Where we last left off in Part II of our series

My girlfriend and I had just brought home our new cat

We had named her Asha (Sanskrit, meaning Hope)


Part III: Home Life

After lots of sniffing and exploring
Asha settled down beneath our coffee table


She even stayed there, facing the computer screen
As my girlfriend and I began to watch Shaft


“Hey,” my girlfriend said. “I think Asha likes the movie.”

I glanced down at the cat
She was completely mesmerized by that bad mutha…“Shut your mouth!”

“I think you’re right,” I said. “Maybe we’re on to something here.”

The way I figured
Maybe we’d had the great fortune to adopt a cat
That was an appreciator of Shaft—a film that had opened the floodgates
To the Blaxploitation Renaissance of the ’70’s

A film that heralded the first-ever African American actor as part cop/part superhero
Who wasn’t going to take any shit from anybody

Especially, THE MAN

But maybe I was way off base with that assessment

But maybe not

Once Shaft was over
My girlfriend was able to coax Asha into her lap


And just like John Shaft, that man of action
I even jumped into the game of affection myself


As the next few days passed
Fun and games ensued in our happy household

Asha loved swatting at toy balls
And being chased around the apartment by my feline girlfriend


Then came the matter of setting up the litter box

My girlfriend recommended one called the Booda Dome

It was well known for its unique construction
Meaning, because it was covered
It ensured both privacy and cleanliness

A cat could dig to its heart’s content without scattering litter from the box

Need I say more?


My girlfriend set up the Booda Dome in the kitchen

At first Asha merely sniffed it and nothing more


By the time my girlfriend had left for work that day
The cat still hadn’t used the space-aged litter box

But later, while I was writing in the living room
I heard a scratching in the kitchen

I got up from the computer and poked my head around the corner

Sure enough
Asha was inside her Booda Dome digging to her heart’s content

Once she hopped out
I promptly phoned my girlfriend at work

“I think Asha just used the litter box!”

Even as I was saying those words
I could hardly believe they were coming from my mouth

Still, I couldn’t help myself

This was a monumental occasion

Right up there with groundbreaking discoveries like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Cancer and AIDS Research
Detection of plasma boundaries using entropy methods

You name it

It was completely beyond my comprehension
To understand how, without any prodding, our cat knew how to use this litter box

There were no written instructions
No on-line tutorials
No mentors by her side

All she had to rely on was pure instinct

“But did Asha go to the bathroom in the litter box?” said my girlfriend

Me: “Hold on. Let me check.”

I put down the phone and bolted over to the Booda Dome, lifted the lid


And checked inside


I bolted back to the phone
“We have liftoff,” I told my girlfriend. “Mission accomplished.”

The two of us giggled with glee

In that moment
I don’t think we would have been any happier
Had you told us we’d just won the lottery

More days passed

For toilet reading material
I found myself perusing Doctors Foster & Smith
Instead of The Onion or The New Yorker


What could I say?

I wanted to make Asha happy

I was her proud papa
And I wanted to buy her every gift possible

Everything from the Kitty Pyramid Bed
To the Comfort Zone Plug-In for Stressed Cats

But this bliss, being the house of cards that it was
Soon came tumbling down

A little over a week ago
Asha became very distant

For hours on end she’d hide beneath our bed
Would become extremely skittish whenever we tried to comfort her

“What do you think’s going on?” my girlfriend said

Me: “I don’t know. Things seemed to be going so well.”

After discussing various possibilities
Including diet and such

We finally narrowed it down to a catnip mouse we’d purchased for her


“Do you think that’s what’s making her so weird?” I asked my girlfriend

“Could be,” she said. “I’ll write the woman from Sante D’Or and she what she says.”

Sure enough
The next day my girlfriend received an e-mail from the cat adoption woman

She told us to take the catnip away from Asha, pronto
That could definitely be what was making her so agitated

I promptly chucked the mouse in the dumpster

Over the next few days
Asha started to become herself again

And currently, as I write this post
There are good days and not so good days with her

Sometimes she loves our company (mostly my girlfriend’s)
And sometimes she’ll hide beneath our bed for hours on end

On these days
I mope through the apartment

“What’s the matter?” says my girlfriend

I shrug

It’s hard for me to put into words how affected I’ve become by this cat
How not having her complete no holds barred love
Can shake me to my core
Can make me question my own ability to love and be loved

“Just give Asha time,” says my girlfriend. “She’ll come around.”

She reminds me of what the woman from the shelter told us when we adopted the cat

That we need to be patient
That our cat had been bounced back and forth
Between two homes and a shelter before finally coming to us

Asha needs time to adjust
She needs time to get used to us

To trust us

And so the days pass

And every once in a while
I’ll pull a postcard from my writing desk

It’s something I’d picked up at the shelter when we adopted the cat


Maybe the whole idea of animal communication and healing might be full of shit

But maybe not

And with every passing day
I consider calling that number

Because right now
I’m willing to do anything
To connect with Asha, my furry little Hope

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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