Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Life in Cats, take two

This is me and my sister in 1973. I am on the left, holding Charlie (probably). My sister is holding an unremembered cat.

This, of course, is the fabulous Henry

I've been thinking about cats again. Dead ones, because sadly, all my cats are dead. A long time ago, I wrote a post called 'My Life in Cats' on Stories from Korea. You can read the original post here, if you want. I think I was reminded of my life in cats by a couple of things. Swistle, who writes a blog I really like, recently got a new cat that reminds me of Henry. And, the snappy red purse I wrote about recently reminds me of the dead cat tote I bought to take the mind off the death of my sweet cat Lewis many years ago. They are both bright red and cheerful, only the new red bag cost 1.29 at Goodwill, and the old dead cat tote was a brand new Kenneth Cole that ran me WAY more than a bag of potato chips. You may remember that Henry died in February, and I think I might be almost ready to re-cat. But right now, I'm thinking of cats past:

Charlie- I got Charlie when he or she was a kitten and I was a small child. The mother cat lived in my Aunt Luella and Uncle Butch's barn and I had my choice of kittens. He was black and white and ever so cute. Unfortunately, Charlie and I did not have long together; the cat had some sort of seizure and dropped dead in my arms shortly after. It's a wonder I wasn't scarred for life, don't you think?

Smoky- My dad found Smoky tied up in some trees in the woods near where we lived, and cut him down and brought him home. He was a beautiful big gray long-haired cat who liked to yowl and car surf. One morning he rode off on my dad's car and never returned. I find myself partial to gray cats to this day. There don't seem to be a whole lot of gray cats, though; I wonder why?

SillyBilly- My dad found SillyBilly, a beautiful calico cat, when she was a kitten. He's always been a little vague about the details of this late night acquisition, but my sister and I were thrilled the next day when we got up and found our new pet under the bed where we kept our scraps of material for sewing. You know, I'm getting a little suspicious of these mysterious cat-finding trips of his, now that I think about it. Anyway, she lived with us for quite a while until she got hit by a car down the street and was returned to us in a cardboard box by one of the neighbors.

Fluffer- Fluffer was the son of SillyBilly and was a fluffy black cat. SillyBilly had three kittens, and my dad made us choose just one to keep. We went to school, and when we came home, Fluffer was an only kitten. He was very mellow and would let us dress him up and push him around the block in a stroller, but I don't remember what happened to him. I think he just disappeared. We lived in sort of a strange neighborhood, and when someone in MY family thinks the neighbors are weird, that's saying something.

Chebosco- Chebosco was a male orange and white cat with a wonderful personality. His middle name was Yumpsa, which means 'jumper' in one of the Scandinavian languages. Probably. I might need to go look that up. Chebosco means 'shower' in Spanish. Possibly. At least, I thought so at seven or eight, so it must be true. I haven't heard it on Dora or Diego, though, so I'm starting to get skeptical. I don't know where he came from or where he went. That's funny, because I really liked him. You know what? I'm getting a little suspicious of these unexplained cat disappearances and might need to have a little chat with my dad.

Katie and Kelly- When I got out of high school, I worked in a pet store for a year or so before I went to college. I should totally write a post about that place because it had everything: flashers, larceny, pathological liars, and mud puppies, which my friend Cammy and I might or might not have liberated in the middle of the night. One day, a kid brought in these two teeny tiny siamese kittens and said his male cat had dragged them home. They were only two or three weeks old, and I took them home and we bottle-fed them until they were strong and healthy enough to eat cat food. Katie, the boy cat, was always glossy and a little wild- he moved around my parents' neighborhood for years until finally they didn't see him anymore. Okay, now I'm definitely going to talk to my dad about this. I just hope he doesn't have some cat-fur quilt hidden in his closet or something. Kelly, the girl cat, was the sweetest cat ever. She had an obsession with pushing her paws into things and was a big licker. She was always sickly, probably because she had to have formula instead of catmilk, and died when she was just a couple of years old. I don't know if my dad has an alibi or not.

Lewis and Clark- After Lloyd and I got married and moved to Pensacola, the first thing we did was adopt Lewis and Clark. Their original names were Tyler and Cassie, and they were not related but had bonded deeply in their foster home. Clark (formerly known as Tyler) was an old male orange and white cat, and Lewis (formerly Cassie) was a sweet, younger, long-haired gray and white female cat. We had a pleasant, but short-lived relationship with both of them. Well, I did anyway. Clark didn't care for Lloyd, and the feeling was mutual. He moved in with the neighbors, much to Lewis' dismay, and soon died of feline leukemia. Lewis liked to follow us on walks through the neighborhood, and one day she followed us down the street, then peeled off to investigate something. When we returned, she was laying dead on the street. I was very traumatized by this and embarked on some immediate retail therapy. One of my purchases was a bright red leather tote bag by Kenneth Cole. I carried it for months and called it my 'dead cat tote'. People looked at me strangely, but that's never bothered me, and it made me feel lots better. After Hurricane Katrina, I donated the dead cat tote, along with my entire work wardrobe, to hurricane victims who were trying to relocate and start new jobs. I hope it helped somebody else as much as it helped me. I got some additional cheer out of it, because it was a splendid tax deduction. Thanks, Lewis!

Bella - I got Bella as a kitten from someone at work shortly after Lewis died. An email message was going around about kittens available for adoption and one of them was a calico, like SillyBilly. I wanted that one, but it was already taken. I decided to get one anyway, and picked out Bella. Her name is Bella because I wanted something derived from SillyBilly and chose a girlish version of Billy. She is kind of a strange cat, not super friendly, and she hated Lloyd on sight. One day, when she wasn't very old, she didn't come home and we started looking around the neighborhood. We didn't have any luck, but a day or two later she hobbled home. We took her to the vet and found that she had two broken legs. Apparently this is a common cat injury when they get hit by a car. The car strikes them, breaking the leg on the car side, then they get tossed down the street, breaking bones on the other side. After several very expensive surgeries, with pins and everything, Bella was almost good as new. I called her the six million dollar cat, and Lloyd called her that stupid f&*!#@g cat. She had a little more bad luck a year or so later when she got lost during Hurricane Dennis and had to spend a week or so at the pound until we found her. She had a collar on so they would have been able to call us right away, except she wouldn't let them near her to read the tag. You know, maybe I need to have a talk with Lloyd, too. After I get done with my dad. She moved with us from Florida to Louisiana, but when we left Shreveport for Korea, we decided to leave her with some Catholic friends there. They immediately took her to family pet night at their local parish and had her blessed with the special water, and she still lives there happily in holy catrimony.

And this brings us to Henry. I'm not sure what else I can say about Henry, except for he was the best cat ever. In fact, I would probably already have a new cat if he wasn't so great. I just keep thinking that another cat would be a disappointment, but I might be almost ready to embrace a cat that's not Henry. I'll keep you posted.

And that's the last of the cats. For now. Don't worry, when it's cat thirty, I plan to keep a VERY close eye on my dad. And Lloyd.


C Mike said...

The chickens, Anna! How about you write about the chickens?

Anna Jane said...

I find it interesting that your cats are the same name as my kids. SillyBilly was totally on our name list, but alas, Henry didn't come out with the whiskers we were looking for in that name. Jane is a lovely name for your next cat, though :)