Shouths and Murmurs: No Pulitzer, but this cat’s a winner
It was a half-grown cat, with ears too large for its head, ribs that stick out a little more than they should and a tail that seemed as if it belonged on a cat much larger.
The first time I saw her, she was curled up in the shade of the natural gas meter behind our office. When I called to her she hopped up on the porch and walked around my ankles, purring as if she'd found a long-lost friend.
Later when I looked outside, she was curled up inside a trash barrel that had tipped over.
Although at first it seemed she may have been visiting from a neighboring house, we soon suspected she had no home.
She walked with a limp, holding her left foot in the air. When we filled a Frisbee with a little milk and bits of bread, she gulped it down.
Clearly, this cat needed a home. But where? One cat, and two dogs already live at our rural home, and that seemed enough. Caroline, Paula and Lori, who work at The Mirror, each have two housecats, also enough. Shawn has a Beta fish and he's been talking about getting a puppy. Perhaps he'd settle for a cat instead. I crossed my fingers.
Later in the day, when we had time to talk about it, we wondered what would be a good name for the cat -- if someone were to keep it. Because she's black with white feet, I assumed someone might think of the obvious "Boots" or "Stockings."
But Shawn thought of a name of greater importance.
"Pulitzer," he said with a positive nod.
Then Caroline suggested we name the cat "Tom Eblen," after a long-time journalist who lives in Lawrence.
Shawn grinned as he pondered the name of one of our favorite former professors at KU.
"Tom Eblen," Shawn said. "That would be a good name for a cat."
Tom Eblen retired from the William Allen White School of Journalism three years ago. While there, he served as manager of The Kansan, KU's student-run newspaper, and taught advanced editing.
Tom was known at the J-School for being able to help his students make job connections. In fact, it was Tom who made the first contact that led to me being hired as news editor of The Mirror five years ago. And I think Tom also had a hand in helping Shawn find his way to The Mirror some three years ago.
Shawn's rental unit forbids pets. And I couldn't go home that night and leave the hungry kitten to spend the night in the trash barrel. So I checked with my husband, who said OK as long as she's an outdoor cat.
I promised Shawn that later in the summer if he moves to a place where a cat would fit into his -- and his landlord's -- plans, he could have Tom Eblen.
Famous last words.
It's been a week now. The "outdoor" cat has become an indoor cat -- my husband's idea -- until she's big enough and strong enough to live outside.
And somehow, as the proverbial little bird keeps telling me -- it's beginning to seem that little "Tom Eblen" is at our house to stay.