This is NOT a photo of George; the cat in the picture
is Oscar, another cat who remained part of the family
for a more extended time than George did!
A litter of kittens recently appeared in my backyard. The first time I saw them, they were already about 5 weeks old, and scattered quickly at the sound of my footsteps. When they continued to hide under the house every time I approached them, I suddenly remembered another long ago cat that hid in our backyard.
When I was about 4 years old, I desperately wanted a pet. There were stray cats around, but none that belonged to me. So when I discovered a cat living under an old building behind our house, I claimed him as mine (even though he was too wild to make much of a pet.) But I peered persistently under the shack in hopes of getting a glimpse of him, and promptly named him George. In my mind, George belonged to me, although he never agreed to the arrangement.
Much to my delight, I discovered one day that there were kittens under the shack with him, and I felt as proud as if I had birthed them myself. I was bursting to tell someone, and saw our neighbor, Floyd, sitting in his backyard. I ran across the street and breathlessly rushed up to where he sat on an old school bus seat pushed up against the garage.
“Floyd, George just had kittens!” I exclaimed. Floyd burst into laughter. “Come see!” I persisted, and he allowed me to take his hand and pull him across the street to observe the tiny furr-balls under the shack. He tried his best not to laugh, but the effort almost caused him to swallow his cigar.
Later, when I recounted my story at the supper table, my big sister once again took the wind out of my sails, which is what big sisters do best. “Silly; boy cats don’t have kittens!” she informed me. Boy, did I feel dumb. How was I to know?
I think I tried to come up with a girl’s name for George in order to save face, but by then Miss George had packed up her family and moved on. Maybe that was a good “first” lesson in checking things out before you blurt out your ignorance. It’s still a good thing to remember.