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My cat

Love came into my life when our darling, sweet, almost human, cat `Pooper' (it was my late husband who gave him this name after the new kitten left a memento in one of his slippers) came into our lives. How enriched we were when Li'l Pooper came into our home and decided to stay.

We got our beloved pet at a sale at a local pet store following a mysterious fire in the basement of the shop that burned up the owner, Mr. Owens, and a considerable number of budgie birds — all the birds were consumed by the fire that left not a trace of their little feathered bodies. Also, not a trace of any of the tropical fish since they too were burned up. Luckily, Pooper was spared by the fire and was found hiding from the flames and smoke under a pile of shattered bird cages.

We brought Pooper (I wanted to call him Prince) home from the store and I remember well how he looked when we carried him into our home. A wee scrap of a feline slightly scorched from the fire. His little round, plump belly searching for a friendly rub. And an inquisitiveness that was so very appealing. He fit in as if he owned our house. He went from room to room and, when he came to the basement and found his basket and litter box next to the gas furnace, he purred.

Life seemed completed with Pooper. He ate with us and once the little scamp dragged a whole roast off the counter to his little home in the basement. My late husband gave him a small swat and Pooper playfully swatted back but misjudged and left four nasty, very deep, scratches on my late husband's arm. Pooper was so contrite. I have never seen an animal look so disconsolate as my late husband hopped around the basement holding on to his arm, screaming, and dripping blood over the floor.

True tragedy struck a week later. My late husband smelled smoke coming up from the basement and rushed down the basement stairs. Pooper, obviously frightened by the smoke, rushed up the stairs at the same instant. My late husband tripped over Pooper and fell to his death on the concrete floor below. The coroner said that death was instantaneous and he did not die of smoke inhalation from the burning litter box.

Now it is just my little precious and me. We sit on the sofa and Pooper lies on my lap playing with his toys: two AA batteries, a rubber budgie, and my late husband's lighter — which Pooper looks at with such concentration.

We sit and enjoy hours of watching Pooper's favorite television programs and I drop treats into his ever-open mouth. We have just now run out of treats and I must go into the basement pantry — Pooper so does like his little treats and gets quite upset when we run out.

Pooper, even having gone through several tragedies in which he could have been burned alive, still makes his home in the basement next to the furnace. A few moments ago he got off my lap and, carrying his toys, went to his little home. I shall take this opportunity go for his treats now. Fortunately I don't need fresh batteries for the smoke detector — I replaced the ones the fire marshal said were rotted due to a corrosive fluid that, strangely, smelled of cat pee. How ridiculous! How could cat pee be in a smoke detector high on the ceiling? To do that a cat would have to climb on the counter, then to the stove top, then to the refrigerator top and finally to the top of the cupboards. Yes, I know Pooper was once there — he was frozen with fear and my late husband had to help him down — but Pooper would never think of peeing upwards to the ceiling. Pooper is my darling little pet. It had to be something else that caused the smoke detector to rot.

Right now I can smell smoke. It must be the meter reader in the basement smoking cigarettes again. Damn it, I have told him never to do that. Doesn't he know that second-hand smoke can kill? I will complain to the gas company about this inconsiderate man. Just after I get Pooper his treats.

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