My Rocky Road to Feline Companionship…No, it Wasn’t
By Beverly Hicks Burch
Lately, I feel like maybe I have been slighting my feline friends, and since I want to be “fair and balanced”, open minded and just down right American about it, I decided it was time to dedicate a few words to feline friends. First, let me be up front in saying the road to this point has not been sweet…it has been a little rocky.
I did have a cat as a child. Her name was Mrs. Whiskers. I have a sneaking suspicion my Aunt LaRue might have had something to do with me getting a cat in the first place. She lived across the street at the time and she’s always been a cat freak.
Aunt LaRue had a cat name Heathcliff one time that grew to be the size of a Volkswagen and lived as long as Methuselah. She called him “Heafy” and loved, loved, loved that cat. She could walk around with him draped around her neck. If I walked around with the weight of a Volkswagen draped around my neck, I would be a hunchback by now, but she did it for years and is straight as a stick. My aunt is a strong woman…in more ways than one. When Heathcliff died, Aunt LaRue and my baby cousin Montee (yes, girl, you’re still my baby cousin even though we’re all grown up now) were grieved. It hurt them…I can understand that…I hurt for them.
Back to Mrs. Whiskers…I was in first or second grade when we had her and something happened. She had a litter of kittens. Well, I know what happened to cause that…it’s what happened after that was strange. She ate one of her kittens. Momma and Daddy didn’t think it was appropriate for little girls to have an offspring eating feline mother as a pet, so Mrs. Whiskers went to live somewhere else.
I don’t recall owning anymore cats until I was married to “Gomez the Unremarkable”. To be perfectly honest, I was always kind of scared of cats. They have pointed little teeth and pointed claws…and those instruments of destruction hurt! I hated those feelings as a child…I still do. Cat scratches do not rule. *shiver* And, it kind of freaked me out that cats don’t have eyelashes like people…and dogs, but other than that, I have no problem with cats at all…really! They do have soft fur and can purr and are great mobile mousetraps.
After Gomez and I married and were living in our first house, we were working out in the yard one evening. We were the shame of our friends…we were a petless and childless couple. As we toiled away in the yard this one particular evening, an animal control truck slowed down in front of our house and then came to a stop.
The driver got out of the truck and approached us. He told us that he had just picked up a cute little kitten and hated to take it in to the pound…he had a bazillion reasons why. Long story short, he wanted to know if we would be interested in taking the kitten and giving it a home. Now, remember, Gomez is the one that hates cats. If you recall, he shot and killed the neighbor’s cat (About Dogs and Cats).
Gomez agreed to take the kitten in. The driver went to the truck and brought back a sweet tiny, ball of fur that fit in the palm of my hand. This was truly a baby. I was in love. The driver admonished us to take care of the kitten…we assured him we would…and he drove off into the sunset…literally.
Within a very short time we realized something was seriously wrong. I was playing with the kitten in the den and suddenly the little fellow started spazzing out. At first, it wasn’t too bad, I thought he was just playing, but very fast it escalated until the kitten was ricocheting around the room, bouncing off of everything…walls, furniture…you name it. We had to take the kitten to a pet ER. We were told there he had a rare neurological disorder that was terminal. The kitten died…and so did our checkbook…we were young marrieds…we barely had money for our own healthcare…sad, but true. I was heartbroken…it was one of the saddest things I had ever seen.
Actually, this little kitten was our second attempt at cat ownership. Some how I had found this beautiful cat name Benji…yep, like the dog (this was the `70’s after all), and we adopted him. Benji was beautiful…all black…big ol’ green eyes and fluffy coat. He was declawed, so he wasn’t destructive and he was well mannered. We had Benji about a year or so and when I had a male cousin come to visit. That cat was just never the same after that visit…and I just never figured exactly what happened, because I never saw anything happen…poor old Benji. I think my cousin must have bedeviled him a lot when I wasn’t looking. Benji wasn’t use to that.
After the cousin left, I started a new job and unfortunately, didn’t have the spare time to give to Benji to baby and pamper him. Gomez wasn’t going to, so I found a cat-adoring-person who had boat loads of time to give him and nurture him back to his Benji-ness. He deserved that. I heard from her later and she said Benji was thriving again…that made me and I’m sure Benji very happy.
Then, we got Daisy a little gray tabby with big green eyes. My son named her after Daisy Duck. Miss Daisy was featured some in the blog About Dogs and Cats. She was the cat with litter box issues….she refused to poop in one. No matter what we did, no matter what the vet suggested, or the pet psychologist…no way, no how was that cat going to poop in a litter box…tinkle, yes…poop, no.
I think it was because we adopted her from a shelter and the cages there were lined with newspapers. That was her potty preference…newspaper…either that or she was awfully tricky and she wanted to see what was going on in the world and the comics.
Daisy mellowed with age. When we first got her, she wanted to climb the curtains. Ok, confession time. Confession is good for the soul. I am OCD…I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder…a slight case…in some things. I don’t go around washing my hands 58 times before I go out or anything…it’s 127. Got ya…I’m just kidding! I really don’t do that…I’m not like Monk or anything…but, in my younger days, I was a kind of a neat freak. Autoimmune disorders, lung cancer, Fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and a few bazillion other health problems kinda cured OCD…although it’s still there, running in the background like a computer program. Daisy climbing the curtains kinda freaked out the neat freak in me…and the worry wart in me. I think I was afraid she was getting sick like the little kitten from the animal control guy. Thank goodness, she didn’t…she was just being a kitten.
