"The Long-Tailed Cat" by Neal Murphy

January 20, 2023 - There is an old saying, “I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!” The meaning behind that saying is the longer a cat’s tail is, and the more rocking chairs in a room, the greater the chance of the cat’s tail being mashed. Of course, it does not have to be a rocking chair as far as the cat is concerned.

I got my driver’s license at age 14, which was legal in 1950. My mother had taught me to drive in a 1946 Chevrolet sedan which was equipped with “vacuum shift”. I never knew what that meant, but the car salesman said that it would make shifting gears easier and smoother.

During that period of time I had a black and white cat, whose name was “Tabby”. I have always been a cat lover, as well as a dog fancier. Tabby was forever begging to get into the house. He would sit on the concrete garage floor and stare at the door until someone let him inside. I usually would be the one to open the door for him to bound inside and find a soft place to curl up and nap.

One particular day I had driven our 1951 Dodge to town on an errand. Upon arriving back home I drove up the driveway and into the garage. I noted that Tabby was in his usual begging posture at the garage door. Unfortunately, I misjudged how far out his long tail was protruding. I ran over the last six inches of his tail with the left front tire. Faster than I could say “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” Tabby yowled loudly and headed for the safety of the crawl space under the house. I was terribly upset because I was not sure how badly he was injured, but no coaxing would get him from his hiding place.

It was a couple of days before Tabby ventured outside. I got a look at his long tail and it appeared flattened out. I was sure that it would shrivel up and drop off. Dad put some of his dog medicine on the tail several times, which Tabby promptly licked off. Nature’s natural healing process took over and eventually his tail healed.

I remember Tabby as my only cat with a crooked tail. That was his trademark until he disappeared at some point when I was in my high school years. One thing I did learn from the experience was to be more careful in driving a car into the garage. Of course, Tabby learned that lesson as well…and they say cats can’t be taught anything. Try running over their tail.