Thursday, September 29, 2011

On the Subject of Cats

Is there such a thing as a normal cat? This is not a rhetorical question. I am trying to determine whether there is something about me (some dark, pernicious influence) that has caused each and every one of my feline companions to turn psycho.

My childhood cats were clearly suicidal. They demonstrated this from time to time by "making a mess" (to use my mother's euphemism) on the couch in my father's study. My father's study was his sanctuary, on a par with the Forbidden City. Furthermore, he HATED cats. So why, I ask you, was my father's study the ONLY place in the house where this act of feline atrocity was committed?

My first adulthood cat was named Bear-Bear because, as a kitten, she resembled a small fuzzy black bear cub. She was supremely affectionate and I loved her dearly. At some point, though, she began to appropriate articles of clothing (odd socks being a favorite). She would carry them out from the bedroom in her mouth, lay them carefully on the living room floor and massage them with her front paws making odd little bleating noises as she did so. Sometimes she would switch from socks to bathroom sets -- towels, washcloths, even an occasional bath mat. On one occasion she dragged out a pair of my husband's jeans.

Pretty Paws, a stray acquired by my animal-loving daughter, spent the entire day on the roof of our house which, in time, became decorated from corner to corner with dried cat turds. This same cat perfected a quite credible imitation of human speech. "Hrrrow!" she yowel, "Hrrrow, hrrow, hrrow!" Her preferred time to practice this talent was three a.m. or thereabouts, thus waking the entire household with her eerie monologue.

Pasha was a fluffy, cream-colored cat with blue eyes, slightly crossed. He adored my mother and would perch on the back of her reclining chair tenderly licking her hair. If someone other than my mother occupied the reclining chair, Pasha would wander in circles, meowing piteously, stopping only to gaze in bewilderment at the chair with its alien occupant. Pasha also permitted himself to be captured and molested, on a regular basis, by my daughter's French lop, even though he could have easily escaped either by clawing his way to freedom or jumping out of reach. In the history of cognitively-challenged cats, Pasha stands out as a stunning example. He was friendly though and welcomed all kinds of strange cats into our yard and into his presence. I once discovered him seated companionably beside a scruffy tom. It was raining steadily at the time and the two of them were occupying a large flower pot that was gradually filling up with water.

My current feline companion is a tuxedo female who, when I purchased her, seemed not only normal but notably calm and sociable. Consequently, I named her Serenity which turned out to be a misnomer. Serenity perceives my family, especially my youngest grandson, to be true descendants of Attila, the Hun and rushes to hide behind the stove the minute they cross the threshold of my door. Like Pasha, she is a licker, but a licker with a vengeance. Thus I am often awakened at three or four in the morning with the sensation of a small, sandpaper tongue scraping lovingly against my ear.

My daughter, who has never had a normal cat either, is the current owner of a long-haired, ginger-colored male called Marmalade Lion. M. Lion is prone to climbing on people's laps where he perches tenuously purring and waving his tail simultaneously which means (1) that he is please and agitated at the same time, or (2) that he hasn't yet decided whether he is pleased OR agitated and is currently entertaining both possibilities. At some point he is apt to nip you on the arm prior to jumping down as if he'd suddenly decided you were to blame for his cognitive dissonance. M. Lion has a particularly unpleasant-sounding meow which sounds like someone with a megaphone whining in a New York accent.

My son-in-law appears to believe there is such a thing as a normal cat and that he is uniquely qualified to choose one. I  find this position somewhat arrogant but I'm open to any possibility...


  1. Great blog, B.
    Like your cat, Serenity, I used to have a cat that I named Saint Francis because he "adopted" me when I worked at St. Francis Academy. However, he definitely wasn't the patron saint of animals.
    He eat Tyler's mother hamster and brought her headless body down to my living room and set it at my mother-in-law's feet.
    Then over the next month, he ate the dad and the eight babies that we were trying to save. He kept getting into the hamster cage, no matter what I did.
    I remember the night he ate the last hamster. I was in bed and the hamster cage was on my chest of drawers with TWO encyclopedias on top of it to protect it. I heard the books drop and then a little "eht". No more hamsters.
    Ooooh, how gross. I'm very glad I put this on your blog instead of my own.

  2. And I ended up calling him Frank instead of Saint Francis.