THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING TWO CATS

When we sat down last October to adopt our four month old babies, Katy and Pastel, we had only about an hour with them before we chose them.  Pastel was easy.

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Her coat feels like silk and she has an amazing dividing line between gray and peachy pinky white down the middle of her face, making her possum-like.  Or as if she has an exoskeleton.  She has exactly the coloring of Katy, a typical calico, only Pastel’s colors were stirred a bit before baking.  Her spots turned to textures, and the black and the caramel brown lost their intensity.  Makes sense:  she is a dilute calico.

She has a third eyelid problem with one eye,  and we are on the road to that solution.

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Katy is beautiful, and stockier than Pastel.  They are women of their times as they both have green tattoos on their abdomen.  These tattoos contain no written message: the shapes warn unknown vets, “I have been fixed, don’t bother.”

As we started the paperwork, the adoption counselor noticed that Katy had already been adopted and returned.  That thought was interesting to me, but at that point we did not know the little standoffish Katy the way we do now.  I thought it was a better than ever reason to adopt her.

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Katy does not cuddle, which is probably why she was returned.  And if we had only one cat,  it would have to be a cuddler.  But we have two, and both can be who they need to be.  We pet Katy often during the day so she will get used to love, and that we don’t expect anything from her.  We tell her she is smart and beautiful.

This is the thing about Katy.  I have never seen a cat so in love with her water.

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Above is the beloved water bowl.  It is sitting on a pet mat that my friend Zoe had manufactured.  It is a patchwork of the images on some of the various patterns of linoleum I found, one beneath another,  when renovating our old house.  The rose pattern seen here is from the thirties.  We got the first  sample created.

Katy sits with her arms around this water bowl.  She stares at it with love.  She pats the water, then she drinks.  She runs when she hears water running, exploring the myriad of sources in the house.  She is in heaven.  At the pool, she pats the water from the side.  I wonder if she sees her reflection out there.  She does not in the sink, tested it.

And of course Katy does not come inside at night until Pastel is accounted for and in.  Pastel is the identified baby of the family and Katy runs herd.  It is her job, and the way she loves.  The cuddling will come around.

Meanwhile, Pastel realizes she needs a raison d’etre as well.  Secretarial.

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THE WAR WITH THE BLACK CAT 2007-08

Poor Boston had ten acres to defend.  Our vet said every cat needs ten acres, and I was relieved that what we had matched her needs.  We had no more money for land.  Ten acres represents a sizable job for one kitty.  Boston, as smart as she was, had been up to the task, but one bad black kitty, male I think, really took a bite out of Boston’s pride (and her neck) , and this was just about the time that Ben presented himself to the two of us.

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I’m not sure that Ben ever pulled his share of the load with the acreage.  He was such a home boy, and man, he shot quick like lightening between your legs and into the house when the back door opened.  You could not even see him, and I thought if I ever took one of those “old woman” falls, one that begins the end of one’s life, it would be from Benjamin flying between my legs.

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The black cat took a bite out of Ben’s neck too, at least they had that in common for a while.

A narcissist would say that the bites were part of a plan.  A narcissist sees the world only through his own filter.  What about little dead Ben, at the maximum age of four?  How could this short life be part of a plan? A narcissist might think about it and say “Have you ever seen that black cat again?”  I would have to say no, but I don’t want to interpret these events only through my own filter.

A writer the other day said it was very unsettling to read about one’s self in another’s book as a minor character; he and his parents, all three, were writers.  The mean black cat had an agenda, Ben had an agenda, and Boston had an already  established my-ten-acres-and-mine-only agenda.  Perhaps when an event is part of a “plan”, and a person observes this, what he is really commenting about is the importance or not, in YOUR personal little drama.

The over-sensitive must rail against the dawning of this light and say “No, no!  Ben’s short life was meant for much more than stimulating the memory of an old beau!”  You see, Ben looked a lot like Glenn as a twenty-something, and we were yet to meet again.

For all I know, Ben could have established for himself an amazing street reputation, you know, like the Disney Tramp.  Probably not as famous, as he was too young, but he was certainly living large within his orb.  His coming around was only one of many good things he did for me.

