Bungee the Wonder Cat

Bungee is the Rasputin of the cat world. He’s used up more than his nine lives during his 13 years on this earth and shows no signs of succumbing to the grim reaper anytime soon.

Bungee is part Siamese which makes him a natural talker. When my sister found him in an animal shelter, he was separated from the other cats. His yammering and yowling landed him in the area where they kept rabbits, and when Emily saw him for the first time, he was pacing back and forth demanding to be let out. Emily’s husband nicknamed him Panther Man.

Emily had two other cats, both of whom decided to hate Bungee. He became a misfit and subsequently relied heavily on human attention, something he still demands today.

We acquired Bungee seven years ago when Emily and Dana moved to an apartment that didn’t allow more than one cat, so we agreed to take in Bungee. He was, after all, a cat. How hard could it be to take care of a cat?

The first week he lived with us, Bungee wandered across the Heather Haberacker Memorial Parking Lot (as it is fondly known in our East 8th Avenue neighborhood) to a house where college girls lived. He hunkered down under their porch and started to talk and talk and talk some more. They thought he was hurt, but he was just lost and unsure how to get back to his new home. He had on a collar and tags, but instead of calling us, they took him to the Clarion County Humane Society’s night drop.

When he wasn’t home by morning, I called CCHS and the second someone answered the phone I heard my ticked off cat in the background. He never wandered further than a block from home again.

Until he was catnapped.

The summer after Bungee moved in, we encountered, on several occasions, a woman who paid an inordinate amount of attention to Bungee. We passed it off as just a lonely person who appreciated animals. But then Bungee disappeared.

The first night he was gone we didn’t think much of it. It was a lovely evening and we assumed he was enjoying it and didn’t realize it was time to come in. When he wasn’t at the door the next morning, we started to worry. The Humane Society hadn’t seen him and neither had our neighbors. By day three we were convinced he’d been killed. Then on the fourth night, a woman came to our door carrying Bungee. She simply said she heard Bungee meowing in her neighbor’s house and recognized him as our cat. We didn’t ask any question; we were just grateful he was back. Bungee was thinner and missing his collar. What the catnapper did to him we will never know, but he didn’t leave the house for a few days.

All in all the people Bungee meets are kind and appreciate his affectionate demeanor. One little boy who saw Bungee every day on his way to and from school brought his parents by to meet him. Bungee was out on the sidewalk waiting for “friends” and my husband and I were sitting on the porch. The little boy exclaimed to his parents, “There’s Eugene!” Apparently to a 6-year-old reading a tag upside down, “Bungee” looks like “Eugene.” His mother looked at Bungee’s tag and kindly said, “Honey, his name is Bungee.”

Other children have been confused by Bungee, too, but not because of his name. Let’s just say the cat isn’t svelte. He has a belly pouch of flab that jiggles from side to side as he trots down the sidewalk. It’s quite comical, actually, and we tease him about it all the time. One day a little girl came to our door and asked if, when our cat had kittens, she could have one. Larry just smiled and told her that Bungee wasn’t going to have kittens but that if HE ever did, we’d certainly let her have one. He figured one day she’d understand, and she skipped away, content that maybe one day she’d have a cat like Bungee, too.

Bungee survives despite his own curiosity. Many times he’s wandered into our utility closet and garage, without our knowledge, and spent his nights locked in until we realized he was missing. One hot summer day he wandered into our neighbor’s car as she was hauling groceries into her house. When she finished, she closed and locked the doors and went in her house. About an hour later, she went back to her car, opened it, and was totally surprised when a very angry cat ran out and proceeded to scold her with his long, drawn out yawls. She felt so bad, but how could she have known that Bungee was an illusionist in a previous life?

Bungee’s relationship with birds is obviously predatory, but not in the way you’d think. While he’s killed a few birds in his lifetime, he nearly lost his life to two really angry robins when he tried to walk away with their baby in his mouth. They swooped down on his head, pecking him and squawking at him with such voracity I’m surprised our neighbors didn’t call the police. He dropped the baby bird and ran into some bushes as the male and female robin continued to chastise him. He came home, humbled, about an hour later. I watched it all from my kitchen window.

I no longer plant flowers that attract butterflies because I don’t want Bungee contributing to the demise of the Monarch butterfly population. But Bungee is a permanent part of our family, despite the fact he’s often in the exact spot we want to step. He likes asparagus and cantaloupe, lime yogurt and halibut. He sits in an empty chair at the dinner table like one of the family and is miffed when we have company and make him forfeit the chair.

The grim reaper is always on the sidelines, watching for an opportunity to snatch up our crabby, whiney, needy, loving cat. I suspect Bungee knows this and has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Or perhaps he keeps them in his fat belly pouch.

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