"Guess what we found?" Eve asked.
"Pumkin?" I asked, hopefully.
"Yes!" She said.
"Alive?" I asked with trepidation.
"Yes!" she said with joy. "I know it's her because as soon as she saw me she tried to suck my ear." Yes, that was Pumkin--she thought Eve was her mom, and would suck on her earlobe whenever she needed some love. It was an odd but harmless habit--although, one of Eve's earlobes is now longer than the other.
Gigi (the babysitter) and Eve had been at home when they got a call from someone saying that she had found our cat running across the road--in the worst neighborhood of Allentown, five miles away! Seriously, Pumkin couldn't have picked a more dangerous neighborhood to end up in, and yet what a wonderful, generous thing it was for the woman who found her to call us and return her to us (after feeding her a can of tuna fish).
When Lou and I got home we rushed in, and there she was. She was filthy, had lost almost half her weight, was covered in ticks, and worst of all, had a look in her eyes of someone who had been hunted, been hurt, and lost her innocence. Poor Pumkin!
When Lou checked our voice messages from the night before, Halloween night, there was a ransom message from some guys saying they had found our cat at the local Burger King, and if we didn't bring money she was a goner! Poor Pumkin!
I pulled off all the ticks, fed her, and took her to the vet, where they declared her skinny but uninjured. But Pumkin was home for Halloween!
Within weeks, she was back to her normal weight--although still sneaking out whenever she could. And years later, she has chosen to be an outside cat who occasionally tries to sneak in instead of out. Every time I take her to the vet, they say, "Pumkin?! You're still alive?!"
Yes, Pumkin Shirley is alive and well. She is still hunting mice, having nighttime run-ins with the fox, and finding crazy places to fall asleep--like the baby stroller! And every Halloween, we are so thankful that we found her and she gave us a Halloween happy ending!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.