The next day, Tuesday, I worked more with Kali. She seemed very confused when I didn’t come back for her the day before. Kali was so used to attention, that she’d become a spoiled cat.
I thought she had already improved, as I watched her observantly. She didn’t call any extra attention to herself while I fed her. She ate in my presence. When I got out the tinkly ball, she batted it around a little. I smiled, satisfied. Maybe Ms. Garner had just spoiled her way too much, and didn’t realize how easy she was to handle. Just ignore her for a day or two, she’ll get used to life.
After a moment of hesitation, I decided to risk letting her out of the cage for a little bit. I invited her out; however, she didn’t want to come out at all. I stood forlorn for a second. A moment later a loud call from the kitchen told me it was time for breakfast, so I stood up to leave. Kali shied away to the back of her cage and looked around with big, frightened, yellow eyes.
I sighed, my hopes plummeting.
Maybe Kali wasn’t learning so fast. Maybe I wouldn’t finish training her in time. Maybe there was a cat I couldn’t train. Maybe…
Then I felt something soft and silky brush against my leg. I looked down tentatively, and saw it was Kali. Surprisingly, she started purring while rubbing her body on my leg.
The sign of friendship, I thought, filled with emotion, as I always am when a cat learns to trust me. I almost whooped with joy, but instead I just grinned and gave Kali a million cat kisses, which is like blinking in slow-motion while making eye-contact with the cat. She gave me a cat kiss, too! I was afraid to reach down and pet her, for fear she would run away. Was she still afraid of me? Once earning my trust, it would be easy to introduce other humans into her life, too.
Mom yelled for me to hurry because the toast was turning cold, but Kali pretended not to hear the sharp voice.
I hesitated. Then I quickly reached down and stroked Kali’s stripy head. We both froze, and I wondered if I had made a mistake. Did I just lead the training progress backwards? Kali seemed unsure of what to do, but then relaxed as she sensed my growing confidence. I always made myself feel confident, because cats can sense it, like many other animals. Kali continued her rubbing, almost knocking me out of balance in the force of her rubs. I felt more proud of her than ever.
I let out the breath I didn’t know I had been holding in a whoosh.
Mom called again, this time sounding angry and indignant at the same time.
’Ellie Grace Albert, I’m telling you you’re gonna have to eat your toast cold and hard as a gravestone!”
I laughed. My mother was sometimes a bit too dramatic. But I believed her about my toast. I ran in, generously leaving Kali to her freedom on the porch. I trusted her to not run away, although it seemed so unlogical. But a weird feeling inside me, the one I only get sometimes; when a cat starts to trust me, told me to let Kali alone. She only needed to be taught a lesson… right?
Josephine came over for a surprise visit around ten. She knocked on the screen door, like all my friends do.
‘I hear you’ve got a troublesome cat?’ she asked, smiling warmly.
‘How did you know?’ I exclaimed. I hadn’t spoken a word about Kali.
‘Your mom.’ Of course. Always Mom.
‘So… can we see her?’
No! She’s my cat to train. Don’t act like you’re the master cat-whisperer! Wait, why am I thinking this?
Josephine seemed to read my thoughts, like always. She laughed, and the bright, cheerful smile she always wore made her seem less suspicious to me. I felt guilty inside for the mistrusting thoughts I kept inside me.
‘I’m not going to steal her or something! I just wondered if I could see her!’
I let out a forced, nervous giggle. What was wrong with me? Josephine was one of my best friends and she’s never let anyone down! What had I to fear?
‘It’s all right,’ I said, more to myself than to Josephine.
She flashed her beautiful smile again.
I gently showed Kali to her. Kali purred louder than ever, and I hoped she wouldn’t do this to Ms. Garner. She would be sure to jump up screaming and calling the police, because there was a “roaring lion” in her house. Josephine picked Kali up, crooning softly to her. UH-OH! I thought, bracing myself and closing my eyes so I wouldn’t see what happened next.
‘She seems a really nice kitty,’ Josephine commented casually. I opened my eyes one by one.
My mouth opened, about to yell at Josephine not pick Kali up, but then closed it again.
Kali wasn’t struggling, wasn’t chewing Josephine’s hands to smithereens, wasn’t scratching Josephine’s eyes out, wasn’t chomping on her fingers, and wasn’t screeching hysterically!
My jaw must have dropped because I caught myself staring with my mouth open wide. Josephine took one glance at me and dropped Kali so quickly the cat hissed ferociously.
‘I- I’m sorry, I mean, I believe you didn’t want me to… pick her up?’
I concluded my face must have been a sight. I switched to a happy smile.
‘No, not at all! You know Kali would have murdered you by now if today was yesterday?’
Josephine blinked. She looked stunned, and I felt stupid because I over-reacted.
‘Look, this is awesome. I was supposed to be done training her on Monday, and she was so wild…’
Kali sidled up to me and rubbed her tummy on my leg. I picked her up, my mind apparently still not working properly. For some reason I thought she’d somehow magically turned into a sweet kitty, but I was about to be proven wrong. Very wrong.