The Prince. It was Christmas time, and my son Mike came up to me very excited because he had the most wonderful Christmas present for me. But I needed to go with him in the car to get it. What can it be? I asked myself. Excitement mounted as the car sped on to our destination. I had no idea where we were going or what this present would be, but I knew it would be something very unusual. We ended up at a parsonage not too far from home. We were greeted at the door by the minister's wife whose broad smile told me this present would be something worth coming for. She took us to see my Christmas present--one of the six Himalayan kittens that Mike had purchased earlier through an ad in the papers.
It was hard not to show the disappointment in my countenance. At the time, I was not ready for cats. There were too many things going on. I did not have the time to mess around with cat litters, take it to the veterinarian when it gets sick, etc. So there I was looking at these Himalayan kittens and being asked to pick the one that I wanted. I didn't want any, and I was finding it very hard to feign that I was overjoyed having this most wonderful Christmas present. But I wanted to be friendly and civil and didn't want to hurt my son's feelings so I picked up one kitten and started baby-talking (or is it kitty-talking?) to it.
We took the kitten home. As tactfully as I could possibly muster, I explained to my son that I did not want the kitten at this time. We had cats before and loved them, but I didn't want any now. I guess Mike understood and agreed that I should call my girlfriend Veronica, an animal lover, to see if she would take the kitten. It turned out that her landlady Mary, whom we also knew and had a bunch of cats, wanted the kitten which she appropriately named Frosty because of the frosty-like markings around his collar.
It was about a year or so when I happened to be at my girlfriend's house, and Mary came over with Frosty. I couldn't believe my eyes. The little kitten that we got from the minister's wife, the one I didn't want, turned out to be the most beautiful Himalayan cat I had ever seen. He had the most beautiful blue eyes on a black face. His body had beautiful tan and black markings, and his paws were black, and he looked like he was wearing black boots. It was almost like an ugly-duckling-to-swan transformation had taken place. Jokingly I told Mary I wanted the cat back.
passed (by this time, we had three cats) my husband, out of the blue, called Veronica and mentioned that he wanted another cat. She spoke up that Mary now had fifteen cats and would gladly give some of them away. Wonder of wonders, we got Frosty back! This is a picture of Frosty. Sometimes I call Frosty the Black Prince or Prince Frosty for he carries himself around like a noble prince.
The Kamikaze Kat. Tigger is a beautiful orange Persian cat with bright copper eyes, but he has a mean streak in him. We could pet him only for a moment. After that, he would try to bite us. When we first got him, he was quite a character. He would wait until we had no protection on our ankles and feet then he would charge at us and bite our ankles. He didn't bite hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to aggravate us. We put up a BEWARE OF CAT warning sign that showed a picture of a mean old cat with oversized sharp fangs. How appropriate!
A couple of times we decided to return him to the previous owner. Tigger has mellowed out through the two years he's with us. He no longer bites us on our ankles. He loves to come up to us and rub against our legs, but he's still not one to cuddle up with us.
We enjoy watching him play with his toys. When we dangle a toy on a string high above him, he would jump up like a super cat to grab the toy. He enjoys chasing after a ball at top speed and crashing hard against walls, furniture, and appliances. We see him shaking his head in obvious pain. But he would start all over again--chasing the ball to the opposite side of the room, crashing against the wall or furniture there. We have thought of coming up with a protective safety helmet for him to wear. Wouldn't he look great with a helmet and sunglasses on? We nicknamed Tigger, the kamikaze kat.
The Real Cat. After having Tigger around and getting used to not petting him too much for fear of being bitten or scratched, my son made a comment one day that we needed a real cat--one that would cuddle up with us and not try to bite us. I have always wanted a white Persian with blue eyes. However, I was discouraged from getting one because they told me they are prone to deafness.
One day, I decided to get us a real cat. I looked at a classified ad and found a white Persian listed. I called the phone number on the ad and asked for additional information. What's the color of the eyes? Gold. Is the cat friendly and cuddly? Yes, she's friendly; she's a lap cat. Yippeeeeee... This was exactly what we wanted--a real cat! I asked the woman for the address to pick up the cat, lo and behold, she lived just eight houses away from us. Small world, isn't it?
While it took Goldie (named after her gold eyes) a little while to get acclimated with her new environment, she definitely is a lap cat. Sometimes, however, I have second thoughts about having a 'real' cat. When I sit down to read a book, Goldie plops herself right on the book. When I play the piano, she sits on my lap and reaches out for the keys with her paws. Sometimes she embellishes my piano playing by walking on the keyboard. When I'm working on the computer, she's messing up my document with unwanted characters. In this interesting and wonderful world of animals, we can't win for losing, can we?
A Home for Thumper. There was a mama cat with six litters that made the parking garage in the middle of downtown
Jacksonville their home. It was a pitiful sight because the mama cat was only skin and bones,
malnourished and obviously had some kind of disease for she was losing most of her fur.
Some of the employees of the Suddath Corporation where my son worked took pity and decided to do something about it. They set up a trap to hopefully catch the whole family and find an animal shelter where the cats would be set up for adoption. Days went by, but no luck in getting the cats in the trap. One day, however, a lonely kitten was meowing inside the trap cage, and the mama was laying right beside her outside the cage to comfort the frightened little kitten.
The love that mama cat manifested toward her kittens--in feeding them, protecting them, transporting them, one kitten at a time, to safer locations in the parking garage--made a deep impression upon my son.
Many phone calls were made to find a home for this little bitty kitten, but, alas, all proved fruitless. This was when Mike decided to take the kitten home.
For a tiny kitten, he's got the most enormous ears you ever saw. I guess we're used to the two adult Persians who in comparison had smaller ears. We decided to name the kitten Thumper after the Disney character. At least, we figured, this little tabby kitten could use his ears to thump, thump, thump his way in the world.
Thumper turns out to be as beautiful if not more so than Morris, the TV commercial cat. With his meows and facial expressions, he communicates to us like you wouldn't believe it. You talk to him and he meows back in response even squinting his eyes and cocking his little head from side to side. He lets you know when he wants something. When he wants to go out to the Florida room, the door of which is always closed, he would meow loudly for one of us to open the door. Our other cats do not do this. They would just stand there forever with only the sound of silence coming from them. But what do you expect? Are not alley cats smarter than pure bred cats especially Persians?
The Trade-off Cat. My husband went walking early one morning. He heard a faint cry of an animal that he thought was a bird coming from the bushes by the sidewalk. Upon closer examination, he found a tiny, tiny kitten that somehow got separated from its mama. He took it home and tried to feed it warm milk. When I got home from work, I saw that the kitten was too young to feed on its own and needed its mama--that, or be fed with a dropper. I suggested that he check the homes in the area to see if he could find the mama cat. No one wanted to claim the kitten, so John took it home again.
I mentioned this to our friend Mary who knew exactly how to care for a tiny kitten. She wanted the kitten but there was a catch. She would take the kitten if we would take Nicholas, her mixed Himalayan cat. Nicholas 'Nick-Nick' is an adorable cat with soft blue eyes and creamy-tan with gray and white colorings, a lighter version of Frosty minus the full furry collar. Since taking care of an unweaned kitten is like having a newborn infant all over again with a need for round-the-clock care, not to mention the constant whining and meowing, we decided to take Nicholas instead.
Even though we keep saying 'No more cats' we somehow keep adding to the collection. My son fears that I would become a cat lady one day, in trouble with the law for having 300 cats and unable to keep up with their care and maintenance, and neighbors far and near complaining of the stench generated.