Thursday, December 2, 2010
Dewey's Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions
Well, this one made me cry. I'm not usually that big a sentimental fool, but reading these stories about beloved cats and their owners really got to me. It didn't help that my three brats were lounging on or near me as I read the book. Although it's suitable for just about anyone, I would NOT recommend this book to someone who just doesn't understand the joy and love and bond that pet lovers have.
In that vein, here are three stories about my silly kitties, plus a story about one who is no longer with me:
Felicity is my first and oldest cat. She is a stubborn little tortoise-shell and is the delight of my life when she's not trying to be the bane of my existance. There are a million and one stories I could share, but I'll start with this one. I had invited a couple of friends over for dinner. Marcy had met my cats before, but Shawn had not, so I warned him that the princess was a VERY friendly little cat who demanded her due attention from everyone who walked through my door. Even so, NONE of us were prepared for her to fall utterly in love with him. Felicity did everything but hump his leg, she wanted his attention so badly. We were sitting down to eat and she threw herself onto her back with a dramatic yowl. Shawn looked down and she was shimmying on her back, trying to entice him into rubbing her belly. "But, but, but we JUST MET!!!" he sputtered. Marcy and I died laughing.
Greymalkin is my big fat gray lump cat. He has a white spot on his chin, a patch on his belly, and 4 white socks. Malkin is also an attention hound (pardon the phrase) and is very sweet and placid in nature. However, he was a VERY hyper kitten. WE first met when Marcy (the same one from before) came to pick me up for a reading we were attending at the main library. (Donna Jo Napoli- great YA author if you haven't read her, you should) As we went to walk out the door of my apartment, this little gray & white cat tried to walk in. "No, sweetie" I said, scooping him up. "You don't live here." He had a collar, but no tags. I suspected that he belonged to the neighbors 2 apartments down. A few days later, I was lugging a basket of laundry to the car and was stopped by another neighbor. "Is that your cat?" she asked, pointing. I looked and there my little friend was, rolling on his back in a patch of sunshine on the sidewalk, right under a tree where a trapped squirrel was having a fit. "No," I said. "but he thinks he is. He tried to come in the other night." I noticed his collar was gone. My neighbor said that he'd tried to get into her place too and her dog nearly killed him. We talked a few minutes more and decided that he must have belonged to the people I had first assumed, but they'd done a midnight moveout and it looked like they'd left him behind. (GRRR) "We can't leave him out here" said my neighbor. "He'll be killed." (At the time, I was living in a building right off I-65 with my street being a connector for the on/off ramps in either direction and a lot more traffic than I expected when I moved in) I explained that I already had 2 cats (Felicity and her brother Donohue) and it wasn't safe to just take him in without having a vet check him over. She asked how much it would cost to do that- I didn't know, so I went back in and called my regular vet to ask. When I went back out and told her that they'd said it would be $40, she handed me $20 and said "I'll pay half if you'll take him in." Well, I didn't get my laundry done that day, but I did get a 3rd cat!
Nightshade is my sweet little rescue kitty. A little black & white thing- her coloring is almost the exact same placement as Malkin's. One of the police officers I work with found her huddled down on the side of a busy street. She'd been abused and abandoned. Since they already had several pets, his wife wouldn't let him keep her. He sent out a department wide email with a photo asking if anyone was interested in taking her in. I called him at once and said "I want her." The first few weeks were traumatic for all of us. Malkin wanted to play, Liss was furious that I'd brought another cat into HER home, Shady was terrified of everything, and I was off work with a knee injury and in a lot of pain. We've all since recovered/adjusted. Shady & Malk sleep together a lot, play together, and generally enjoy each other. Liss has come to accept her and every now and then the girls team up to terrorize Malkin after he's been mean to one or both of them. She's still very skittish and leery of new people, but has accepted me as HER human and loves to cuddle up and purr to me. One of my favorite moments with her occurred a few weeks after she came to live with us. She was tearing around the house, like cats do for no reason, and as I was walking through the door way from the kitchen to the living room, leapt up and clung to the door frame. Nightshade is a strong little kitty and she'd managed to leap high enough to put her on eye level with me. I stopped, startled, and said "well, hello!" Shady cheerfully chirruped at me and leaned forward to lick my nose before springing down and rampaging through the house again.
Last story: my beloved, late, Donohue kitty. He and Felicity were litter mates and the first cats I'd ever owned. He was solid coal black with dark amber eyes. Donohue was named after my favorite chef-instructor at the culinary school I was attending when I acquired my kittens. Felicity's name came easily, but it took a couple of weeks to name him. Nothing seemed right. One night after I'd come home from work & school, I was in the kitchen making a snack. I realized that my little boy was following everything I did with his eyes, just like the chef had. "Well, aren't you just a little Donohue?" That got his attention. MEOW. I looked at him again. "Should that be your name? Are you Donohue?" MEOW! "Donohue?" MEOW! And that was it.
However, that's not the story I was referring to earlier. This is. 2 days before Christmas 2001, I came home to find that Felicity had been violently ill. When she threw up several more times in the span of 30 minutes, I knew something was wrong. I called my then-boyfriend (hereafter referred to as the Schmuck) and raced out the door to an all-night vet's office. They weren't sure what she'd gotten into (no room for a tree in my small place, so she hadn't swallowed tinsel), but she was dehydrated and listless, so they decided to keep her overnight. The schmuck had arrived and calmed me down enough to drive back to my apartment. (MY BABY! She's so small- what if I never see her again?!?) Well, we walked in without her and Donohue was just crazy. It suddenly hit me- this was the first time since birth that he and Felicity had EVER been separated. They'd even gone to their vet appointments together. He was so freaked out that I broke my rule and let him sleep with us. (Felicity doesn't sleep- she bats my ears, pries my eyes open, sticks her head in my mouth, and makes a general nuisance of herself, so just to keep it fair NONE of the cats sleep with me) He was a little happier about that development. Now, I have to explain that D had never really cared for the schmuck. Liss tolerated him, but D loathed him. (and that's how I learned to trust my cats when it came to boyfriends) Anyway, we crawled into bed, me on the inside against the wall, Schmucko on the outside. Donahue started at out feet, but crawled up and was balanced on my back-at first. I was dimly aware of him burrowing down between us as I drifted off. Then I was rudely awakened by a THUD and a yelp of "WHAT THE HELL?!?" I looked to the other side of the bed and saw the Schmuck sprawled on the floor. Donahue was lying beside me, snug against my back, with all 4 paws out in front of him and a VERY satisfied look on his furry face. He had apparently managed to PUSH my boyfriend OUT of the bed. The Schmuck got mad when I started laughing hysterically (Donohue was purring quite contentedly) and stormed off to spend the rest of the night asleep in the living room.
So there you have the first of many kitty stories you will encounter on this blog. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much I enjoyed the memories they brought back while typing them!