I was now a “grownup” kitten! My tummy fuzz grew back into silky black fur and I scampered around as usual.

“Nina!” Miss M’lu was calling me. I was entertaining myself by swatting at Ringo’s tail. Since he was starting to look annoyed I decided to go to her.

“There you are!” She was holding my leash and harness. “Come here, girl, we’re going shopping.”

We went to the car and while she buckled me in my car seat I noticed that the stroller was already in the back.

Our first stop was at The Granary which is a natural health food store. She took the pet stroller out of the car and put me in it. Before we went in though, she did something funny, she put a mask on her face! She looked funny and all I could see were her eyes.

We went in and the lady at the register smiled as we passed by. I noticed some people were wearing masks, like Miss M’lu. I couldn’t see their faces. I wondered why they were all covering their faces.

Miss M’lu picked out some items and put them in the holder underneath me. This store carried quite a few of the gluten free products she used. Along one of the isles a lady reached down and pet me. Over her mask I could see her eyes smiling at me. I liked people petting me.

We were soon ready to leave and headed to the checkout. Miss M’lu started taking the items from the holder and placing them on the counter.

“What a cute helper you have there,” the clerk commented. He wasn’t wearing a mask I noticed.

“Is he always this well behaved?”

“Actually, he’s a she and her name is Nina.”

“I should have known'” he laughed looking down at me. “You’re too cute to be a boy!”

“She’s in training to be a Therapy Cat, hopefully some day.”

“Looks like she’s off to a good start. She’s so calm and seems to like attention.”

“That she does,” Miss M’lu smiled as we headed out the door.

Next we stopped at our regular grocery store, Brookshire’s. I had been in it once before and just loved all the different smells. I sat in my stroller simply looking at different things as Miss M’lu wheeled me around the store picking up a few items. I noticed some more people wearing masks. No one really paid any attention to me, but I did notice a lady give me a sort of snooty look. A couple of little kids went by us but they were too busy pestering their mom to buy something so they didn’t see me.

We were just about ready to leave when a young man approached us. He must have been lower management because he seemed very uncomfortable talking to us.

“Mm-ma’am”, he slightly stammered, “I’m afraid we don’t allow animals in here.”

“Oh!”   Miss M’lu answered. “I’ve never seen a sign posted to that effect. I’m careful about that. She’s been in here before with no problem. She’s just a kitten in training to be a therapy cat. You can see she’s quiet in her stroller and not running around or touching anything.”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m sorry but it’s our policy, no animals in the store.”

“Okay, I understand. Can I pay for these items or do I just drop them off and leave?”

“It’s up to you,” he said as he rushed away seemingly unsettled.

Apparently he had been told to relay the unsavory message and was glad to get away. Duty done.

Miss M’lu paid for the few items she had gathered and then we left the store. I never went to Brookshire’s again and from what I heard her tell M’ster Doc the next time she went shopping there, new signs were posted at both entrance doors.

After that slightly discomforting experience we went to the car.

“You know, Nina, that was totally unnecessary. I don’t like situations like that and always make sure I check for animal policies before I ever go into a place with you. That poor guy, I felt sorry for him he was so flustered.”

I felt sorry for myself.   I really liked going by the meat and fish market part. From my seat I’d get whiffs of different and tantalizing smells. Oh well…

Undaunted, Miss M’lu took me to another store. It was huge. I had been there a couple of times before. It was Walmart. She often took me there just to walk around, but today she actually had to pick up a couple of things. I noticed several cans of goat’s milk go into my strollers holder. Yum-m! We were heading towards the pharmacy when a young girl noticed me.

“Mom, look a kitten!” she exclaimed pointing at me.

Miss M’lu stopped. “Hi! Do you like cats?” she asked the girl.

“She loves them,” her Mom answered for her. “She wants one so bad.”

I was introduced.

“This is Nina and she’s in training to be a therapy cat. Would you like to hold her?” I asked as I checked with her mom who nodded.

The girl beamed as she held out her hands. Her brother just stood there. Bored.

While the young girl held Nina Miss M’lu spoke to her Mom.

“You know, I foster cats for the SPCA and I could easily arrange a kitten for your daughter.”

“I’m sure you could,” her mother smiled, “but we’re just not ready yet.”

“I want a dog!” the boy put in’

“See what I mean!” the mother said.

“Oh, yes. I understand.”

They were getting ready to continue their shopping so Miss M’lu reached out for me.

“Thank you for helping Nina out with her training,” she told the young girl. “The more she is held by different people the better prepared she’ll be to help others when her time comes. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll have a kitten of your own.”

The girl waved to me and then we headed off in a different direction. We stayed a while longer as Miss M’lu picked up a few more items. Several persons would see me in the stroller and always big smiles followed. I was already making people feel good! A few even petted me, but no one else held me.

When we got to the register the clerk saw me. He was an older person and actually left his register to come around and pet me. He even held me for a few moments. The people in line were all smiling and no one complained about the brief delay. I liked the way he held me and I guess I brightened up his day for a few moments.

“Y’all take care of that cute kitten,” he said in farewell.

As we left the store the greeter smiled at us and wished us a good day! I noticed he was wearing a mask, too. Lately, Miss Mi’lu never left the car without wearing her mask. I had heard her talking to M’ster Doc about something called Covid. I think it was some sort of sickness. I wondered if I would have to wear a mask too. I don’t think I’d like that. Little did I realize the major impact Covid would eventually have on my life!

When we reached the car, Miss M’lu put me in my car seat. Then she collapsed the stroller and put it in back with the purchases.

“I’ll bet you’re tired,” she addressed me. “I have a few more errands to do but I think I’ll put them off for another day. So let’s go home.”

I was having fun but I could feel a nap attack coming on. Sure enough, by the time we drove into the garage I was sound sleep.





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