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Pool: Nine lives in the Snowpocalypse

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I suppose many of us have stories about the recent extreme weather event that led to record freezes, and assorted outages and outrages.

My story is not nearly as gripping as many people’s. We coped in relative comfort as I read updates from friends whose homes were barely above freezing indoors. But though I don’t have a story compelling enough to share, there is one story I find remarkable.

Let’s go back a couple of years, when a little black and white cat started showing up in our backyard. My wife has a very kind heart. She loves animals, small children and her family. At the time she was feeding birds and the opossum that would show up sometimes on the back deck.

We named the cat Cuthbert, after an Anglo-Saxon saint whose tomb we visited in Durham, England. It’s an odd name to go with an odd cat.

Cuthbert would make eye contact and keep a distance until the food was set down. Even then she would prefer the human go back into the house. Gradually we were able to get closer. Cuthie will accept stroking, even seek it out on occasion, and turns out to be very gentle, though skittish.

We decided to take care of the cat and get shots. So we managed to scoop up the kitty and go to the vet. It turns out that Cuthbert is a spayed female. She likely had a home once, but seems to have been on her own for a while. We could tell that she’s a hunter, though small. The birds don’t come around anymore.

Cuthbert likes to hang out on the back deck. We call it her Summer Palace. She hates being indoors. We had her teeth cleaned and two small extractions. She refused to eat indoors.

She will go into the garage in bad weather, so we keep the door up about six inches. As winter approached, my wife made a comfortable place for the cat out of a cardboard box and a lot of bedding and insulation. She even ordered a low-wattage pet heating pad to make the spot warm and cozy. We call it the Cuthberth.

As the coldest storm since 1949 blew in on a Sunday, my wife decided to see if the cat would come inside where it’s warm. No luck. The cat yelled to be let out, so she ran through the garage and out into the snowstorm.

She didn’t come back. We checked her spot repeatedly. Nobody there on Monday. I figured she had to eat sometime. No luck. Tuesday came and went.

Cuthbert is not the kind of cat to take up with strangers. Even out of the wind, it was terribly cold. By Wednesday we were talking about how the cat was probably frozen somewhere, and how crazy it was that she turned down food and a warm bed because she was afraid of a house.

We say we have one and a half good kitties. Cuthbert is not really “ours,” but a free agent who hangs around. She can be sweet, but she’s a stranger in our world.

Well, Thursday night, sure enough, Cuthbert returned. She was hungry, but not inordinately so. She settled down into her Cuthberth, and deigned to have her head rubbed on occasion.

As I write this, the weather is gorgeous and mild, and Cuthbert is back snoozing in her Summer Palace.

She’s one tough little thing, and we are happy the story turned out the way it did.

I’m sure, though, that she spent one of her nine cat lives in the snowstorm.

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— Frank Thomas Pool is a writer and a retired English teacher in Austin. He grew up on Maple Street in Longview and graduated from Longview High School. His column appears Tuesday. Contact him at

Today's Bible verse

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

Romans 8:9

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