Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Memorable felines

I always had a cat, growing up.  Early blogs of mine tell of Blondie, my favorite feline of my youth.  But after we were married and had kids, we had cats adopt us.  There were many.  Open the front door and in walks an adorable cat.  It meows and rubs against your leg so affectionately that suddenly you have a cat.  Of course it is true, what they say about dogs may have masters, but cats have staff.  All those sayings about cats have at least a strong element of truth.  Thousands of years ago cats were worshipped in Egypt, and somehow they never got over it.  If this intimidates you, you become a cat hater.  If this amuses you, you become a cat lover.

We had a cat named "Mahershallelhashbaz" (which, roughly translated, is: "hasten the spoil, rush on the prey")  Now that seems a fitting name for many a hungry feline.  It has the added benefit of being a Bible name.  But alas it was not really clever for us to name it thus, because Corie ten Boom mentions her cat by that name in her famous book, "The Hiding Place".  The only remarkable thing I can remember about this cat is that it left some poop on the stairs which Barbara discovered as it came up between her bare toes.  Cats know who likes them and who doesn't.  They have this way of making a statement with a turd.  Our friends, Barry and Trisch Dorsch, had a cat who held a mutual contempt with  Barry.  One day after tossing the cat out of his desk chair, he found an exclamation poop behind that chair.  Now that's an eloquent statement!

Once we actually owned a pedigreed Persian cat.  All other experiences were with the alley cat variety that adopts it's owner, er... staff as mentioned above.  But our youngest, Jonathan, had made up his mind that he would like to have a Persian cat.  His mother bargained that if we made enough money in a coming garage sale, he could buy the advertised bargain Persian.  It worked very well, and he was a beautiful model of fluff, posing for the admiration of all.  We named him Cyrus, after the great Persian king of old (also a Bible name).  But other than laying around, looking beautiful, he did nothing.  The most boring cat we have ever owned.  He got some ailment, caused by his delicate digestive system, that cost us $180 at the vet.  Not long after this he seemed to have the same ailment, but this time he disappeared, presumably to die.  I'd rather think that some Persian admirer swiped him, but we will never know in this life, because they didn't have micro chips in those days.

I'm sure I mentioned our white cat in an early blog of mine.  The story of her chasing savvy squirrels into the trees of Wilmington, Delaware, is a favorite.  How they would jump from the end of a limb, leaving her clinging to this bobbing tree branch, was fun to repeat.

We had another white cat that moved with us from Modesto to Carson.  This one was named "Pernicious" (you know, as in "pernicious anemia").  In order for us to get her in the car to travel with a modicum of calm, we had to drug her with a powerful pill from the vet.  Wow, did she fight against the effects of that drug.  She could barely open her heavy eyelids (actually cats have a dual set, and we could see one set she was unable to open).  As I drove the VW bug down highway 99, she would occasionally emit this low feline noise, a miniature version of a lion's growl.  But she made it.  And she grew old with us.  By her 13th year the family was strongly lobbying me to put her to sleep.  When some sort of infection ate away one of her ears I finally relented to the ugly assignment.

Most of our cats were necessary to serve as pets for our famous dog, Talitha.  We discovered that during a period without a cat, our dog was moping around the house.  She was always a peppy, friendly canine, and so we noticed her poor mood.  But as soon as the next cat adopted our family, Talitha revived her interest in life.  Our eldest son, Phil, taught our dog to "get that cat."  She would catch the head of the cat in her mouth, while the acclimated cat would kick with her hind legs.  They frequently played like this and nobody was hurt.  That night we would see them curled up together to sleep.  It was only a problem when Phil took the dog for a walk and gave her the order with a neighbor cat.  Since the neighbor cat didn't know the game, she was usually treed.  So I say most of our cats were pets for Talitha.  She was not really a pet.  She was a member of the family and she grew up with our children.  We had her for more than 16 years.

Bill Cosby had it right when one of his routines, describing the difference between cats and dogs, pictured the dog as carrying master's slippers and saying, "What else do you want, Master?"  But the cat is sitting on the couch watching TV.  He says, "Hey, you, cat." 
"You're not talking to me."
"You haven't caught any mice lately."
"I'm full, man."
Yeah.  Cats have staff.

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