Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Return of Pinocchio

No, not the character from the book or the film. I’ve written about Pinocchio here before. She’s a shop cat who lives at a frame store in Jerusalem.

The shopping center where Pinocchio lives is on the other side of town from where I live and work. I don’t get there often these days, but whenever I do, I always like to call on Pinocchio, who was adopted about seven years ago by one of the shopkeepers. When I went there this morning, I dropped by his store only to be told by her near-distraught owner that she had disappeared the day before.

“She’s done this only once before in all the seven years I’ve known her, and she came back the next day,” he told me. “I worry about her. Once, about six years ago, she was hit by a car. She somehow made it up the stairs and came to me, and fainted at my feet. Somehow she knew I’d help her. I picked her up, put her in a box and ran with her to the vet on the corner—he’s gone now but his clinic is still there—and he told me that her injuries were so bad that it might be better to euthanize her. I wouldn’t hear of it and told him to treat her. Even after all the discounts that he gave me, the bill still came to three thousand shekels. Pinocchio’s got a lot of metal in three of her legs now and she walks with a slight limp, but she’s fine. You know, I have metal in my leg, too,” he said. “From the army.”

He pointed out Pinocchio’s usual sleeping place: the highest shelf in the store. “She sleeps up there every night,” he said. “She’s got everything she needs here—wet and dry food, fresh water, a litter box that I clean every day. My daughter’s a vet, and she comes to examine her every few months and gives her her shots every year. And you have no idea how many people come to see her!”

“I can imagine,” I said. “I visited her here once and had to stand in line to pet her. And once I had a cat who lived in a park for most of her life and had lots of fans.”

“Last night I waited for Pinocchio until late, but she didn’t come back,” he said. “When I finally went home, I left food and water outside the door for her, and I came in early this morning just in case she’d shown up. I didn’t sleep all night. I’ve asked every shop owner here to keep an eye out for her, just in case.”

“I hope she comes back soon,” I told him. “I’ll keep good thoughts in my heart for both of you.”

I did my errands with a heavy heart, thinking of Pinocchio and her worried owner. When I was done, I decided to go back to the shop to see whether she’d come back. As I approached, I could feel my heart lift. There she was, walking out of the store into the hall, followed by her much-relieved owner. She had come back only a few minutes before. As I watched, she jumped up on a stool. I managed to give her some skritches as I took this photo:

Pinocchio gets a skritch

The cat came back the very next day. Thank goodness.

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