by David McElroy
Just like so many of my animals, Merlin just showed up on my porch and never left. I don’t know where he came from. I don’t know who his mother was. I just know that a new kitten started hanging out in my neighborhood and then adopted my porch as his own. It wasn’t long before he came inside.
I rarely name animals for their physical characteristics, but Merlin was an exception. A woman I was dating at the time pointed out that the white fur around his nose and neck made him look like an older man with a white beard and mustache — very much like the wizard of ancient myths. So he became Merlin because of the wizard who I figure is the most famous of all time. It’s been a good name for him.
Merlin is a very calm and good-natured cat, but there’s a small part of him that had trouble learning to enjoy being inside where he’s safe. Yes, Merlin still wanted to chase birds and squirrels. He can sometimes sit in an open window for hours, intently peering at every movement of other animals in the trees just outside my office windows.
For a long time, I didn’t worry too much about this, but Merlin eventually decided to make a jailbreak.
I never leave cats around open windows, just because I know it would be easy for one of them to get out and get lost, hurt or even killed. One night, though, I left a bedroom window barely cracked. After all, there was also a screen. Surely that couldn’t be a problem.
For a normal cat, it might not have been a problem, but Merlin apparently has some leftover wizardry from another life.
I was only out of the bedroom for about five minutes, but when I returned he wasn’t in the window anymore. I looked around and couldn’t find him anywhere. Then I examined the window and screen carefully. Somehow, Merlin had squeezed through the very narrow space that the window was open and also broken through the corner of the screen.
The roof of my front porch is just outside this particular window, so it was obviously easy for him to jump onto the roof and then make his way to the ground somehow.
For the next couple of days, I looked everywhere for him, but there was no sign of him anywhere. After awhile, I was starting to give up on ever seeing him again. In the late afternoon of the third day — if I remember correctly — I heard something on my front porch. I looked through the blinds on the front door. Merlin was sitting on the front porch staring at the front door, looking as though he was just patiently waiting for me to open the door for him. I’m surprised he didn’t ring the doorbell.
I opened the door. He trotted inside on his own — and he’s never again shown interest in the outside world. I suppose he got his fill of chasing critters and being chased. He was dirty and actually seemed nervous and happy to be back inside, but he wasn’t injured. (The picture at the right is just after he came back home.)
Merlin still likes to look out the windows at birds and squirrels. He can be very intense about it. I don’t think he wants to take a chance on the outside world anymore. Still, I don’t leave windows even cracked around my little magician. I don’t want to give him the chance to make yet another disappearance.
Editor’s note: If you enjoyed meeting Merlin, you might enjoy previous stories and pictures about William, Anne, Dagny, Sonny, Alex, Bessie, Molly, Oliver, Munchkin, Sam, Maggie, Henry, Lucy, Amelia, Charlotte and Emily.