AHAB THE WANDERER – Marilyn Armstrong

Back in another life, I lived in a little house on Long Island, not far from the university where I’d gone to school and at which my husband worked. We always had a dog and several cats. In those days, we let our cats outside. There wasn’t much traffic and everyone’s cats roamed the neighborhood.

One day, while we were out in the yard, we had a visitor, a medium-sized black and white cat. He was extremely friendly. Sidled right up to us, purring, and doing that little head butt that’s so endearing. Maybe he was hungry? Of course, we fed him.

My son fell immediately in love and we said he could keep the cat.

ahab

My husband had a passion for the classics. He named the cat Ahab, which he said meant “wanderer.” Princeton University agrees, except the name in Hebrew means “uncle.” Which is irrelevant but I threw it in because I did the research and wanted to do something with the information.

Back to the story, already in progress.

Ahab was a sweetheart, the most laid-back cat I ever knew. My 4-year old felt he needed a bubble bath in a bucket. Ahab purred his way through the bubbles and the rinse cycle then continued purring all the way through dinner and a relaxed evening on the sofa with the whole family.

We couldn’t figure out why anyone would let a sweet fellow like Ahab go. He was young. Healthy. Litter trained, though he preferred going outside to do his business. His coat was shiny and he showed no sign of abuse or neglect. He oozed charm.

Ahab settled in like he’d always lived with us. He got along with the dog and the other cats. Loved children. Loved everyone. We made a date to take him to the veterinarian for shots.

He never went to the vet, at least not with us. The following day, without so much as a “by your leave,” Ahab moved down the block and took up residence with a different family. We were a little wounded. We’d never been abandoned by a cat before. His new family adored him but Ahab only hung around a few days, then moved on.

We eventually lost track of Ahab. He moved from house to house, charming everyone and purring his way to his next home. He never stayed longer than a few days and was always the perfect house guest.

Was he a stray? If he was, it was what he wanted.  Ahab was a wanderer by choice.



Categories: Anecdote, Animals, Cats, Pets

Tags: , , , ,

33 replies

  1. What an incredibly sweet and charming story of a wandering cat. I looked after a kitten when I had a part-time job in the town I lived at that time. Suddenly a tiny cat marched over my word-processor’s keyboard, wanted to be cuddled, fed, and followed me everywhere. I asked in the whole house and everybody but nobody declared themselves as the owner. The 2nd day was a Friday and after long deliberation I took kitty home to my dog and family. The cat behaved as if the home was his/hers (I forget) and even stroke out its paw from my dog’s armchair to chase her away…. That’s when my patience waned; kicking away MY dog after hardly an hour in our household…. We fed him/her and brought the kitten back to work on Monday. Again, no claimants – I fed and watered the young one and about another day or two later a very self-righteous guy barged in our office and told me off for ‘stealing his cat’…. That went down well as you can imagine. But anyway, kitten got back-adopted to his owner and my dog was queen once more in our home.

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  2. What a gorgeous cat Ahab was, Marilyn. I have had cats all my life – my parents used to take in overspill from the local rescue centre, and we tamed a family of wild cats to save them from the Council’s plans to have them put down. At one point we had 11 of them owning us. I know you do get wanderers by choice, indeed I have a friend who was on the receiving end of a cat who chose them over his first owner. But one that moves on that often is less common. Cats are self-serving so I guess if that’s what he was like, it would just have been the way he chose to live. I felt sorry for you though, as he sounds the perfect pet. It’s so easy to get attached. We have two rescue cats at the moment called Beowulf and Grendel who came to us as kittens, and they’re firmly ensconced and both have huge personalities. They live up to their names. But at least Ahab left you with some lovely memories and he image of those stunning eyes.

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  3. A cat with a mission. 🙂

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  4. This is a fascinating story. A wanderer by choice.

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  5. Some cats and some people aren’t meant to be tied down to one place. My family used to call that the ‘itchy foot’ syndrome. I think my mother suffered with that the worst, but I inherited the trait. Never did much with it though, although in my early youth I moved about eight times one year…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. He oozed charm Marilyn, he would fit in anywhere and he knew it.
    Leslie 😉

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  7. Ahab reminds me a bit of Sewie, only Sewie was more of a “player” and would “cheat” on his owners with more than one house at a time. I was one of his favorites until Gypsy showed up last year and then I guess he got jealous. I still see Sewie around teh neighborhood, but even though Gypsy’s disappeared, he still hasn’t forgiven me and come back to my porch for a meal…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahab probably had a home at some point, but he chose the open road. He didn’t seem to mind all our other animals, either. He enjoyed our company for a few days, then wandered. Wherever he had begun, he was probably considered long-lost by the time we met him. And I don’t think he was more than a couple of years old. He looked young.

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  8. He had a mission to follow, to bring joy and love to as many people as he could reach.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this piece, Marilyn. Just think of all the adventures this cat could have in fiction:)

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  10. Ahab sounds like a cat with a plan. Always moving on before he could wear out his welcome. A cat that will let a four year old bath him really is laid back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was incredibly tame and gentle. But he liked traveling. One home just wasn’t enough for him. I heard sometime later that one family had locked him inside and he had settled down. I wonder for how long? I bet only until someone opened the door!

      Liked by 3 people

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