On the eve of Iranian presidential elections in June, a black cat showed up to our household. He sat on our front porch and refused to leave. More than once he followed the incoming crowd into the house whereupon I screamed “Get that cat out of my house!” I was not interested in having a new pet and I knew that the cat which seemed loving and comfortable next to perfect strangers was a house cat which must have gone AWOL on a loving family who must now be frantically looking for him. I told my son to let him stay outside, so that his family can locate him if they went by our house.
My younger son kept feeding the cat and naturally, he would not leave. I made “Cat Found” signs and posted them in the neighborhood and the neighbor next door posted a “Cat Found” announcement on Craig’s List. Nothing doing. No one came looking for the cat. I made my son take him to the local animal shelter to see if anybody was looking for him. Nobody was, according to my son, who had decided to return the cat upon receiving the news.
During this time, the elections had happened in Iran, people had shown up to street protests, and Neda and some other protesters had died before my very eyes on YouTube. I can barely remember a sadder time in my life. Sitting at my dining table, working and writing, crying tears of loss, confusion, and anger, suddenly I did not mind seeing the black cat come in and sitting on the floor next to my feet. I reached for him and he immediately hopped on my lap, where he sat and made me fall in love with him through my tears.
I named him Mir Hossein.
The cat became a member of our family. Loving, peaceful, and low maintenance, he quickly surpassed my last cat, Asghar, in popularity and familial love. He followed me everywhere and always sat where he could keep an eye on me. In many ways he was like a dog, attentive, kind, and loving. My friend Maryam said later that he is a Maine Coon, a particularly loving species of cats.
In January, I went on a three-week business trip to Washington DC. Staying away from home, I was missing my family, friends, and Mir Hossein so much. I couldn’t wait to get back. I returned looking forward to having my cat by my side to remind me about the simple joys of life and all that I love and hold dear in the Bay Area.
Alas, things were not that simple. My son informed me upon my return that Mir Hossein had gone missing for 48 hours and that he had been actively looking for him in the neighborhood, without any positive results. After a couple of days went by without spotting our black cat, he posted “Missing Cat” signs in the neighborhood and told all the neighbors to be on the lookout for him. By the week’s end, he had visited all the animal shelters in our neighborhood and the next ones over, to see if anybody had turned him in. Nothing doing.
I refused to put his food bowl and bed away, waiting for him to return. “He will come back,” I kept saying, but feeling less and less hopeful.
Yesterday, the next door neighbor called to say that she could hear a cat in the vacant house next door. We went to the door and could see Mir Hossein’s black face with the one tiny round white spot right under his nose through the side glass window. Oh My! He was alive and well! We located and contacted the real estate agency which had listed the home. The firm’s office manager showed up with a key and let Mir Hossein out. She said he must have quietly walked in behind the realtor the last time he had shown the house some sixteen days ago.
The cat had lost considerable weight and was anxious. For the first time since I had met him I found out that he had very sharp claws which he used on anyone who came close to him. He must have been able to drink water from the toilet bowls in the house, but naturally, he had not eaten in sixteen days. He ate and ate and ate and I was standing by, waiting to take him to the vet if he started getting sick, which he never did. Later in the day he finally calmed down and went to sleep.
As I write, my sweet cat is sleeping in his bed next to me. When I finish posting this blog and turn off the lights to go to bed, he will follow me and curling up in my bed, he will put his right paw on my face and go back to sleep, as he is used to doing.
I am one lucky woman today. I have found Mir Hossein.