Bennie has wandered all his life. We didn’t know about this habit, or his name when we met him earlier this year.
“Why’s that kitty following us?” my grandson asked.
“Don’t know,” I said to Owen as I glanced over my shoulder at Bennie.
“Ignore him and he’ll go home. We’ll have oatmeal when we get home.” We crossed the street. No kitty in sight.
“He’s still following us. Maybe he likes us?” Owen said at the next corner. As if tethered to us by an invisible thread, the cat shadowed our next move.
I held Owen’s hand and we crossed Regent Street. I was sure Bennie would turn back rather than sprint through heavy traffic. “If we hurry up he won’t follow us,” I said. We crossed several more streets. I continued to look behind us. As we took the sidewalk, Bennie cut through backyards.
“Look. He’s here!” Owen shouted as Bennie rubbed my leg.
I reached for Bennie’s tag on his collar. “It says his is name is Bennie. Here’s his address and phone number too.” Bennie followed Owen into our home. I called Bennie’s number and left a message.
“Owen, please stay with your brother and Bennie so that I can drive to Bennie’s house to leave a note,” I said. I hoped to find someone where Bennie lived. When I arrived I met John, who returned with me to retrieve Bennie.
Last month my grandson asked, “How’s Bennie?”
“Don’t know,” I replied.
Shortly thereafter I met Susan, John’s wife. I told my story about our visit with Bennie. “He’s been that way all of his life,” Susan explained. “He likes to roam.”
Sometimes when Bennie roams Susan and John have problems. Following one of Bennie’s outings someone claimed to find Bennie and posted ‘lost cat’ on a list serve. Susan answered the post and brought Bennie home.
Hate mail followed. Messages complained, “How can you let your cat run wild? Cats kill birds and wildlife. Don’t you know that? What’s wrong with you?”
“Bennie never killed a bird, “ Susan explained. “He captures all sorts of animals alive and brings them home. John and I chase chipmunks and mice around the house and shoo them outside. I hate to keep Bennie cooped up,” she continued. “He likes to roam. Cats prowl. That’s the way cats are.”
Last year Susan received a phone call. “We didn’t know you moved to Wisconsin Rapids,” the Humane Society person said.
“We didn’t,” Susan replied. John and Susan made the 150 mile round trip to bring Bennie home.
Susan speculates that the cat kidnapper removed Bennie’s collar to keep Bennie from being found and returned to Madison where the abductor assumed Bennie would kill more birds. The kidnapper didn’t know that Bennie had an identity chip in his ear.
At 14 years, Bennie is slowing down. He brings fewer trophies home, and his trips are shorter. Someday Bennie will quit his jaunts. At that time, Bennie will no longer do what cats do. Until that day, Bennie will continue to roam. As Walter Cronkite, legendary CBS news anchor would say, “And, that’s the way it is.”
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
I write personal essays, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and self-development articles from my home in Madison, Wisconsin.