Today I’m writing about a few feline friends, not about the gangly stalk that grows near the water and has a fuzzy long brown tip on it, called a cat tail. No, this is about cats of many different colors and designs and various personalities.
When Jane recently lost her honey colored cat named Tabby I was reminded of the inevitable heartaches pet owners face. It is certainly better to “love and lose” than “never to love at all.” But it hurts.
Our line of cats started with Fussy, a mixed gray stray who moved with us one very hot June day from Athens to Cairo, Georgia. She didn’t like the move one bit. We had borrowed Papa’s pickup to move in and Fussy hid within the seat somehow. Yes, I said within. It was hours after our arrival when we finally pried her out of there. But she loved her new, much larger place, a place where she could go outside. She loved it, that is, until our baby was born. She was no longer number one and she knew it. Not long after that she was run over and killed. The whole neighborhood mourned with me.
Misty was a soft gray Persian cross. She had some dignity about her and a deep love for life’s little comforts. But she was cruel to the bird population. Almost every day in season she caught a mockingbird and left only a small fluff of feathers as evidence. She knew how to make herself at home in a rocking chair but minded her manners when it came to food on the table. She knew her boundaries. And Misty never died. On record, she still after forty years hasn’t died. But we lost her. She leaped from Charles’ truck on the way home from getting her shots and we never found her. It may seem the better way to lose a pet but you never stop wondering what happened to them.
Then there was Tigger and after him Toby, or Ybot as he came to be known. William and his friends turned his name backwards to irritate Julie and the name stuck. Ybot was a fun, good natured cat but very naughty. He never learned his manners. He would help himself to any food no matter whether it was on the table, the top of the refrigerator, or already on someone’s plate. He wasn’t picky at all. He liked tomatoes, a stick of butter, okra and potato salad. A sealed loaf of bread was not safe from Ybot. The day he was hit by a car Julie and I both cried for hours. I said that was it for cats. I just couldn’t take the trauma again. But, of course, it doesn’t work that way.
I transported a cat three hundred miles to become a companion to my mother. Marbles was a beauty of “marbled” gold, cream and brown. She was a trial on the trip because she was so smart she could work her way out of her crate no matter how I fastened it. But we both survived and she became a much-loved member of Mamma’s household. She spent many hours lying in Mamma’s comfortable lap under her book or crochet work but found time also to annihilate the mouse population. We all loved Marbles. Ironically, Mamma was at my house when she got a call from my sister informing her gently that Marbles had died.
Juanita and Angela Jordan have taken such cute pictures of some of their many cats. But what I remember most vividly is Juanita’s care of two very elderly cats. She said she was running a feline geriatric ward. Those two cats died within months of each other at the ripe old age of twenty-two years.
We’ve had a long line of resident cats at Cairo Animal Hospital. They are only paid by having free room and board but have important jobs: welcoming shy new visitors, catching an occasional mouse, allowing children under supervision to play with them and just making the hospital feel like home. The most memorable of the hospital cats might be Singey. That’s “singe” with a y on the end. She got her name because of the circumstances under which she arrived at the hospital.
The goldy yellow cat was brought in while in great trauma by a man who had been burning a large brush pile. The cat’s face was blackened, her ears were burned to nubs, her whole body singed. The man said he had no idea a cat was hiding in the brush heap when he lit it. Next thing he knew there was a streak of fire and a chilling cry as that cat ran out.
Singey became a vital part of the Cairo Animal Hospital staff. With loving treatment over many months she did heal. She had no eyelids which gave her sort of a spooky look along with her cropped ears. But she didn’t let her injuries cause her to be bitter. She was a sweet companionable cat. In fact, one family was so drawn to her, they pleaded with the staff to let them adopt her. When she ran away from her new home it seemed she was gone for good. Than another “Good Samaritan” brought her to the hospital where, of course, she was immediately recognized. The techs then declared they’d never let her go again. So she enjoyed a long good life with many visitors asking to “see Singey.”
I had occasion not long ago to ride with Charles on a farm call. He knew I love that farm family and would enjoy seeing them for a few minutes while he did his job. The teenage daughter showed me her fifteen cats. They have a wonderful life in the barn where, as you can imagine, there are no longer any mice. The cats have such interesting designs and colors–gray striped, calico, solid black, mixed grays, tortoise shell. This young lady saves her dollars so she can take each of her loved cats to the vet and keep them healthy. She knows them all by name, knows which ones don’t like to be touched, which ones are jealous, etc. It was fun seeing all her cats, although I’m quite happy with only two.
When we started out from our driveway the other day we heard a plaintive kitten’s meow. Our two cats are prone to hop in the car when they find an open door. But that meow didn’t sound like either of them. Upon investigation, which involved getting down on the pavement with our old knees trying to see that little cat, we finally found him under the hood. Charles got hold of him for only a minute. We would have tried to place him but he was gone in a flash of orange fur and prickles.
Our own two cats, Sassy and Cramer, live a very enviable life with all the luxuries a cat could ever want: plenty of food and water, more veterinarian attention than they want, lots of comfy places to curl up in, room to roam. Sassy occasionally catches a lizard but only slightly threatens the daring mockingbirds. Cramer feels no compulsion to any unnecessary action but is content to be a lazy cat. They both purr and enjoy a good petting, will patiently allow attention from the children–only when they’re in the mood.
When all is said and done, thank God for all pets. Life would be so dull without them!