Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Debbie at I Obsess wrote a post recently about cats she and her friends have lost.

I was going to comment about some of my own cats, but then I realized I was actually writing a post. So here it is:

Charles was the kitten my mother finally got from the local shelter after a full year of my sister and me begging constantly for a cat. But Charles hated being a pet. He glared defiantly at everyone. He liked to sneak up behind my sister and me and bite our ankles. Hard. Which was especially scary since we were just little kids when we got him. He beat up on other cats. He was generally an asshole. The kind of cat who could turn a person off from liking cats forever.

But whenever he was sick, or dejected, or wet from a bath, he would curl up next to the nearest person and purr. Sometimes my sister and I used to give him baths when he didn't really need them, just to get him to act nice for us.

Which was really kind of cruel of us, no?

Chicory was so malnourished when we found her under the porch that she had rickets. My mother fed her from a bottle until she grew strong.

She dashed out the door one night, arthritic as she was at the age of eleven, and never came home. We all figured she'd run off to die a good cat's death in the great outdoors, but still, not knowing was worse than having to put her down.

Juliana was a smart one. When she was a kitten, she figured out that the best way to get her lost toys out from under the fridge by knocking down a yard stick my mother had hanging in the kitchen and using it to sweep back and forth under the fridge.

When I went off to college, she sat in the window by the door every night, just as she had every night when I was in high school, waiting for me to come home. Eventually my mother had to send her to live with me, just to keep her from being so sad.

She was so angry at me when I had to leave her with a friend for several months while I lived in a place that didn't allow cats. And then when I got married, and had a human baby, she got angrier. Naively, I had thought that since she loved me, she would love my child just as much, but she was jealous. She started peeing on things, especially the baby's things. She started being mean to everyone.

But I still remembered how she used to curl up under my chin as I slept at night, how her fur as a kitten had been softer than silk.

I still think I failed her because I sent my husband to the vet to put her down when she got sick. But someone had to stay home with the baby.

I haven't had another cat since Jules. My husband is allergic to them.


Awesome Mom said...

I love cats, I have had so many in my life. I am hoping that once we move we will be able to add one to the household even though I am mildly allergic (inherited from my mom and grandma). My grandma loved cats so much that she took all sorts of medications just to be able to live with them.

Debbie said...

aw, man. your writing is always such a punch in the gut. this post is no exception.

thanks for sharing this stuff about your life, J. thanks for sharing anything, ever, because you always make it amazing and insightful and powerful.



Anonymous said...

My sisters and I often divide our childhood into blocks of time based which cat we had at the time. If it was Susie, it was before my youngest sister was born. Then there was Pebbles, whose death from feline luekemia kept us from having a cat for a year. There was the short time when we had Useless whose inability to get the hang of the litter box caused my mother to order him to be sent back to the neighbor from whence he came in exchange for Wizard(our only male cat), who ran away a few months later. And then there was Pepper. She endured for almost twenty years, far beyond our childhoods. She was there throughout all three of our teenage years, and through the first years of my parents' "empty nest". She endured my sister dressing her as a doll and pushing her around the neighborhood in a carriage. She put up with the dog my father talked my youngest sister into getting for her twelfth birthday. When I moved back home after my divorce, she taught my two small children why they needed to be gentle and cautious with cats. She was the presence that held the mice at bay in my childhood home, an old house with many places for a rodent to hide. Once she was gone, there was an almost immediate surge of mice in the house and talk of another cat, but she was last. My father doesn't really care for cats, and now they have two dogs. With no children at home, there was no longer a reason to have one. I'm sorry this is so long but you brought up some wonderful memories. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Let me raise a toast to all the cats in your life .. and the 3 in mine .. the first was called "Schaschlick" (because some cat friend told us they react to names with SCH sounds in them) ..

and then in Fiji we had Misha and Nietzsche ... Nietzsche died of old age and I burried him (and planted a palm tree on top of him .. wonder if the landlord ever yanked that one out) and Misha I just imagine she is still roaming the island of Fiji ... we left her with good friends (who do not have email)

I hope someday soon we are in an environment that allows cats ...

We are cat people .. i fear the day that Julius keeps bugging us for a dog ...

Rebecca said...

You might find the picture of my cat on my blog amusing...

I've always had a cat. It sounds bad, but I've only really had two cats that lasted. The others would run away, or pee on things I hand-made (a quilt!), or worse die.

It's funny how my two cats have (had) seen other kitties and pets come and go. Perhaps, they had something to do with it behind the scenes... some sort of kitty plotting.