We spent a good part of Sunday looking for Murphy. He had disappeared in a row of bushes that bordered the campground. There was a fence, as well, on the other side of which was a row of rather pricey-looking houses that shared a canal that fed into Lake Manawa. Between us, we reassured each other that he was a big, bouffy sort of a cat; able to defend himself, or to run and climb a tree when that would be the better strategy. Pony, in particular, grew more convinced that someone in the neighboring houses may have taken him in, and I, too thought that might be possible. He was a cute fellow, and could be very affectionate.
I spoke to other campers, describing our cat and our plight. One or two thought they might have seen a cat matching that description. The problem was, there was also a pure white, short-hair stray that was also wandering the grounds, so one could never be entirely sure. I spent big chunks of time wandering through the park, over both well-marked trails as well as into various patches of woods, calling out Murphy’s name (although any cat owner can tell you that the chance of a cat responding to being called is a whimsical prospect, at best). By late Sunday evening, we had no luck recovering our missing cat. We had one more day before we needed to pack up and head on to Ames, Iowa, and though we spoke very little about it, both of us considered the worst case scenarios.
It turned out that the kitten I had named Murphy was sick with a virus or bug of some sort when I first brought him home (not uncommon; all sorts of things get passed around the kittens while at the shelter). This actually worked in his favour in a couple of ways. First, he was rather lethargic, low-energy, and paid no attention at all to Sam’s attempts to intimidate him. Consequently, Sam went from exhibiting aggressive, dominating behaviour to actually sort of looking after the poor, pitiful thing.
Secondly, Pony was herself down with a cold or something of the sort. She took to cradling Murphy under her sweater, the two of them commiserating in their misery.
I remember one morning when I had trouble locating the new kitten. There was a space behind our two couches that opened onto the stairwell leading to the basement. I found him there. His eyes were crusted shut, rendering him effectively blind. He knew that a wrong step would send him falling down into the stairwell (perhaps to break his neck), so he was not moving. I picked him up, and Pony proceeded to clean the gunk off of his eyes and sit on the couch with him nestled under her sweater.
If he had been a human child, I might have been inclined to say he had chicken pox, as he developed bumps under his fur that eventually scabbed over. For the next few weeks, we used to joke about the exciting nights we could describe to our friends:
What did we do last night? Oh, we just sat around, watched tv, and picked scabs out of the kitten.
This was the start of our living under Murphy’s law.