Midge (noun): biting black fly, some of which are carriers of filarial worms
There is something about pets that warm our hearts and give meaning to our very existence. They need us, we love and need them. Pets seem to know when we are blue, when we need to be amused or when we just need a little kiss to remind us all is right with the world.
At least that’s what I thought until Midge entered my life.
Being dragged by my ever faithful and ever barking canine companion down the sea path is always a feast for the senses: the tang of salt air, boats navigating the bay, flowers nodding their heads in the breeze, and the occasional fellow pet owner walking their well-behaved dog (their dogs are always well behaved).
Such was the setting one fine afternoon. Straining at her lead (no graduate of obedience class), my terrier bounded under a bush. Tail wagging, she refused all my attempts to lure her out of the shrubbery. Peering under a mass of branches (loaded with sharp thorns, no less), I discovered a tiny black and white kitten, no more than 8 weeks old.
His eyes caked with goo and mysterious gunk issuing from his nose, I picked him up gingerly and walked to the nearby fish market where a half dozen lobstermen were gathered around the bed of a pickup truck talking amongst themselves. I approached, holding the kitten while my well behaved dog leaped and twisted in the air, barking joyfully at the sneezing, sniffling, black and white ball of fur.
Holding the kitten up, I addressed the group of lobstermen, “Do you fellas have any idea who this might belong to?”
The men exchanged glances and one piped up, “Looks like he belongs to you now, deah.” His companions laughed at the joke.
Looking into the green eyes of the homeless waif, I knew I couldn’t just place him back under the bush where I found him my faithful canine found him, so back home we went, with my dog still leaping and barking from the thrill of it all.
A local veterinarian agreed to see the kitten immediately and on our arrival I had to fill out the obligatory paperwork.
“You forgot to fill out the kitten’s name,” the receptionist stated.
I informed her I wouldn’t be naming the kitten as I would find a home for the poor little guy as soon as I could.
Loaded with creepy crawlies and sporting a respiratory infection, the kitten weighed in at just under 2 pounds. I felt like such a do-gooder as I drove home with a nameless feline who had already cost me $90 a pound.
Days went by and the kitten improved. Weeks went by and all hell broke loose. Toilet paper shredded, water bowls knocked over, plants torn to bits. One day I returned home to find him hanging from the diningroom curtains, the fine weave of the fabric giving way under his weight.
Exasperated, I told a friend about the kitten’s shenanigans. “Are you looking for sympathy? You won’t find it here,” she said, “you really need to name that kitten.”
Of course I reiterated I certainly would not be keeping the little wretch and I fabricated a story about how diligently I was working to find a home for him ( I have been known to tell a white lie or two).
One night I lay in bed, reading peacefully when I heard the distinct pitter-patter of little kitten feet coming up the stairs. The kitten made his way, ripping, clawing and tearing, onto the bed. He purred with pleasure, curled up next me and bit me on the arm.
I shooed him away and shook my finger at him. He did what all cute kittens do: he batted at my finger in that cross-eyed way and made me laugh. He nestled into the side of my neck and bit down for all he was worth.
“You are worse than a swarm of midges!” I shouted.
There is a moment of truth is everyone’s lives, when you can no longer deny the facts. This time the fact was: I was keeping this kitten and had named him “Midge”.
As the months passed, Midge grew bigger and my patience wore thin. There wasn’t anything Midge wouldn’t shred, chew or mangle. Family and friends laughed like hyenas everytime I started a conversation with “You will not believe what that cat has done this time!”
Midge and my pooch got along famously from the start. They chased one another around the house, wrestled together and napped together (kittens need plenty of sleep to gear up for the next round of havoc).
One fine afternoon I came home and noticed immediately my furry fan club hadn’t greeted me on arrival and then saw the good sized tear in the window screen. A tear big enough for a cat but thankfully not big enough for a terrier. Frantic, I hooked up my dog and we went in search of Midge. Up and down the streets we went, and left not a stone unturned.
As I rounded a bend in the sea path and approached the fish market, I spotted an elderly couple standing outside a parked motorhome with Florida plates. The husband and wife were feeding smoked salmon to Midge. No wonder the cat didn’t want to come home.
I smiled as the wife hugged Midge and said, “Isn’t he precious? We’re taking a piece of Maine back to Florida with us.”
I admit, my heart leapt for joy. These people wanted the destructive little beast! I smiled inwardly as I thought of the money I would save on toilet paper alone.
“Midge is my cat. I’m sorry, but you can’t take him with you.”
What? Did those words just come out of my mouth?
“He tore a hole in the window screen and escaped,” I explained as my dog barked happily at Midge who was purring up a storm, cradled in the woman’s arms.
I took Midge home and wondered what had just happened. The little devil had made a disaster zone out of my house and I had taken him back. There’s no explaining it.
The torn window screen was replaced but Midge escaped again and again. He’s a wanderer at heart, I guess. I always knew just where to look for him because the women working at the fish market had taken to feeding the poor kitty tidbits of lobster, fish, whatever was convenient. No wonder Midge loved it there.
I gave up trying to keep Midge indoors and when I gave up, I made the most incredible discovery.
Midge follows me everywhere I go. He keeps pace as best he can while I am being dragged around town by my overexcited terrier. A walk to the post office? No problem. A journey to the beach? Count on Midge because he refuses to be left behind.
People around town always enjoy the sight of Midge following along side a woman and her dog. If I get too far ahead of him, Midge will let out a yowl to curdle your blood.
“Is that your cat?” a man sitting on his porch asked.
“Oh yes, he follows me everywhere,” I replied with pride.
The man shook his head and said, “Now isn’t that something!”
And yes, it really is something.