Monday, October 19, 2009

Small white cat . . .

I promised a story about my cat, and then I got off on a tangent with the cottage cheese deal, so I'm a day late with this.

Just an aside, did you know how you become a Cat Lady?  You lose count once you have three cats.  I am told this is absolutely true, that they no longer are countable - they blur into a large cat blur.  One day there are three, the next there may be15.  But you won't know it because all you will see is the cat blur composed of cats that can no longer be counted.  Then you are truly a Cat Lady.  I am not even a cat person.  All of the cats I have owned have been mercy cases - someone going to put down a cat, one found in a ditch, that sort of thing.  I loved them all, but I was not IN LOVE with them.

Two years ago during winter holidays, I made the mistake of going to church on the week when they were trying to find homes for the six feral kittens born in the church garage six weeks earlier.  At coffee hour, someone said, "Oh, there's Susan!  Susan will take a cat!  Susan, you will take a kitten, won't you?  We know how you love animals."  I said no - several times.

I named her Holly Berry and headed home.  Driving with the new kitten was a real challenge since I don't usually bring the cat carrier with me to church.  Diana, the culprit who finally wouldn't take no for an answer, had rigged up a box.  It held the kitten for all of five minutes and I had another 40 minutes to drive.  I tried tucking her into my coat.  It worked for a moment or two, but then she squirted out of it!  After alternately putting her back in the box and then back in my coat, we finally arrived home.  There was much hissing and barking (Ayn Chee, the small yappy dog).  The other cat, Smoky, wanted nothing to do with her.  However, Tashi wanted to carry her around!  She was ready and willing to adopt her as her own.  The kitten was amazingly tolerant of Tashi's attention.

I tried to talk my daughter into taking her.  One of her kids is just nuts about cats, and I was going down there for Christmas.  I took the kitten along, fully expecting to come home with an empty cat carrier.  Everyone just loved her!  Before the day was out, so did I.   I knew I didn't want to give her up.  My daughter, of course, was delighted that she wasn't staying on.  But to assuage Rachel's disappointment about the cat, she had pretty much promised her kids a dog.  I'll tell the rest of that story later!

So Holly Berry and I headed home.  I was hooked, but I still didn't consider myself a cat person.  As the weeks wore on, Holly Berry asserted her strong personality.  She was very tiny, and is still tiny for a full grown cat, but size meant nothing.  She and Tashi played together, getting pretty "rough and tumble" at times.  And she also let me know that I was HER pet, not the other way around.  I would wake up in the night when she decided to comb my hair with her claws.  Yes, she groomed me.  She has quit combing my hair, but I still get a good washing several times a day.  My face, my hands, my arms, whatever she can reach.  Dogs have tongues like velvet; cats have tongues like sandpaper.  But it is entertaining in its own way.  She groomed Smoky, too, whether he liked it or not.  She would jump on his back and start licking his head.

Holly Berry has another name - Poltergeist.  She just loves to crawl onto high shelves and pitch stuff on the floor.  Here is a picture of her backside as she sleeps in a cubbyhole in my desk.  She usually throws a few things off the shelf before settling in for a nap.  Okay, okay, I'm a cat person, at least where this cat is concerned.

My vet, Dr. Hoeffler, says the same thing - he is a dog person, except for one cat that really got to him.  He is such a great vet, always has time to chat and obviously just loves animals.  He ignores me completely when he comes into the examination room, focusing on the animal, talking to it, kissing it, totally different from any vet I have ever had.

I told Dr. Hoeffler about Holly's penchant for knocking things on the floor, and that recently she had gotten to a VERY high shelf and knocked an elephant figurine to the floor.  She batted at it with her paw, moving it ever closer to the edge until it finally tumbled.  Then she watched it fall, head cocked, as it smashed into a gazillion pieces.  I watched her do it, but I was not quick enough to stop her.  And by the way, the elephant was nearly as big as she was.  I kind of liked my elephant, and it had been with me for about 20 years, so I was a little irritated.  I told Dr. Hoeffler that I was sure she did such things out of curiosity, just enjoyed watching things happen.

"You don't know that," he said.  "People make a lot of assumptions about what goes on in an animal's mind, but they don't really know.  She may have been thinking, 'That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen!  It has got to go!'"

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