As y'all probably know, I am a cat lover... I know the stereotype of the "CatLady" is of an old maid who turns to cats for lack of human companionship.
But the thing is, I've loved cats pretty much as long as I can remember. In a funny way I almost feel like I was raised by them.
Here I am with my first cat, Samantha, back when we were both kittens.
We got Sam about a year after my parents divorced, and oh, how I loved that little cat! I named her Samantha after the main character in the TV sitcom Bewitched, because she was a black cat, so she was a witch!
I carried her around with me wherever I went and smothered her with kisses at every opportunity. The thing is... she didn't exactly return the affection.
I think this might have had something to do with the fact that as a small child I didn't quite "get" the difference between a cat and a teddy bear... poor little Sammy. I do still have a nice little scar across the palm of my hand from where she enacted a bit of... um... discipline!
Still, even though she was not exactly the cuddle cat that I had hoped for, I'm not sure I would have made it through those first few years after the divorce without her to talk to, so I am forever grateful to my little Sammy-manter-panter-poo.
After a few years, Mom decided that for the sake of Sam's sanity, we should get another cat who might be more cuddle-able, so she brought home Mitten.
Mitten was a beautiful long-haired tabby, and to tell the truth I don't really remember very much about her because she was hit by a car and killed a few months after we got her. The above photo is the only one we ever took of her.
I was only about 7 when it happened, but it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. And it happened right at the beginning of summer vacation - I can still remember crying my way through my entire first day of YMCA day camp. My poor, sweet little Mitsy.
After the trauma of losing Mitten had cleared, which took a few years, we got Paco.
Paco was one of a kind. He was born with a crooked tail which meant that he wasn't exactly as coordinated as other cats.
But what he lacked in grace he made up for with pure sweetness. He was the complete opposite of Sam in terms of tolerance, and actually seemed to enjoy letting me drag him around like a rag doll. Here he is dressed up in baby clothes, loving every minute of it.
A few months after we got Paco my very best friend moved away. Many a night was spent crying into Paco's sweet tabby coat, and I'm not sure how I would have coped without my sweet Pookey Bear.
Paco was also my faithful morning companion as I folded newspapers for my paper route. I was never a morning person, even then, so it was a struggle for me, and I remember one morning when it was particularly rough.
I don't remember the source of my upset that morning, but what I do remember is that there was a big black headline, and the ink left dark smudges all over my face as I wiped away my tears... while Paco sat next to me purring the whole time. Curiously, I do know the date of that morning... October 7, 1981 - because the headline read: Sadat Assassinated.
|I was, of course, delivering the Denver Post, not the NY Times,|
but this was the best I could do.
About a year after we got Paco one of my mom's friends had to move, and her new apartment wouldn't accept cats, so we inherited Victor.
Victor was big, and beautiful and strong, and named for the sideways "V" marking on his face. He and Paco quickly became inseparable.
Victor liked to help out with the morning paper route duties too, but truth be told he was in it for the food more than the company... since I was the first one up I'd always feed the kitties.
Victor must have been able to tell time because every morning about 5 minutes before the alarm was supposed to ring he'd jump on my chest and start licking my face. It was all very adorable unless I didn't get up immediately, in which case he'd switch from face licking to nostril biting! Ever had a nostril pierced by a cat? Well... it certainly worked to get me out of bed!
Watching Victor was a bit like turning on the National Geographic channel... which was great except...
I remember looking out the kitchen window once and thinking how cute it was that Victor was crouched behind a tree wiggling his butt. The next thing I knew, he shot out from the tree after a squirrel - he hooked the thing with one paw, and went straight for the jugular. I sat there in horror realizing that my sweet affectionate cat was really a cold-blooded killer!
Anyhow, Victor was fond of bringing home his hunting prizes, and when he did he would arrive with a very specific meow to announce the kill.
So one summer night I was awakened out of a deep sleep by the tell tale sound of a cat announcing his kill... only it didn't sound quite right. I flipped on the lights expecting to see Victor with a bird or mouse or something, but instead it was Paco!
Little Paco wasn't actually coordinated enough to hunt, but apparently he was feeling a bit left out, so he decided that he'd bring home what he could... in his mouth was a tattered old McDonald's paper cup!
|Not Paco, but you get the idea.|
Well, I could go on telling kitty stories forever, but this post is already too long. All of the "kitties of old" have long ago moved on to the proverbial (paper cup) hunting ground in the sky, but I will never forget my little furry friends and how they helped me through what was, at times, a difficult and tumultuous childhood. I am forever in their debt, and they will always be my little angels.