By D. Bob Sauer
One of the more interesting episodes in my long list of career choices was working in the kitchen at Shaggy Oak assisted-living facility. This was a nursing home that served a variety of seniors whose needs ranged from a place to recover from surgery to constant care for the chronically ill. The kitchen was a busy, bustling place during meal preparation with six of us baking this, stirring that, slinging these, flipping those and eventually hosing every thing down.
Besides myself and the five other cooks and servers, the kitchen was home to “Good Kitty,” an orange-and-white feral cat who wandered in one day and never left. With all the table scraps and leftovers Good Kitty was, oh let’s say, an exceptionally well-fed cat. It wouldn’t be inaccurate or necessarily demeaning to call her a feline fatty. This was not a small cat––she was definitely a 3XL. Someone weighed her on the meat scale and she tipped the dial at just over 18 pounds. I don’t care where you’re from, that’s a big cat. The residents of course loved this giant fuzzy thing. Between meals she would make her way through the forest of walkers, wheel chairs, and canes, stopping or at least slowing down to have her back stroked or head scratched.
One day I asked my buddy Eric the soup dude why Good Kitty was allowed to stay in a health care facility. He explained that the administrator thought the cat was good therapy of sorts and besides; she was convinced that the cat had a supernatural almost clairvoyantly telepathic gift. It turns out the cat would only go into a residents room and camp out if it somehow sensed impending death. Evidently, on many occasions Good Kitty would be seen paying particular attention to a specific patient, and sure enough within a day or two, they would pass on from whatever ailed them. I thought to myself, yeah right, a clairvoyant cat.
While listening to Eric’s little story I looked down at Good Kitty who was stretched out all fat and happy under the dough mixer. She just looked back at me, yawned and blinked her big green eyes really, really slowly just like always. Clairvoyant cat, yeah right.
About a week later I was picking up trays and dishes from a group of rooms that had their meals delivered. One of the rooms was occupied by “Uncle Ed.” They called him Uncle Ed, but he was nobody’s uncle. From what I could tell, he was a mostly grumpy old coot with no friends or relatives and a bad ticker. Over the past three months he had gone into “final” cardiac arrest a dozen times. The administrator, just that morning, had sent an e-mail to the entire staff to keep an especially watchful eye on Uncle Ed because she had noticed Good Kitty hanging out by his door.
So, during the course of my AM duties, I gave my courtesy knock and went into Uncle Ed’s room to pick up his breakfast dishes. In the dim light I could see old Ed lying there prone, stiff and clutching the bed rails––dead as hell. Good Kitty was there too, still firmly attached to Uncle Ed’s face––all 18 pounds of suffocating fat, flesh and fur. I ran back to the kitchen in a panic where everyone was busy stacking plates and bowls. Trying to catch my breath, I was ready to sound a code blue and tell what I had just seen in Uncle Ed’s room.
Right behind me, on my heels, strolled in Good Kitty. She sat down, casually looked around, finally focused her stare squarely on me and blinked that slow, deliberate blink but this time with only one eye. I paused, puzzled at first, but then I winked back. After another few seconds I started putting on my apron and said, “Hey, anybody up for getting a beer after work”? Clairvoyant cat, my ass.
Next Issue: Creative cat craps outside the box.