Umbrella’s lighter offshoot

A Man and His Cat

by Vanilla

Herb thinks he adopted me as a stray cat, for a favor, but he’s got that all wrong.  Herb was a stray person, the nicest one who ever came to the ice cream stand where I’d been in charge since my original person lost me.  I was doing the usual, jumping from one picnic table to the next, conning customers for a taste of ice cream.  Herb was watching when a big guy on a Harley, all decked out in leather and tattoos, took a couple of licks of his soft-serve vanilla and then gave the rest to me.  Herb got a real kick out of that and named me Vanilla.  Then he asked the ice cream people if he could give me a nice home, and home to Herb’s we went.

Home was long and boxy, a “mobile” home, Herb called it—though, as far as I could tell, the only mobile thing about the place was me!  I just loved to race from one end of the place to the other, up and over the furniture, hardly ever touching the floor.  I liked to hunker on top of Herb’s bookcases too.  Up there I was Guardian Cat, watching over everything, and it was cozy up there too, because the ceiling was low.  I would jump right to the top from a standing start! 

I like being Guardian Cat.  After all, Herb needs me to look after him.  When he got sick once, I stayed beside him night and day.  I slept near his bed and followed him whenever he got up to go to the wet room.  I don’t like the wet room but I had to make sure he was okay!  In the morning, I’d wake Herb up by jumping on the bed and licking his hands and face.  He said my tongue felt just like a wire brush. 

We live in a new house now, but still I wake Herb every morning, and I watch him real close to make sure he takes his medicine, brushes his teeth and gets dressed nice and spiffy.  Then, just to amuse him, I chase my tail and do flip-flops because it’s just so great to be a cat and be alive and I know I make Herb feel lively too. Herb used to be a dog person (cats know these things) but not any more.  Herb has discovered the advantages of the feline-human relationship. And I’m quite fond of Herb too—his books and his routines and his big petsome hands and welcoming lap.  Before he goes out, I rub my scent all over his shoes so other cats know right away: Herb belongs to me.

Vanilla, a tabby cat, lives with Herbert H. Lambert, a retired minister from Big Flats, New York.