Friday, March 10, 2006
Tina, of RIDE ALONG WITH ME -- just posted a heartwarming entry about her Denver Bronco orange colored cat named Elway.
Until now, I don't believe I've written about any of the pets I've had.
Did I hear a collective gasp of disbelief? Or was that collective gas?
But the dearth of kitty tales is over. Dogs, gerbils and fish, on the other hand, will just have to wait. Tonight I will tell one about cats that will push the AAAWWWW meter into the red zone. Or not.
I've had a bunch of cats, but the smartest and friendliest were two half Siamese kittens, a brother and a sister, that I got for my children through friends. As I recall we were invited over to play with the little cats and the next thing I knew we were taking two of them home. It was a trick.
These former friends of mine had a place about a half hour from where I live, in what passes for horse country around here. He was a print broker, one of the most obscenely easy ways a person can make a boatload of money without much of an education. It was so lucrative for my friend that he basically had a license to print money. So they bought a huge place with sufficient acreage and pasture to put up a horse barn, build an Olympic sized indoor dressage ring and feed dozens of warmbloods [a type of dressage horse].
Needless to say if you've got a barn, you've got cats. And that's where Laura and Hardy [not their real names] came from. He was all dark gray and gangly, like his father, no doubt, with claws that wouldn't retract. She was petite and pretty with the classic bluepoint coloring of her mother. They didn't look related. In fact, Hardy's only Siamese trait was his distinctive meow, which was more of a yowl. Laura, on the other hand, looked Siamese, but sounded like a sweet little kitty kitty with a teeny tiny me-you.
One of the perks of working in an ad agency is that I learned how to meow like a kitten thanks to an art director I knew. He taught me how to make my kitty sounds in the back of an elevator so I could have the pleasure of watching people look around trying to find the poor creature. But I digress.
We got the kitties when they were eight weeks old and from the beginning I noticed that they would call to one another and seek each other out. Never far apart, they always slept together, usually entwined, but sometimes curled up in two circles side by side.
When they were about twelve weeks old, not quite half grown, and still pretty small, Hardy went outdoors for some fresh air. He'd been out been many times before, never wandering very far, so I wasn't worried about him. But just like a kid, the bigger an animal gets, the more mischief they can get into.
Shortly after he went out, I began to hear some very loud and distinctive me-yowling. HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME!!!!! In a heartbeat, Laura was at the door begging to go outside. She'd have to wait.
First I had to see where Hardy was, since I knew he was the source of all the whining and complaining. A quick search of my tiny front yard and I was soon looking skyward at the pathetic cries coming from the top of our evergreen tree. It's almost four stories high. And guess who was at the top, unable to get back down?
Going up is always easy for cats, especially in this particular tree, because the branches are like stairs. Coming down should have been easy, but it wasn't. Maybe he was afraid of heights.
So I sent my younger daughter up the tree to get him. She had climbed the tree a lot and made her way to the top rather quickly, only to discover that she couldn't reach up far enough to grab him. And no amount of coaxing would get him to budge.
Meanwhile, the me-yowling never stopped. HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME!!! His sister continued pacing around by the front door me-youing in response.
My brother's in trouble, I have to help. Please please let me go out. Hmmmmm. Should I let her out or not? She was comically tiny still and would remain half her brother's size for the rest of her life. I figured she'd just become part of the problem.
All I needed was for two kittens to get stuck up at the top of the tree. Then we'd have to call the fire department, assuming they would bother to come. Or get another kid to climb up the tree and be sued when he or she fell. Luckily, I was pretty sure my own kids wouldn't sue. I couldn't go up myself because as big as the tree was, the individual branches weren't strong enough for the weight of an adult.
Finally, against my better judgment, I let Hardy's sister out the door. She headed straight for the tree and started climbing. I then proceeded to watch in amazement as that tiny cat negotiated her way up to the top branches, never hesitating once. She greeted her brother by touching noses, turned around and began to show him the way back down. Sheesh, you big dummy, do I have to bail you out every time?
She literally turned around and started down the tree, one branch after another, with him right behind her.
Had she been up the tree before? I don't know. All I know is that some kind of communication took place between them and he was no longer a scaredy cat when she got up to where he was.
Several years later she disappeared the night my younger daughter graduated from high school. We live near a forest preserve and coyotes like to cruise the neighborhoods for easy pickins. But she disappeared before we realized that we had to keep our pets in at night.
Every spring we used to see signs posted all over town for missing cats. It wasn't until the night I actually saw a coyote ambling down the sidewalk around the corner from my house that I understood why our little cat was gone. Along with all the other ones.
When she didn't return, her brother wandered around aimlessly, me-yowling at me for days. He seemed puzzled, like he was asking where the heck his sister was. I told him I didn't know and I was sorry she was gone. Hey, women over fifty talk to cats. Everybody knows that.
A few weeks later I noticed that he had latched on to me more than ever. Both kids were off to college. It got so I couldn't take a walk without him following me like a dog down the sidewalk. He would greet me at the door each night, sit on my chest in the morning to wake me up, and me-yowl nonstop when I had been gone away on business. In fact, after trips, I had to pick him up and hold him for a good half hour while he chatted with me about everything that happened while I was out of town.
I realized that self feeding and self watering dishes weren't such good company when I was gone. So I started asking my parents to come over to visit Hardy because he really loved company. They were a little skeptical about visiting with a cat, but he soon put them at their ease, sitting between them every time they stopped by. He would put one paw on my stepmother's lap, then switch and put his other paw on my father's lap. And me-yowl away.
He was close to eighteen years old when I came home one night and he wasn't there to greet me. For the first time ever he wasn't at the door. I found him lying on the sofa too weak to raise his head, his bladder full to bursting. He had just been to the vet two days before for the same problem. So that night I decided I had to put him down.
NEXT: The story of his demise and the strange German DOKTOR at the emergency vet center.