By Lauren Merryfield
A small, gray kitty had been given to a thirteen-year-old girl who seemed too busy for the responsibility of caring for a young cat. The startled and frightened cat found herself in a “carrier on wheels,” headed for a home on the edge of a small town.
Two adolescent girls welcomed the unplanned, new addition to the family, naming her Caterina, after the current Perry Como hit, “Ca-ter-i-na; oh ho ho…” Katie, as she was dubbed, made herself at home, both indoors and outdoors.
A few comfortable years with her new family suddenly came to a standstill as she noticed furniture relocating and boxes of clothing and dishes appearing from out of no where.
“Not again!” she complained to herself, “They’re not moving me to another home are they? Why?”
One day, as the house became empty, she was placed, once more, in a “carrier on wheels,” but the rest of the family was with her this time. Was someone giving away the entire family, she worried?
Another new home all right; interesting indoors and outdoors to learn, if she just wasn’t so frightened.
Katie leapt from window to window, occasionally leaving “presents” from her GI tract. Though she was not allowed outside at first, she worked it all out in her mind, joining the view from each window into a mental tapestry.
“Too many of those noisy carriers, usually carrying no cats anyway; they were definitely something to fear.
Humans, smaller in stature and shrill-voiced, appeared in droves at certain times of the day. They were something else to be feared.
She consoled herself, to some degree, noticing the trees and other plants. Bewildered, she saw the familiar picnic table and other objects which had–well, how had they gotten here?
At night, Katie was carried to the garage, and by day, she played the window game and eventually spent more time outside.
On an icy, winter’s day, snug and warm in the house, Katie discovered something utterly fascinating.
In the bathroom she found a counter on which she could jump, and there, in a “window,” was another cat, exactly like Katie, looking back at her.
A yowl or two of apprehension and curiosity welled from Katie’s slight being. At that very moment, the other cat opened her mouth, too, but no sound came forth.
Katie stood on her hind legs and as she did so, the other kitty did the same.
When Katie walked back and forth along the counter, the cat in the mirror did the same.
Feeling no apparent harm in this situation, Katie made friendly conversation. The cat in the mirror seemed to echo her communication, yet, oddly, without sound.
Just as Katie had chosen to prance on the mirror, in a friendly manner, she saw the other kitty doing likewise.
“Why is she being such a, well, a copy cat?” Katie wondered.
Their noses seemed to touch but she felt only hers on a cool, hard pane. Their paws met, too, but again, Katie felt only the mirror panel. Slightly disgusted at the starkness of the mirror, Katie’s tail slowly swayed back and forth, prompting a similar response in the other kitty.
Why couldn’t they hear each other? Why couldn’t they remove the mirror so they could touch each other?
Bewildered, yet continuing her curiosity, she left the scene, finding herself once more either moving from one window to another or spending more time outside.
On subsequent occasions when Katie and the mirror cat entertained each other, the humans seemed to be quite uproariously amused indeed. Katie was told how cute she was, pictures were taken, and the teenage girls insisted on showing their friends Katie’s new-found game.
Katie contemplated the mystery yet further, when one day, she realized that the cat in the mirror was pregnant, just as she was, and she was wearing a blue-and-white homemade collar, identical to the one Katie wore, as a gift from one of her human sisters. “How could this be?”
When Katie’s kittens had died and a slim Katie approached the mirror, there was the other cat, slim as she. When she related her sad loss, the other kitty seemed to say the same, minus the sad meow.
During another pregnancy, Katie became very ill, spending most of her time out in the garage. The human called “Dad” watched over her, and when the time came for her to deliver, she had no strength. “Dad” helped deliver a large, lifeless gray kitten.
Weakened and saddened, Katie brought her plight to her mirror friend who seemed to go through the motions, as usual, but without–what was it? Was this cat not really alive as Katie was? The more she pondered, the less Katie understood this relationship which seemed to be based totally on her initiation. However, there was something alluring about it, so she kept coming back…
Until one day, ill once more, kittens on the way, “Dad” watched over her as before. On this occasion, Katie was too weak to deliver.
One last trip in the “carrier on wheels,” to the vet, and the news was not good. Katie had five lifeless kittens inside her causing systemic toxicity. The vet kindly reported to the family that even if he delivered the kittens, Katie was most likely unable to recover.
A decision was made, and Katie was given tearful good-byes from her favorite humans, who loved her as much as she loved them. She saw her family for the last time, noticed she still had the homemade blue-and-white collar around her neck, and then all was silent.
Now she could go look for that cat in the mirror. Would she realize that the other cat was a reflection of herself?
Now, at long last, would she finally understand that Katie did it?
Lauren has written about cats since she was in grade-school. She is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and has contributed human and animal-interest articles to several publications.