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/the-world-according-to-cats/  See my first post in this narrative.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CATS

Of course little Ben is now dead;  it probably was my fault as I know so little about men when it comes right down to it.  Could have been the mackerel but he had other problems.  What a fine spirit for life the little man had, wiggling his too fat, compact, straw-orange body.  “I am Ben, Love Me!”, was his usual introduction, whether he was nosing into the bedroom in the morning, or meeting a new friend for the first time.  Zoe said he had such a spirit and called me immediately when she found out he had died.  A selfish person might say his job was finished.

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The fact that he was orange had a lot to do with his place in my life.  Are not most who come to me orange?  And left-handed?  I am sure Benjamin was left-handed, as sure as I was when his vet said he was indeed missing six teeth.  He chewed rather unsuccessfully, and she should have told me why.  I couldn’t figure it out myself, men being somewhat of a mystery.   She did not tell me the first time we went to see her, the time she docked his bloody spaghetti tail, the result of some homeless-related brawl.  Ben grew up on the street, which around here is a farm-to-market road.  Somebody dumped his family.

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The straw-orange boy who would become Benjamin (or Bobcat Ben, as Geoff would say) came around to the back door replacing a wild long-haired orange kitty who had been hanging around of late.  At first I thought Ben was the former.  Blinking my eyes, I realized that orange had replaced orange.  Where the long-haired orange kitty was silky, Ben’s coat looked like straw.  And it felt like straw to the touch.  As he began to experience a more normal diet, his coat improved, but not much.  He was a straw man.  Around his muzzle, he had a darker five o’clock shadow like Fred Flintstone.

The color of the two orange kitties was the same, but oh the personalities differed!  Long-haired orange kitty never said a thing to me.  Soon-to-be-Benjamin stood his little ground at the base of the back steps and declared “I want you to be my Mama!”.  It was obvious that he was looking for a family and there was only me here, and of course, Boston.  We could only imagine how happy she would be about this new addition.

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KATY IS A HEROINE

Katy is the more quiet of our two new five month olds.  She sleeps at the foot of the bed as opposed to on my head, as Pastel does.  Her motor is more subtle.  She often stands just out of reach.  But she is a beauty and very smart.  So we have one academic and one little spook.

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They were raised in a Humane Society cattery, so especially with Katy, we don’t expect her to come to us all the time.  And she doesn’t.  Pastel (aka: Little Spook, Inside Out Girl, Patches Kittens (yes, plural), Skeleton Girl) is much more actively loving.

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Having been with us for about a month, everything is new.  Outside is new, wind, bugs, sunshine is new.  Laying in grass, potty only in certain places.  All brand new.  People food is an entirely overwhelming concept in which we do not engage too much.  But enough that they must be outside when we are cooking.

Last night they were, and also for dinner and clean-up.

Huge screaming started out in the dark as I finished up.  We bolted out the back and saw the form of a big dark cat and blazing eyes (it was after all Halloween).  Pastel was nowhere and Katy was bolting around like a pinball in a machine.   We chased off the bad guy, and tried to get Katy inside, and then look for Pastel.  Stumbling for shoes, flashlights, and cursing, here was something else our young ones had to learn about.  So frustrating.

Katy wouldn’t come in.  She acted they way they both did the first afternoon we introduced them to  the outside.  On that day we would get close, and they would jet away.  They both were so quick.  To end our first introduction to outside, we had to trap them to get them back into safety.  That was a month ago and Katy was acting the same way, like she had lost her understanding of our back yard.  Like she had lost her mind.

It felt like we would never get her in so we could start the search for Pastel.  Katy ran to the big tree by the barn, Glenn following with flashlight.  Then he heard Pastel, way up in the great tree, thirty or forty feet.  He got the longest extension ladder, put it out all the way and tipped his body to capture Pastel like her mama did, on her neck.  Need I say climbing a tree was also a brand new experience for Pastel?

Glenn brought Pastel in the back door, and Katy followed silently in.  Mission accomplished.