by Lily Wang

My cat Bush is generally accepted as an unusually ugly cat. Actually until it was grown up I couldn’t even count the number of colors in its fur. Each of my family members counts a different number. I used want to call Bush a weird sort of striped cat, but the next second I found she had spots with a mixture of colors. When my father sent Bush to the hospital to do the sterilizing operation the other cat’s owner said Bush was a calico cat, but she has stripes and many mixed-up colors. I used count the number of Bush’s colors, but finally I decided that it was more and more challenging to find those colors which are impossible to describe—mixture colors. But Bush doesn’t seem to care about it. She is kind of proud of her bright and smooth fur. She doesn’t know that the colors make her seem disgraceful. Even now, when my mother sees Bush erect her fluffy tail, trippingly jumping past her eye, the first thing she says is that unchangeable sentence: ”Bush really is the ugliest cat I have ever seen.”

Even now I can also remember the time when Bush first time appeared in my family. “It is absolutely the ugliest one I have ever seen,” said Mom. As the one who took it home, Mom seemed to be joking a little bit. She told us how she found this poor thing: ”Because it is winter, you know the temperature in the night, this kitten was hiding into the heating pipe of our lab, it is very smart, it knows the heating pipe is very warm, but you know when we leave the lab, the heating must be shut off. So I just asked my pupils who found it to use some meat to lure it out.” Mom said this and gently pushed the ashy fur ball, which was a still streak on the washing machine shaking and dazzling, to keep it from falling  down. “I want to let it stay in our home for a night and then send it to someone I know.” My father and I all heard my mom’s unspoken sentence: ”I don’t want to feed another cat.” because actually we are already owned a cat. Far before this thing happened my mother had already complained several times about the scratches on the sofa, her torn wool coat and the smelly cat toilet.

This was the first time I saw Bush. I was not sure how old she was, maybe three or four months, but its unstable step and shaking tiny body won my full sympathy at the first sight: At that time , Bush was very small, smaller than a coffee cup, but uglier than any cup in the world. I couldn’t say what color she was. Actually, it wasn’t until Bush was four years old that I finally realized those indescribable “things” on its short hair were the variety of “patterns” of its fur color. My father summarizes the color as “ashy” because the color of “ashy” can fuse every color on her body.

Everybody says that the first sight of a person is very important. Sometimes it can influence one’s fate. My first sight of Bush was not that bad, but it would not make my parents and me look forward to keep it in our home. As I said before, I was already had a cat: Mimi. This made keeping Bush more and more challenging. A miracle would have to happen to change our mind.

Of course miracles do happen.

Here is the rest of the story: at that time my oldest female cat, Mimi, was already six, already an adult. But my father still bought a very big toy for her. The toy just like the tumbler: a strong spring connects the feather shuttlecock and a hemp covered heavy disk. When you shake the shuttlecock you hear the bell sound inside its little belly. My father told me that when he saw the toy he thought this toy must be very interesting, and Mimi might like it. But the thing my father thinks interesting, our cat found boring. When Mimi first saw the toy, she just stared at it for a second, and then looked at my father’s exiting face for a while, and then gently turned back, slowly walking away. After this my father felt very frustrated because he felt that he had been shown contempt by Mimi.

But this useless toy had been already found by the ashy kitten. Actually before Bush played with this toy we had no idea how a kitten would play with it: we just stared as the ashy kitten jumped off the shuttlecock, baited the feather, used her little body to keep the shuttlecock down to the ground and then forced herself to against the strong spring which connected the shuttlecock and the heavy disk, and then flew upside-down by the force of the spring. This thing happened again and again, till we slept we still heard the sound:”Pa,Pong, Kee”—Bush had been bound by the spring;“Tatatatatatata”—Bush was scratching the hemp disk; “shashashasha”—the sound of the shaking shuttlecock……these kinds of sounds continued for whole night. The day after, we finally found the toy which had been already pushed under the sofa by someone; it had lost the entire feather on the shuttlecock. Because of this thing, Bush successfully won my father’s interest and was accepted by my family.

The other famous and graceful thing about Bush is another miracle. My father called this “Bush VS Mom.” The story happened after my family moved to the new apartment. Bush was the last one who moved to the new home, but the first one to adapt to the environment: she started to kill and eat sparrows. No one in my family realized that Bush had this potential “talent.” My father was very happy about Bush’s new hobby because this made Bush more interesting. But after my mom asked him to clean the hall he soon changed his mind: Bush left three sparrows’ mummies and feather under the sofa which is the one that my father loves to lie down on. My father soon became unhappy and forbade Bush to get out. Because of this Bush learned how to open the window……

My family and I didn’t know that this was only the prelude to all the chaos——Bush was missing!

After recognizing this surprise situation, my father soon confessed his sin: he had taught Bush how to open the window. But he never thought Bush could learn so fast. Can a muddled animal learn something just from one lesson? That’s impossible. They even couldn’t remember anything during one week! My father was about ready to go insane. Because of this, my father became the most aggressive person in searching for Bush around our residential area. We spent a whole night running around to find her. But she was still lost. My mother start sinking into hysterics, worried that Bush would eat poison and die or get chased by a car like the cat she had had before. My father just came there and comforted my mom.

But what I worried about was “how did Bush get out of our apartment?”

Our apartment is on the third floor, and everybody knows that a cat would not die by jumping that far. But no cat wants to jump from very high just for fun, unless they were forced to. Cats can see the danger, and they also know that there are not strong springs tied on their paws. And our Bush is absolutely not the one who would want to commit suicide by this “special bungee.” She would never adopt this way to protest the treatment of my family. She must have used some method to get out from the window.

