Category Archives: cats

Little Doolittle

            I draw animals.  They come to me, trust me – even the ones who usually growl at strangers and then rip flesh from their legs.  When I am pregnant, dogs and cats cannot keep away; I give off some hormone that turns me into the Pied Piper for house pets.  I have never known anyone as attractive to animals as I am.

            Until now.  Now, pregnant though I am, they ignore me.  They give me a cursory once-over, and then move along.  They know there is a better game in town.

            That’s because I am always with Benjamin.

            Now, all kids like animals, and Zachary is as into them as any other child his age.  But Benjamin?  Ben has a gift.  Dogs, cats, horses, it doesn’t matter.  They turn away from all other humans the minute he walks into the room.

            He has recently discovered bugs.  Actually, both kids have, but Zach’s response is to run screaming from the room every time a fly enters.  Benjamin has a different approach.

            “Doodlebug!” he announces.  And sometimes he is right.  Sometimes, however, it is a little roach-like creature that got stuck on its back and died on our front step.

            “No, Ben.  That’s a dead bug.”

            “Hi, Dead Bug!” he says, bending down and waving.  It is all I can do to keep him from inviting it in for supper.

            He is a miniature Doctor Doolittle.  And our new neighborhood provides all sorts of willing animals for him to commune with.  There are dogs on leashes, squirrels running about, birds in the trees.  And, there is The Cat.

            Our new neighbors on one side include a concert pianist who practices every night while we eat supper on our deck (no charge!)  The other side has a house that could use a remodel (or a wrecking ball).  It also has Cuddles, known to Benjamin merely as “CAT!”

            Cuddles is the neighborhood whore.  She lies in the middle of the sidewalk, spreading her extraordinarily long legs our to trip anyone who dares try not to stop, and waits for victims.  And everyone seems to know her.  They stop, they pet, they sit down and spend ten minutes pampering this feline who clearly has never met a human she didn’t like.  She will expose that furry belly to anyone with hands.  She is totally indiscriminate.

            At least that’s what people thought until we moved to the neighborhood.  Now, old friends are getting slighted.  There they’ll be, petting her, and Benjamin will come tearing down the sidewalk, shouting with glee “CAT!”  And Cuddles turns her fickle tail on whoever is petting her; her lover has arrived.

            “I feel a little hurt,” one old friend of hers remarked, watching as the two did their mating dance on the sidewalk. 

            “Don’t take it personally,” I responded to this neighbor.  “He and the cat had a special relationship.”  And so they do.  He tries to feed her grass (I’m sure her owners really appreciate him tearing up their lawn).  He pets her gently.  He talks to her.  He offers her his giraffe blankie, the greatest gift he has to offer.

            “Why do we need to get a cat?” my husband wants to know.  Don’t tell him, but he may be right.  Everyone seems perfectly happy with the current arrangement.

Feline troubles

            Please know, I do indeed understand the meaning of the word “irony.”  I want to state that up front, because I fear that later you will be too busy gasping for breath on the floor as you sob with laughter to notice such disclaimers.

            When we left Philadelphia, we had a cat, Nala.  She had been with me for many years, long before Zachary came along and usurped her role as ruler of the house.  Unfortunately, we could not move her with us, both because the quarantine is excessive (we did not have enough notice for the chip) and because she does not like a three-minute ride to the vet, let alone a seven-hour flight.  We found a former student of mine who was just graduating college who wanted a cat in med school. 

            However, knowing that women just graduating from college cannot predict the trajectory of their lives, I assured my young friend that, if her circumstances changed over the next two years and a cat was no longer feasible, I would take Nala off her hands when we returned to Philadelphia.  It would be her choice.

            Cue ominous music.  This young med student can no longer keep Nala.  She loves the cat, really she does, but she is going on away rotations and then will be at the hospital all the time for clinicals.

            But, the problem here is that we are no longer returning to Philly, and shipping a cat from Philadelphia to L.A. just to be with a family she no longer remembers strikes me as a form of animal cruelty.  (Shut UP about the irony, please.)  We really do not wish to put the cat through that ordeal.  We would like to find a nice family within an hour or two of Philly who wants a cat.

            If you know anyone, here’s the deal.  She’s old – thirteen years.  She’s calico with some Siamese, we think.  She’s ornery but not violent – she’s just a cat and she likes things her way.  She’s affectionate with the person she attaches to (because, she’s a cat).  She’s fine with children, never hurting them, but she isn’t dying for kids.  Although, that said, she tried to curry Zach’s favor in hopes of getting me to pay attention to her again.  She’s your basic coddled house pet who wants a nice spot in the sun and a lap to sit on.  While she is OK with children, she is not OK with other animals, so she needs to enter a pet-free household.  She never goes outside of the litter box, she is a good mouser, and she generally earns her keep.

            So, if you know any nice people in the Philly area who can verify that they are kind to animals, please send them my way.  (If you have never before commented and I suddenly hear from you, I am going to assume you are the kind of person who tries to get your hands on innocent cats to do awful things to them and I will disregard your offer.  Don’t take it personally.)

            Thanks folks.  You can stop shaking your head in amazement at the twisted paths of fate now.