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New Penny


by ggildroy

A cat wrapped in blankets

My grandpa always loved cats. My grandma, not so much. They’d had cats in the past, but my grandma absolutely forbade getting another. They hadn’t had one since I was about 9, when their beloved gray striped cat died. My mom and I have joked since then about getting my grandpa a kitten and just not telling my grandma until after, but we never acted on those jokes. A few years ago, they moved into a new house. A lot of people now live in this house, my grandparents obviously, but also my dad, my uncle, a few cousins, and most recently moved in, mice. Now, my grandma doesn’t like cats, but she hates mice even more. You would hear her scream from down the hallway, and you’d know she’d spotted a mouse. One day, she cried out “We need a cat!” followed by a few profanities. She really did not like mice. My grandpa, dad, and I all looked at each other. Even if it was said in a moment of annoyance and fear, we could take advantage of this. Immediately, I logged onto the computer, went to craigslist, and searched “pets”. My grandpa followed and went to the Humane Society website. We were determined.  

After a month or so, it seemed my grandma had forgotten that she even said that, but we hadn’t. We had our eyes on one cat in particular. Her name was Mouse, she had gray stripes, was two years old, and was currently at the humane society in town. I had pointed out the irony in her name, we would have her hunting her namesake, and we just thought it was even better. One day, while watching the news, my grandpa simply stated, “We’re going to meet a cat at the shelter tomorrow. Her name is Mouse,” It took my grandma a minute to realize what he’d said. 

My grandpa brought the cat home when I was not there. She was quite shy. It was hard to get a good look at her for a while. Her stripes were lined with white, as if a small child might have tried to outline them. Her fur was soft like one of my favorite sweaters. The tips of her paws were a deep, charcoal black. Her stomach was long and hung down a little due to malnutrition (not for long), which gave her a distinct jiggle when she walked. She quickly became my grandpa’s pride and joy. She didn’t want to be, though, and spent days hiding under different beds. Not my grandma’s, though.  

My grandma had closed her door. She did not like this new cat, she went on and on about how annoying she would be to take care of. My grandpa and I would swoon over her, while my grandma just stood there staring, wondering what to do.  

After she got over the initial shock, Mouse spent most of her days exploring and messing stuff up. She also slept. A lot. But again, never on my grandma’s bed. There would be a strict punishment if that ever happened. 

One Sunday morning, I was sitting with my grandma on her bed, when I saw the cat out of the corner of my eye. The door was open just a little. I patted on my lap to get her up on the bed, which I could tell my grandma didn’t really want, but she didn’t stop me. That was progress. She then got up and went to her closet while I sat there with Mouse. The now chubby little cat looked around the room in awe and seemed to have decided to make it her job to discover every nook and cranny in it. Of course, she couldn’t do that all in one morning, so she came into my grandma’s room almost every day to snoop around in a new corner or hide under a new surface. It was funny really, and my grandma was starting to really like her. She started calling her Penny, the name of an old cat that her and my grandpa used to have. This was a sign that they were getting along. According to my grandpa she loved the old Penny.  

There were certainly hiccups in this new friendship, though. New Penny, or Mouse, jumped on my grandma’s dresser one night, the one she kept all of her special pictures of family and friends on. Even though nothing was broken, this set them back a few weeks. I never knew someone could hold a grudge on a cat, but they did make up after a while, and now, although New Penny’s access to her bedroom has been limited, they get along quite nicely. They nap together, shown partially in the photo above, and my grandma thinks about her when she goes to the store, coming home with a treat or something special. Although my grandma denies that she likes New Penny, you can tell she does. New Penny is pretty spoiled now, which I won’t say is purely the result of this friendship, my grandpa is probably the main reason for that, he has an odd knack for fattening up animals, but my grandma no-longer tried to stop it. 

Months have passed since we got New Penny, and we have another cat in the house now, too. His name is Buster, and my dad and grandpa found him while on a work trip at the Flathead (we have a family painting business so almost everyone in the family has the same job). They had decided to go to the lake one evening and suddenly a cat just meandered out of the woods. He had a tag that said Buster, but they couldn’t find his owner, and it looked like he had been in the woods for a long time, so they brought him home. New Penny and Buster are best friends and big trouble makers. My grandma now has two cats to love and hate at the same time.  














A cat wrapped in blankets



















New Penny

Helena | Montana | United States




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