Sunday, October 4, 2009

My life in cats

It's Chusok weekend here in Korea. If you're interested in Korean holidays, you can read a little about it here. It's kind of like a Korean Thanksgiving, only I doubt there are any apocryphal stories about ill-prepared immigrants and naively friendly natives. Even if there are, they are all written in Hangul, so I wouldn't know the difference, now would I?

Despite my complete ignorance of Korean culture, I'm game for participation in the local holidays, and today I am thankful for cats. Starting today, we are lucky enough to be cat-sitting the beautiful Mishka, who is one of our upstairs neighbors. Her family, who has not been here very long, has embarked on a two-week multi-destination trip back to the states, and I cannot decide if I should envy them or feel sorry for them, or both. But either way, today I have been thinking about all the cats I have loved and lost. Here they are, in roughly chronological order:

Charlie- I got Charlie when he or she was a kitten and I was a small child. The mother cat lived in my Aunt Luella and Uncle Butch's barn and I had my choice of kittens. Unfortunately, Charlie and I did not have long together; the cat had some sort of seizure and dropped dead in my arms shortly after. It's a wonder I wasn't scarred for life, don't you think?

Smoky- My dad found Smoky tied up in some trees in the woods near where we lived, and cut him down and brought him home. He was a beautiful big gray cat who liked to yowl and car surf. One morning he rode off on my dad's car and never returned.

SillyBilly- My dad found SillyBilly, a beautiful calico cat, when she was a kitten. He's always been a little vague about the details of this late night acquisition, but my sister and I were thrilled the next day when we got up and found our new pet. You know, I'm getting a little suspicious of these mysterious cat-finding trips of his, now that I think about it. Anyway, she lived with us for quite a while until she got hit by a car down the street and was returned to us in a cardboard box by one of the neighbors.

Fluffer- Fluffer was the son of SillyBilly and was a fluffy black cat. He was very mellow and would let us dress him up, but I don't remember what happened to him. I think he just disappeared.

Chebosco- Chebosco was a male orange and white cat, and I don't know where he came from or where he went. That's funny, because I really liked him. You know, now I'm getting a little suspicious of these unexplained cat disappearances and might need to have a little chat with my dad.

Katie and Kelly- When I got out of high school, I worked in a pet store for a year or so before I went to college. I should totally write a post about that place because it had everything: flashers, larceny, pathological liars, and mud puppies. One day, a kid brought in these two teeny tiny siamese kittens and said his male cat had dragged them home. They were only two or three weeks old, and I took them home and we bottle-fed them until they were strong and healthy enough to eat cat food. Katie, the boy cat, was always glossy and a little wild- he moved around my parents' neighborhood for years until finally they didn't see him anymore. Okay, now I'm definitely going to talk to my dad about this. I just hope he doesn't have some cat-fur quilt hidden in his closet or something. Kelly, the girl cat, had an obsession with pushing her paws into things and was a big licker. She was always sickly, probably because she was bottle-fed formula instead of breastfed, and died fairly young.

Lewis and Clark- After Lloyd and I got married and moved to Pensacola, the first thing we did was adopt Lewis and Clark. Their original names were Tyler and Cassie, and they were not related but had bonded deeply in their foster home. Clark (formerly known as Tyler) was an old male orange and white cat, and Lewis (formerly Cassie) was a sweet, younger, long-haired gray and white female cat. We had a pleasant, but short-lived relationship with both of them. Well, I did anyway. Clark didn't care for Lloyd, and the feeling was mutual. He moved in with the neighbors, much to Lewis' dismay, and soon died of feline leukemia. Lewis liked to follow us on walks through the neighborhood, and one day she followed us down the street, then peeled off to investigate something. When we returned, she was laying dead on the street. I was very traumatized by this and embarked on some immediate retail therapy. One of my purchases was a bright red leather tote bag by Kenneth Cole. I carried it for months and called it my 'dead cat tote'. People looked at me strangely, but that's never bothered me, and it made me feel lots better. After Hurricane Katrina, I donated the dead cat tote, along with my entire work wardrobe, to hurricane victims who were trying to relocate and start new jobs. I hope it helped somebody else as much as it helped me. I got some additional cheer out of it, because it was a splendid tax deduction. Thanks, Lewis!

Bella (pictured, above)- I got Bella as a kitten from someone at work shortly after Lewis died. An email message was going around about kittens available for adoption and one of them was a calico, like SillyBilly. I wanted that one, but it was already taken. I decided to get one anyway, and picked out Bella. Her name is Bella because I wanted something derived from SillyBilly and chose a girlish version of Billy. She is kind of a strange cat, not super friendly, and she hated Lloyd on sight. One day, when she wasn't very old, she didn't come home and we started looking around the neighborhood. We didn't have any luck, but a day or two later she hobbled home. We took her to the vet and found that she had two broken legs. Apparently this is a common cat injury when they get hit by a car. The car strikes them, breaking the leg on the car side, then they get tossed down the street, breaking bones on the other side. After several very expensive surgeries, with pins and everything, Bella was almost good as new. When we left Shreveport for Korea, we decided to leave her with some Catholic friends there. They immediately took her to family pet night at their local parish and had her blessed with the special water, and she still lives there happily in holy catrimony.

And that's the last of the cats. For now. As soon as we get to a place where we can have cats again, we are loading up. Don't worry, I plan to keep a VERY close eye on my dad.


Wendy Hawksley said...

What a sad story about Charlie. :(

And Smoky.

And SillyBilly.

And, uh... Um, do Mishka's owners realize you're lethal to kitties???

Thank goodness Bella is with a new family. I mean, um, I'm so glad she's doing well, since you decided not to bring her here! Yeah, that's it...

Actually, I DID run over my own cat. Tremor, the one tattooed on my upper arm. I broke his pelvis. We had no idea he was outdoors, because our cats have always been indoor cats.

Anyhow, he must have snuck out as I went out to the door to work and a few feet down the street my car went ba-bump and I looked in the rearview... Yeah.

I rushed him to the veterinary ER, was late for work, and a complete mess. But he healed. Other than some pain when he pooped...

He survived for another 5 years, though, dying at a decent cat-old age.

Helen said...

OK, so I'm thinking you are a cat curse.

Anna said...

You people do realize these cats are almost all dead because IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, right?? Cats DIE, you know; they don't suck blood from virgin kittens and live forever, or scamper off to a farm full of rats in the beautiful woods. Well, as far as I know anyway. I'm not an expert, of course.

C Mike said...

You forgot about Bella's endurance of the hurricane when you had to evacuate Pensacola. That is one tough cat!

Helen said...

I have a feeling she may have been tough, but she's probably grateful that she didn't go for a ride with you, C. Mike. The evidence may be circumstantial, but is a bit damning.

Anna said...

I didn't so much forget the hurricane that she spent locked in the house, or the other hurricane that she spent locked out of the house and then in the shelter, as leave them out so as not to appear to be a cat curse.