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Calico Cat


By David Haldane

April 22, 2024



It was just a cat.

Not unlike the many that wander into our house making themselves at home. Nobody seems to know who owns them. My guess is that they just live in the barangay, migrating to wherever they can find food and shelter. Oh yes, and a private corner in which to do their stinky business.

This particular cat, though, had a distinguishing feature: it was a Calico. That rare and gorgeous white-streaked-with-gold breed that some cultures worship as goddesses of love, beauty, and fertility. Almost invariably female, many see them as symbols of feminine power and grace. And nearly everyone believes they bring good luck and good fortune.

So I issued stern orders to everyone in the house: feed it, indulge it, but please don’t ever chase it away. Because, God knows, we need good fortune as much as the guy down the road.

I should probably explain that my orders must have seemed a bit confusing. Because—ok, I’ll confess it right here—I had taken our previous feline squatter on a long ride from which she never returned. Deeply annoyed at the animal’s uncanny ability to find her way into the house even when we thought all its entrances were blocked, compounded by her propensity for jumping on the table and eating our dinner, well, I reached out one day and gave that cat a pat.

Almost immediately, she relaxed, clearly unaccustomed to this rare show of human affection.

Then I grabbed the animal by the scruff of its neck and dragged it shrieking to the car. With an obedient niece holding the beast as far from her vitals as possible, I drove us all towards downtown. And about 10 kilometers later, pulled over and quickly threw open the door.

“Ok,” I told my trembling young niece, “time to let that baby go!”

As we sped off, I got a last glimpse of the forlorn cat through the rear-view mirror, looking wildly hurt and confused as it disappeared behind a bush. My only defense is that it wasn’t a Calico.

In fact, the real Calico might have escaped the same fate had it not made the fatal mistake of delivering kittens. Given its karma-enhancing powers, I was ready to let that go. But soon the kittens started disappearing, only to be traced days later by their small piles of four-smelling excrement left in otherwise forgotten corners. And, sure enough, the nieces charged with cleaning those hidden corners quickly began to complain.

Then one day I came home to the absence of our Calico. And yet, its more ordinary kittens were still roaming about. “Alright,” I said, trying to suppress the surge of anger rising within me. “What happened to our cat?”

One of the nieces, probably the one who drew the shortest straw, bravely stepped forward. “Umm,” she began. “Well…”

“Yes?” I demanded impatiently.

“We couldn’t stand the smell,” she finally admitted, “so we took her for a ride.”

“And the kittens?” I pointedly inquired.

“We couldn’t catch them,” the young woman confessed. “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

So a house full of Calico had been reduced to one of nondescript kittens.

“Do you honestly think this is better?” I couldn’t help but inquire. “Separating the kittens from their mother?”

She met my question with a shrug, so I grunted and marched up the stairs.

A few days later, the same niece met me at the stairway’s bottom. “We got rid of those kittens,” she announced, “at the same place we took their mom.”

“How will they survive?” I inquired skeptically.

Then she delivered the punchline. “You won’t believe this,” she said, “but their mother was still sitting there waiting.”

I didn’t believe it. I figured they’d just made that up to placate my feelings. Happily, it worked. Less happily, however, I’m still looking over my shoulder for the crushing bad fortune that’s sure to come.





David Haldane is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines. His latest book, A Tooth in My Popsicle, is available on Amazon. This column appears weekly in The Manila Times.










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