. Dad took out the trash. Dad, clearly a fight in the fight or flight scenario was startled by the cat. Frisky went airborne as a result and decided to re-home himself. It was clear the Kinser children and cats were not a natural match. We had our dogs and we were happy.

When Jonesy and I bought our country home, I decided I liked cats better than mice, so I sought out a good barn cat to help. As luck would have it, a friend had just located a litter of barn kittens and they were ready for removal. So Oreo, the black and white, came to the house. My children were thrilled. As were the two dogs. They, in a bit of bad decorum, decided to play tug of war with the cat about two weeks after his arrival. After a bit of screaming, from the cat and me, the dogs let go of the cat. Oreo was injured and we believed we might need to put him down. As is the way of cats, that was but one life and Oreo was placed in a new home for his safety. We figured for him to stay with us would lead to more of the same.

In but one of those scenarios, John Brown Black Cat, was there any affection on my part for the cats. They were taken care of, but I am unsure they were loved. They weren’t around long enough to form a real attachment. Reading this history, it has become clear, cats were better off not being a part of our lives.

Macy wanted a cat.

Jonesy is allergic to cats.

I don’t like cats.

But Jonesy and I adore Macy, so we got her a cat.

A scraggly kitten with strange hair and an eye infection. She was thrilled. I was cautiously optimistic. (See above.)

When I picked Gilbert up from his previous owners, I was so excited about how Macy would react, I barely thought about the kitten. He was cute, soft, and that eye infection was a bit concerning. My focus, however, was on Macy. She was going to be thrilled. She was also going to be out of town until the following day.

Somehow, that night, while nursing the stuffy eyes and cleaning this unnamed cat, I realized how much I liked him. He was snuggly, unexpectedly so. He was playful and amusing. He liked laying in the crook of my neck. Macy stayed in the crook of my neck her whole first year. This cat was endearing itself by replicating the sweetness of a grown up daughter. Weakened by recent graduations and nostalgia, I found myself falling in love with this cat. Equally surprising was that I was not alone. Jonesy, too, was smitten by the cat with no name.

Macy returned the next evening and was thrilled with this furry, black kitten she dubbed Gilbert Gerard Jones. Named for the guitarist, Paul Gilbert. Macy joined in the easy affection of this precious kitten.

For ten sweet days, our family spent time laughing and playing at the rambunctious play of Gilbert. He was building his hunting skills to our delight by stalking and pouncing stuffed mice we scurried on strings. With his eyes cleared of the infection, he was healthy and fun. He loved to be cuddled as he slept and the white noise of his purring became a sweet background to our daily lives.

Spending his days on the front porch and indoors, while sleeping inside at night, Gilbert stayed close by any people he could. On his tenth night in our home, we placed him on a chair outside so we could eat without his insistence of being on the table. After dinner was over, I went to let him in the house. But he was no longer on the porch.

He was not under the porch, nor in the trees he would climb. Jonesy and I searched our property, calling his name, but there was no Gilbert. Jonesy went back to the woods and the storage shed hoping to find him curiously exploring. There was no Gilbert. I walked the side yard, looking in the drainage tubes and monkey grasses. There was no Gilbert. The darkness of the evening was settling in and so we went inside feeling certain he would come up to the porch for food and water soon. But, there was no Gilbert.

We went to bed that night afraid that the natural predators that share our land might have found this tiny curious kitten a nice evening meal. “Surely, he will be at the door in the morning,” I hoped as I nodded off to sleep. Yet in the morning, there was still no Gilbert.

Later in the morning, I knocked on the doors of our neighbors with no luck. I made fliers with his description and Macy’s phone number. But no one called. Wednesday evening the girls and I met Jonesy for dinner and as we discussed Gilbert’s situation I realized I was legitimately sad. Sad to the point I found myself crying. What was this? I don’t like cats.

We realized this would be another tell-tale story of why we should never have cats. But then on Saturday morning, we found hope. “Mom, I have a message that this lady thinks she may have Gilbert,” Macy shared early Saturday morning. But our hope quickly vanished. “The lady says, her daughter says, that the cat ran off.” Macy asked for their address, hoping we could go and search for Gilbert. The lady turned communication over to her daughter, who refused to share the address. “Well, did you happen to take any pictures of the kitten?” Macy inquired “Yes,” the simple reply, “send me a picture of your cat and I will see if it is the same one.” So Macy sent a picture of Gilbert with a description of some odd markings that could be identifiers. “This is not your kitten,” the girl replied by text. “Can I see a picture of the cat you saw?” Macy requested. The picture popped up, depicting Gilbert. Back and forth the test as Macy tried to get an idea of where this teen girl lived. The girl refused to disclose her location, while denying the kitten she found was Gilbert. Piecing things together, Macy realized it was the girl next door she was talking to. She went and got her Dad off the mower, and together they went to the neighbors and retrieved Gilbert.

We were thrilled our kitten was home!! But Gilbert was changed. He came in the house and ate. He clearly had not been eating. His eyes were back to being filled with infection, which had moved to his nose. He was covered in fleas and seemed miserable. He could barely keep his eyes open. We washed him and administered his eye medicine, but all he wanted to do was be held and sleep. What could have happened to our sweet kitten in the six days he was missing?

Jordon, while playing with the neighbor’s son was told they had had Gilbert since the night he went missing. The teen daughter, a bit of a recluse, is a cat lover with cats in the house in the double digits. Jordon says almost 30, but I struggle with reckoning that as true. But the neighbor boy insists it is so. Likely Gilbert was without food or sleep in his days next door. The house is clearly flea infested, as Gilbert was covered by them. The Vet gave him an antibiotic to help with the cat cold and infections. She also gave him a capstone bill to kill the fleas immediately. Three days upon his return, our old Gilbert was back: playful, full of life and curious.

Jonesy suggested that the days Gilbert was sick, causing him to just want to be held were a mixed blessing, as he still seems very interested in crawling up in your lap to sleep and receive a rub. His playful demeanor is balanced with his love of snuggling in the crook of your neck. It is the perfect kitten behavior.

“Aren’t you embarrassed you told everyone you didn’t like cats?” Macy heckled Jonesy and I one night. “No, I DON’T like cats. I like this cat.”

But that is not entirely true.

I don’t like cats.

But I LOVE this cat.

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