A Rocky Start – How Bono Nearly Broke our Hearts

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  As I slotted the key in the heart-shaped
locker of our apartment building, I turned and glanced at Lydia on the step
below. Gripping Bono’s carry case, she wiped a tear from her cheek.
       I was surprised. As a trainee
psychologist, she deals with harrowing human stories every day. How could one
homeless cat make her weep?
       Inside our apartment, she placed the
case gently on the floor. Bono’s orange eyes beamed out at us. He meowed
softly. Lydia reached for more tissues.
        “Life’s so fragile,” she said. “I’m sad
he has only three years to live,” she said.
         “He doesn’t know that,” I replied.
“Besides, if he finds a good home he may survive much longer.”
          Three years ago, my personal trainer
Stephen was told his dog   Millie had two
months to live. The vet had overlooked the fact Stephen has special affinity
for failing bodies, both human and animal. On a diet of organic meat and
unadulterated devotion Millie continues to thrive.
         Bono’s gaze swiveled inquisitively
around the room. He seemed calm. We ached to introduce him to his temporary
           Jon at Bideawee shelter had
delivered clear instructions. We were to open Bono’s case in a confined space
and keep the cat there for two days.
        The dressing room was probably the
ideal size. But to pair of visitors from Australia the entire apartment was a
          Lydia opened the carry case. Bono
burst into the living room. He whirled around the centre of the room, faster
and faster like a tornado building strength.
            Then, to our absolute horror, he
disappeared up the fireplace.
            As the cat clawed further up, an
avalanche of rubble and dust tumbled into the room.  
             My dreams of fostering a cat in
New York were crumbling along with the structure of the building. It was
probably only a matter of moments before the whole place imploded.
             That didn’t worry as much as what
would happen to poor Bono. All we could see of him now was a black lion’s tail
dangling down through a curtain of dust.
              If he climbed any higher we might
never see him again. Or he could fall into a vent to endure a slow, painful
death. I dreaded the thought of calling Jon at Bidawee to confess we’d failed
so tragically and so soon.
              Lydia and I looked at each other.
Pulling the tail like a doorbell could be effective, but would also be cruel
and possibly tarnish our relationship with Bono forever.
               I decided it was time to
practice what I preach. In my book Cats
and Daughter
s, I encourage people to have faith in their children and pets,
and cut them a little slack.
                If Bono had half a brain, he’d
get himself out of there. There was a rumbling noise as he shifted inside the
chimney. Another plume of dust showered down.
            I could almost hear the imprisoned cat trying
to work things out.
                His tail moved sideways. Then
in a shower of rubble, Bono tumbled back down into the living room. White with
dust, he torpedoed straight past us into the bathroom.
                Lydia and I almost wept with relief. Bono
had rescued himself from a horrible fate. Understandably, he wanted nothing to
do with us.
                After we’d stuffed the
fireplace with plastic bags from the supermarket, Lydia and I granted Bono what
he obviously craved – some down time. We went out.
                The warmth New Yorkers have for
pets is phenomenal. In a city where so many people live alone, animals seem to take
the place of significant others in many cases.
                 At a pet supply shop, the
owner thanked us for fostering a cat and refused to charge for a sack of kitty
litter. Shop assistants at a hardware store became actively involved in helping
us find the right food bowls.
                   We carried these items back
to the apartment and set them up in the dressing room that was hopefully going
to be Bono’s confined space. 
                    A pair of amber eyes
watched from under the bed.
                    Could we ever be friends?


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