Sunday, January 13, 2008

CATS (then Sticks, then Books)

I know, it's not "Caturday", it's Sunday. But I just finished reading a very short little book, "James Herriot's Cat Stories." I ssume I don't need to introduce you to Mr Herriot; his books about his practice as a veterinarian in England are ubiquitous. NOTE: if you are not familiar, get thee to the library. Don't close down your computer, don't put on shoes....go in your slippers and jammies NOW. Oh wait, it's Sunday. OK - tomorrow. To the library. Quick. (Don't admit that you've never read Herriot; depending on the librarian, you could have your Library Privileges revoked. Until 2065, and I don't know about you but I don't think I'll be around that long.)

Anyway, it doesn't take much to make me go all over mushy about my kitties. Herriot talks about folks - some elderly - whose lives are made whole, whose hearts are filled, who find true companionship in the form of a cat or two (or in one case, many). Makes me realize what my kitties are, and leads me to wax eloquent. My cats are my pets. My companions, my entertainment, my amusement - my comfort and my girlfriends. They don't tell my secrets. They're appreciative. Not that they'd say so. So where did they come from?

This is the first day I ever saw Evangeline, and was taken at the "meeting room" at the Shelter. She had a different name, but not for long (my adoption certificate just says "black female".) See how tiny she was? What a long tail? And she'd come in with a littermate and seven kittens, whom they were co-nursing. Too young to be a mom, my poor soiled dove. I never saw her babies, but I did see her sister; she was adopted to a nice long-haired boy at the same time.

Her first day home, I wondered how she'd react to those spots that had been Othello's favorites - an old chair and the front windowsill in particular. He's spent 19 years in those places, so they were clearly imbued with his essence. To my surprise, she settled immediately into them.

She spent lots of time in the window, basking in the sun. I always did feel that Othello had a paw in my finding her, and her acceptance of his haunts reinforced that. NOTE: this is before we had even one cat tree in the window; now there are two.

But during the summer we go to our 18th century events, sometimes for as long as five days, and I worried that my pampered ... spoiled rotten pampered treasure of a cat might be lonely by herself. Mr Dearling wasn't sure; one cat is one thing, but two cats -- are TWO things. He was unaccustomed to pets.

Evangeline grew fat . No...she was more like stout . I guess the truth is, she was rotund , -- well -- reubenesque . The vet put her on some prescription low-fat diet food for cats. And one day, when I had gone out to the vet's to buy her bag of food, there was a cage with four little kittens in it in the lobby. They were cute, even if they WERE brown tabbies and not black kitties. Three had blue collars, one had a red one. Miss Red Collar watched from the platform as her brothers tumbled around on the floor.....and when I walked past, she climbed right up the bars, reached out her paw and hooked the side of my skirts as I went past. I can't say I was yanked back, but the receptionist said "They're awfully cute, would you like to see that one?" As I may've said before, rather than grabbing my fatcat food and receipt and fleeing...I said "Oh sure, what the heck?". About 40 minutes later I left, having decided to bring in Mr Dearling to see what he thought of her. (This, mind you, with the Full Knowledge that the only reasonable thing to do is to bring in a new cat of the opposite sex , no exceptions.)

We got to the office, took Ethel (!) out of the cage and put her down. She climbed up the back of Mr Dearling's jeans onto his shoulder and snuggled around his hair, purring loudly. He gently took her down, petted her, she looked at him with those eyes - and the next thing I knew we were there again, cat carrier in hand, and he was dealing with the financial issues. She was all healed from being spayed - she was four months old - and we began the cautious introductions, with Lilliane (Ethel? Ethel who?) enjoying the privacy of the den, complete with her own litter box and food.

This is one of the pictures during "Lilly time", when Evangeline was grumping around the basement so her new sister/kitten/pet/friend could become accustomed to the house. Mr Dearling was napping on the couch, and Lilliane made it perfectly clear: I was nice enough, certainly good enough to clean her litterbox and feed her...but she had found her Hero, her Manperson, her DA! To this day, she is Da's Little girl.

This is Lilliane's Daily Routine - that would be several times a day routine. Mr Dearling complains, in resigned and tender tones, that she won't let him do anything without demanding her ride-and-rub. Might I remind you, this is a six-pound cat and a 200-pound man. The truth? He enjoys the ride-and-rub as much as she does, and when she begs to be put down, only to run back into the kitchen so she can get back up on the table and demand another ride, he relents, complaining, of course.

My feeling? My cats are the heart of my home, the little spark of companionship, warmth, coziness the extra little element of security, of making it feel perfectly safe and lovely. Whenever I go out, be it to the Museum for a day's work or to a weekend in the 18th century or a knitting evening out - the presence of my precious and pampered Daughter-Priestesses of Bast comfort me. How do you feel about your cats, dogs, frogs or whatever serves as the heart of your hearth?

This is an Extremely Rare Moment - but my favorite of all of the pictures of my kitties. I call it "Entwined".

Editor's Note: it is entirely possible that I'm duplicating kitty pictures through this blog. It's my prerogative as an Elderly Person. Wanna make something out of it?


Anonymous said...

Smokey and I often comment to each other, as we are surrounded by the two dogs and two cats, how we just don't *get* people without furry pets. How do they comfort themselves? How do they keep their lap warm in winter? How do they manage to sleep all by themselves? Unanswerable questions.

Iron Needles said...

Love the kitty rescue stories. They touched my heart, being a rescuer, too. Thanks for sharing. I've been reading for about 6 months, and will continue.

Elizabeth said...


Alwen said...

My big furbaby dog Ajax will lay down on my feet if I stop moving. "Stop moving" includes rinsing a cup at the sink or waiting for something to heat in the microwave. Nice warm feet, if they don't go numb because he weighs over 100 lbs!

Jane said...

Such a lovely ode to cats - yours and all the rest of them out there. As I speak, my husband - the "not a cat person" guy - is sitting on the couch with a cat draped about his shoulders. And when he goes up to bed, he'll take the cats with him. Your kitties are just darling, and you should keep posting lots of pictures, duplicats or not.

MollyBeees said...

Love the stories and the kitty pictues. I agree. A house isn't a home without furbabies!

Olga said...

I'd rather have cats and dogs most days, humans talk too much.

Cindy G said...

When I read the Herriot cat stories I tell myself "I will not cry" and then I cry anyway.