Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: A wellness story for a change…

I spotted the little gray and white tabby while working on my laptop next to a kitchen window. She was staring at a female cardinal perched on the lowest branch of my old cypress tree.

My own tuxedo cats, Joey and Chandler, had also perked up at the sight of a visiting cat. Indoor cats, they don’t understand food that doesn’t come from a can and wonder why this cute intruder seems obsessed with a stupid bird. They looked at each other, exhausted from the thought of having to hunt for food, and fell into a deep sleep on the window seat.

When the cat turned to look in my direction, I saw that she only had one eye. Because of its marks, it looked like the missing eye had been crudely stitched up.

“Janina! I screamed. Like a crazy. She immediately reminded me of the pitiful but brave one-eyed character from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

She turned to the cardinal, and I tapped on the window, but Janine oddly didn’t answer. I would learn later that she is deaf. But I’m moving forward. She stared at the bird a little longer and when I looked up again she was gone. The back neighbors new cat, I guess. We have coyotes so I should tell them to keep her inside at night.

A few hours later I was weeding flowers and realized that Janine was on my doorstep watching with interest. I called her. No answer. I finished my work and left.

Janine was in the backyard again when I finally got close enough to get a good photo to text our neighborhood group. No one knew Janine. How is it possible ? She was clearly well groomed, not your typical stray.

I decided to send the photo to a subgroup of neighboring ladies. We meet once a week on someone’s porch for a catch-up. It’s a beautiful tradition because it’s that rare group of women who don’t feel obligated to snack and turn it into work. We arrive with a drink, or not, and we sit down for a while.

“I saw that one-eyed cat!” a neighbor sent me a message. Janine’s photo was posted on a lost pet registry she was monitoring.

A minute later, she had found the message and texted Janine’s mother. And here comes the fun part. Janine, whose real name was “Lil Bit”, lived over 10 miles away. How did she get from the suburbs to my downtown backyard?

The owner immediately texted me. “It’s my cat!!!” She had posted Lil Bit’s disappearance everywhere (with a big reward) and walked around her neighborhood every night. It had been almost two weeks. To say the owner of Lil Bit lost sleep is an understatement. A mutual friend said she was “devastated”.

I texted, “Are you sure?” His picture of a young Janine wasn’t so convincing, and I didn’t want to give him hope.

“I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

A public health nurse, she arrived in a lab coat with a tin of sardines. A local cat shelter delivered a trap because at the time Janine was stubbornly hiding under our house. Deaf. One-eyed. And 10 km from my house. Duh Hubby crawled under the house with Janine’s mother. I do not have. I had to, uh, wash my hair.

It took two hours, but Janine was finally happy in her mother’s arms. None of us could believe it. We hugged and jumped up and down, three strangers now bound for life.

The next morning, Janine’s mother sent a picture of her happy in her own bed with her puppy best friend who she had also missed dearly.

A happy ending in a world that often doesn’t seem to have many. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Celia Rivenbark is a best-selling NYT author and columnist. Write to him at [email protected].