I found a cat underneath the deck today. White with flicks of black and a black striped tail. She (I’m choosing to pretend that she’s a she.) reminds me of Kitty/Roxanne, Lee’s beloved childhood cat who was eventually accidentally run over by our neighbor when she–the cat, not Lee–at the old age of twenty-three and both deaf and mostly blind, decided to take an afternoon nap underneath his car, nestled up against the back wheel. I have never seen someone apologize so much or look so horrified as he did when he discovered what had happened. But no one ever stops to check for aging cats behind the wheels of their car. It isn’t exactly an epidemic the way bicycles in the driveway are.
I never did get close enough to see if she also had blue eyes like Kitty. For all I know, they could have been amber. And she certainly wasn’t half Siamese the way Kitty was. But she reminded me enough of the old cat that I started thinking about my childhood and cats.
Growing up in D.C. we had a cat named Natasha. She was a short-haired Tuxedo cat and my parents had adopted her from a New York City shelter shortly before she would have been euthanized. She was docile and loving, everything you’d want a cat with children to be. She never bit, and the only time she ever scratched was if she was leaping on or off of your lap and she began to slip. My father once carried her up and down the street while rollerblading (I’d show you the picture, but the rollerblades had bright pink laces, and I don’t think he would be very pleased with me.) We loved her dearly.
But despite all of Natasha’s wonderful qualities, she did not, as Kitty did, let her dress her up and take her for walks in the stroller, and she avoided all of us kids whenever we were running around the house. At the time, I viewed this as very poor cat behavior, but as an adult*, I totally understand her aversion. If I were a cat, I would most certainly not want to be manhandled by a gaggle of seven to eleven-year-old children.
This brings me to my final cat of the evening. When I was about twelve, Joseph got a cat named D.J., which he named after himself. Joseph was a little, how do you say, rambunctious and crazy.
One day when nothing particularly exciting was happening, he decided to give D.J. a bath by wiping him down with wet paper towels. Then, because mostly wet cats tend to look a bit bedraggled, he decided that D.J. needed to dry off. But instead of giving him a gentle rub down with a blanket, Joseph passed the cat off to one of us and disappeared into the garage, emerging with several heavy-duty fifty-foot long orange extension cords. A few minutes later, we heard the roaring of what I hoped to be a blow dryer and not the leaf blower.
D.J. startled and took off running, the way any sane animal would, while Joseph charged after him with his mother’s blow dryer attached to two of the extension cords. Because the house was built so that the rooms created a circle, the extension cord began to wrap itself around the walls like thread around a spool. Eventually, after D.J. had suffered permanent emotional scarring, Joseph ran out of cord and fell over. D.J. has never looked at him quite the same.
I’ll leave you with those few anecdotes for the evening. I plan on determining whether the cat I saw was simply a vagrant wandering through or a squatter early in the morning. We’re going to have to set a humane trap and take it to get spayed/neutered if it indeed plans to take up residence.
Maxwell Perkins is sitting on my lap, loudly purring and drooling a little on my thigh. Having him here feels fitting.
*Yeesh. I can actually say that phrase now.
And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.