“Erwin! Come and get your cat out of the kitchen.” My mother yelled to me while I was in the backyard playing with my friends.
My friends looked at me quizzically and I ran into the house through the back door. There was my cat, Adleiavde, lying on the kitchen floor with his mouth hanging open and his tongue stretched out to the side.
“Does he have to lie there like that? It’s certainly very eerie.” My mother was easily disturbed by Addie’s behavior.
“Stop staring at him, mother. He will be fine in a moment.”
“He doesn’t look like he’s breathing.”
“Of course he is. His mouth is open for maximum airflow. Let me go and get his box.” I ran upstairs to get Addie’s sleeping box and brought it to the kitchen.
I scooped him up into my arms and laid him gently into his bed. I covered him with his blanket and closed the box. My mother’s strange look had become a common thing since I brought the cat home on my sixth birthday.
I found him a kitten on the side of the road. He looked starved and looked barely alive. I was moved to pity and put him in my pocket. I shared my cup of milk and bread every until he began to grow more fit.
Later I found him a box, an old blanket and a ball of yarn from my grandmother’s knitting. He loved that yarn. One day I left to go to school and when I came home he was tangled so tightly I was certain he wasn’t breathing. I screamed and ran to find some scissors to free him. My mother found me cradling him in my arms, weeping. She asked what was wrong and when I looked down he was moving around again, as if nothing had happened.
I shortened his length of string and named him Adleiavde, or Addie, for short.
This accidental lifestyle became something of a habit. I would leave and come home finding him imperiled or what I thought was dead and yet after rescue, he would appear to be fine as if no harm had come to him.
As he grew older, he would occasionally appear as if he were dead. No signs of respiration, no physical activity of any kind. I learned to pick him up, put him in his box and go off to school. When I came home he was always fine.
It worried my mother fiercely. She took Addie to a local veterinarian who found the cat in excellent health, the best he had ever seen. He explained to my mother that cats slept up to fourteen hours a day and not to worry if the cat was a deep sleeper.
No more was said about his habit. For a few years.
The year before I was to go to university Addie was nearly eleven years old. His relationship with my mother hadn’t improved. He had begun to be found lying still in her chair, limp and lifeless or on the table, with a pool of drool forming at his mouth, cold and stiff. She was never able to revive him. I don’t think she liked him and saw him as she thought he should be. As circumstances would have it, I was away on a trip for a number of days.
One day when she could stand it any longer, she found a local maintenance worker and told him Addie was dead and asked if he could remove him. The man found the cat stiff and cold on the kitchen floor and he diligently removed the corpse, placing him in the trash outside.
When I came home, my mother told me the terrible news. I was inconsolable. I went upstairs only to find Adleiavde sitting on my bed, cleaning himself, waiting to nuzzle me with the stink of a trash can about him and a candy wrapper stuck to his foot.
My mother never looked at him again.
I took him away with me to university. It was clear she had no aptitude for feline care. Strangely enough, Addie was never able to be found when any of my roomates were in, but he would be a great inspiration with my physics experiments for years to come.
From the early memoirs of Erwin Schrödinger, Austria 1938
Adleiavde © Thaddeus Howze 2014, All Rights Reserved