Well, she grew up, we had her spayed and she really calmed down after that little procedure. She actually got quite fat and happy. Her abode most of the time was the unfinished basement…mostly because of the litter box issue and the fact that my son is allergic to cats. The longer he was around his beloved Daisy…the worse his reaction. One morning after she had spent several straight days in his room he woke up with whelps on his legs. She had been up on his bed. Yes, I walked a tightrope with those two…
Then, the “Great Tail Episode” happened…it was nothing like American Tail. I went down to do a load of clothes and was greeted by Daisy’s usual purrs and leg rubs. I looked down and nearly fainted. About two inches down her tail it looked like it had been gnawed and was raw. It was exposed almost to the bone! I couldn’t imagine how on earth that could have happened…my cats are always indoor cats. I rushed to call the vet.
The vet had no idea what happened either. He advised to let nature take its course and keep that purple medicine on her tail and try to keep it bandaged. Well, good luck there! (I remembered the bandage ordeal when she was spayed. Ugh!) Eventually, she went around with that portion just dangling from the rest of her tail. (I don’t handle blood and dangling parts well.) It bothered us more than it did her. After a while, it fell off, Daisy had a makeover and a new shorter tail.
Well, that brings us up to Tall and Handsome and the Dynamic Duo, Kramer and Winfield. We all know about Kramer and the wax warmer…but, let me give you a little more background.
Shortly after coming to Alabama, T & H was working in a small town in northwest Alabama and I was living and working in Birmingham about 90 miles or so away. He was staying in a hotel room and looking for us a place for our upcoming marriage. I had agreed to keep his cats for him.
Let me explain the layout of my house there (I still have it and we’re renting it out). It covers two stories and I have two kitchens…one up and one down. The kitchen down has acoustical tile ceiling and fluorescent lightening…as does the whole floor. (There is a purpose in Bev telling you this.) The bottom story has a kitchen, den, guest room, bath, office pantry and storage. So, I decided that would be the cats’ domain, especially while I was at work. What could go wrong there, right?
NOT!! To begin with…Kramer thought everything was his own personal jungle gym, including the china cabinet down there…so, score one for cat scratches on the china (almost antique) cabinet and broken dishes…and one for Bev, who kept smiling.
Then in April of that year, Alabama had an earthquake…yes sirree…an honest to goodness rock n’ roll earthquake…I slept through it. It caused a few of my dishes in the china downstairs to fall forward and some of the pictures on the wall to become cockeyed…other than that, I didn’t notice anything else…everything else was ok.
Uh, huh…it was kitty cat subterfuge. Evidently, the tremor had popped up one of the tiles in the ceiling some where and Kramer found it and he decided to go exploring. He also lured his brother Winfield into his life of waywardness.
One night, I was sound asleep and I heard a noise that would have awakened the Dead from the Afterlife…I know because that’s generally how soundly I sleep. I thought a 747 had dropped through the house. When I realized there was no gaping hole in the roof, and I gathered my wits, I realized the noise had come from downstairs. Then I jumped out of bed, ran to the door, went down the stairs…and could not believe my eyes… When I had that hot cup of tea before bed, had I inadvertently snorted the leaves?!!!
The noise I had heard was the ceiling and fluorescent light downstairs in the kitchen falling down…as into the floor! I felt like Hinny Penny…”the sky is falling, the sky is falling…” What I saw next was even more unbelievable. As I walked around, the ceiling had come down in the kitchen, bathroom, part of the walk-in closet in the bedroom and hall. As I survey the damage I looked up and saw four green, slanted, feline eyes. I might have said a very Un-Disney version of “Those Darn Cats!!!! They didn’t want to come down either. (Note: words like “I want to snap your necks!” are not good cat calling words. They don’t work like “Soouie” when you call swine.)
Yes, unbeknown to me, while I was laying innocently in my bed, sleeping contently like a baby, about 45 pounds worth of cat flesh was walking around on my suspended acoustical tile ceiling downstairs. My ceiling didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades.
Kramer was really nonchalant about it. He was like, “Yeah, big deal so what. Screw you”. That’s his whole attitude toward life. Winfield on the other hand knew he was in deep caca. It was all over his face. It screamed, “Kramer made me do it”. I think he vowed from that moment on to correct the error of his ways and win me over.
It is a testament to Tall & Handsome that he is the kind of man he is. I married him any way…cats and all. Aunt LaRue told me cat men are more passionate. *wink wink* I can attest to that after being married to Gomez…and that is another blog.
So, with that in mind, T & H and I got married. Kramer went on his search and destroy missions and Winfield went on his win Bev over missions. T & H said Winfield always picked me to be his person. He was always bringing me things, fireplace gloves, my quilting fabric, my Boyd’s bears, my Romanian lace, dish towels…and every time he would be very verbal and announce he was bringing something.
There have been some changes. Kramer’s fur was becoming more of a health issue for me and he was just becoming too much of a bully…to Winfield and Watson. Winfield and Kramer always fought. Kramer beat the poop out of Winfield almost every day and together they bother beat the snot out of Watson. They both should have been only cats…and now they are. Kramer has a fantastic new home. And I now have an adorable, ecstatically happy, neurotic Tuxedo cat who is the master of the litter box, food bowl, water bowl, tuna cans, cat perks, cranberry treats and snuggles he wants…he is a happy camper…and life is sweet on the rocky road…
© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.