The next day, in the early morning Bush was back: she broke our screen window to come in my parents’ bedroom. Because of this my parents had been tortured by mosquitoes for a whole night. But anyway, Bush was back, and finally my family was back to harmony. The day after, Bush was disappeared again! But the difference was this: she had an audience—me. Because of this thing I start to recognize was that Bush has an imagination. Actually before this thing happened I always thought that as very timid and shy creatures the only thing cats could do is just make some daydream and huddle up like a turtle drawing in its head and legs to live an ordinary life: when the weather is good, they bath in the sunshine and sleep; when they are hungry, they eat; when they are bored, they daze. This is the thing that a normal cat would do, not climbing the window protective screening, going through our air conditioners’ protective feet, jumping on the downstairs neighbor’s windowsill, walking to our neighbor’s storage shed and then jumping onto the ground. Normal cats do not even want to get out of their homes. But Bush refuses to live like that: she has her own social activities outside the home. And the most interesting thing is that Bush has contempt for those stray cats. She only plays with house cats. To those wild cats, Bush’s attitude is just like an aristocrat’s. Actually in that group of stray cats, Bush is the one that is most like a wild cat: I believe that there are no families who would want to feed a cat as disgraceful as this one, except mine. After these things happened I told Mom about this, and soon our home welcomed a new-comer——those wild cats followed Bush’s method, walked straight to my home, and ate Bush’s cat food. As a “gentle, timid, shy and weak” creature, Bush chose to use screaming to express her resentment but she hid behind my father. Finally my father successfully banished those invaders, but this thing had made my mom panic.

Bush finally became the main character of my mom’s nightmare. One day Mom had also said that she saw Bush was pushing our neighbor’s window and biting their underwear which was hanging on the window ledge in her dream. I didn’t know that because of this dream, my mom started to plan the most insane thing I have ever seen in my life. After exploring the only way which Bush must be getting out, my mom was start to use iron-screen to seal off the window guardrail. After numerous experiments and Bush breaking through, Mom finally finished her “master piece.” And Bush was stuck in home boringly seeing those sparrows flying from here to there. At first my mom thought Bush had finally given up because of her “impassable master piece,” but she forgot that the hobby of Bush is to make the “impossible” to be “possible.” After two days’ observation of Bush’s action, I noticed that Bush was thinking! When she was sitting on the windowsill bathing in the sunshine, she was also exploring ways to get out instead watching those noisy sparrows. To my surprise Bush spent two days sitting on the same spot and looking around without moving. “Do all cats have this kind of great concentration?” I started to ask myself. I know that the ability of concentration can directly equal the intelligence quotient of a baby. But Bush’s ability of concentration is almost longer than my father’s——that means——Bush is maybe is the smartest one in our family!

For nearly a week Bush stuck there. Except for eating, running and going to the toilet all I could see of her was in the same pose on the windowsill: she gently sat there, two fluffy white paws fitly placed on an invisible line, and tilted her small ashy head like the sculpture of Romaine Rolland: The thinker.

One day when I was working on my homework, I heard my mom’s screaming and my father’s laughing, I rushed to the main hall to see what was happening: in the top of the main hall’s window guardrail, there was a small puffy fur ball shaking on the single iron wire of the window guardrail and crying “meow.” For the first time, I felt such disappointment that I angrily roared to Bush: “You damn bastard, jump down here!” Actually Bush truly got down from there, but not the way I wanted her to. Maybe she was shocked by my crying, and under my angry stare Bush started shaking more and more, and then she slipped. At the same time my mom had also climbed on the windowsill and was trying to catch her. But everything happened in less than a second and we were too late. Bush was holding one single wire by its two paws and started to slip, and we saw Bush slide smoothly from the top of the tight angle wire to the end of it. Fortunately Bush was stopped by my mom’s “master piece” and after two minutes of desperate struggle Bush finally stepped onto the windowsill, and sneaked straight off to the sofa.

After this event my mom nearly wanted to lock Bush into the back room and she started to reinforce and expand her “master piece.” I realized that she was really annoyed by Bush. But our main character just sat on the windowsill and supervised Mom’s work.

This is really weird!

After this risky experiment Bush started to exercise herself. But all the exercise in my eye was just like acrobatics lesson——Bush started to practice wire walking! But this wire walking was more difficult than any circus troupe’s: she had to jump from this wire to another. Of course, the entire thing progressed along my mom’s clotheslines. After these exercises, Bush started making a new plan in her small ashy head. The first time I saw her gradually get out of the “cage” I was really shocked:

First of all, Bush used her sharp paws to scratch the window frame and crowd her head into the gap between the window and the frame. After I heard the familiar sound, I knew that the window must be opened to its biggest size. And then, Bush sneaked to the windowsill and climbed on my mom’s iron-screen of the “master piece,” and passing through this Bush smoothly got on the top of the guardrail and jumped to the nearby guardrail and then to our neighbor’s windowsill. Following the trace of the air conditioners rail, she soon jumped to the second floor’s eaves and then sneaked away……

After I told this to Mom, she felt very frustrated. She did not want to enhance the “master piece” anymore, though it really does keep those wild cats from coming into the apartment.

And then because Bush successfully outsmarted my mom, she soon had a very bright nickname——“professor”. But truly Bush’s intelligence had been recognized without the diploma.

So, our ugly “professor” is still active in my home and gently enjoys her happy life. Even though Bush is generally accepted as an unusually ugly kitten, she is stills my favorite “unusual” cat ever.

Good night, my dear ugly kitten.

Lily Wang is an international student, from Beijing, China. She loves crafts, cats, religion, ancient building structures, engineering, sleep, and grapes. She is stubborn, capricious, and bad tempered, and she refuses the activities of modern life, persisting in firsthand life, stepping away with strange people and advanced electronic devices.