01 July 2011

Time for Pets--Cats

Boss -- Head shot.
Welcome back. My wife, Vicki, and I shared the driving to visit her family in Wisconsin, nearly 900 miles in one are-we-there-yet day. Because we planned to stay at least a week, maybe two, we took Boss, our female feline, who hasn’t ridden farther than the vet’s office since joining our household a decade ago.  

Boss (the Diva)

For the first two hours, Boss thought it necessary to advise us loudly and incessantly how unhappy she was; for the next two hours, she brought it up again every 30 minutes or so in case we’d forgotten; for the last ten hours, she was silent, having concluded that her life was over--“I won’t talk, I won’t eat, I won’t drink, I won’t…”

Boss -- Tail shot.
Boss recovered the moment we arrived at our newly renovated apartment, though she ducked for cover whenever she heard anyone coming up the stairs. While that’s nothing new, what is relatively new is Boss’s voice. I’ll explain, but I have to start with Lassie.

Lassie (the Cat)

We met Lassie, our first family cat, at an adopt-a-cat affair, organized by a cat-rescue group at a local pet store. Crowded in with the store’s staff, stock and customers were cat-rescue and cat-seeking people, and cages of meowing or sleeping cats and kittens.

Lassie (without mask
and cape) and Noah.
Amid the controlled chaos was one young, unmistakably cerebral, Russian Blue cat--the future Lassie--watching, studying, thinking; a perfect match for our 4 yr old action figure, Noah. 

Lassie (left) and Noah.
Lassie needed only a few minutes to settle into our home, though it took her almost a day to adopt Noah as her own. That’s where the excitement was, but that’s also were help was needed. Lassie was surprisingly like her celebrity canine namesake.

Pet owners can go on and on about all the cute, special, amazing, frustrating, oh no! things their pets do. I’ll save most of that for a book and move on to Rex. (Boss is coming, honest.)

Rex (the Cat)

Lassie didn’t like to be carried. So, of course, Vicki decided we needed a second cat. She chose a "simply adorable," orange calico kitten at another adopt-a-cat event.

Adorable Rex—young (left) and old.
Shortly after naming the newcomer "Rex," we discovered that Rex should have been Regina. 

More important (to Vicki anyway), Rex couldn’t tolerate being carried, cuddled, brushed or petted for more than a few minutes--“Oh, oh...I love it…more…oops, enough.  I can’t take it…excuse me, I’ve got to go stare at the wall.”

One of Rex’s most endearing traits, besides staring at a wall, was disappearing if anyone were to visit. (My daughter has a cat like that; maybe it runs in our family.) Rex thus became Vicki’s imaginary cat.

Here’s an excerpt from a note I left for the pet sitter, Kim, when we left town in 2003:

You will be greeted first by old grey Lassie….Eventually, young black Boss will appear ...Vicki's third cat (our little secret, right, Kim?)--a calico, I'm told--is still called Rex…(Try Harvey?). 

Boss’s Coming

Boss being beamed into our home.
Boss was just there one day. I mean, there in our home.  I remember a story about her mother being killed in a hurricane, but I don’t remember a hurricane or how the hurricane blew Boss to our house.  

When Boss arrived, Lassie was already…well… large and mature. Nevertheless, Lassie would always back down from encounters with this pushy black kitten. Rex, in contrast, would never give Boss an inch. This established a convoluted pecking order since Lassie was best friends with, but definitely ruled, Rex.

Boss wasn’t just pushy, she was also wacky. Since I started with pet sitter notes, here’s an excerpt from one I left in 2007:

"Boss"… is the youngest and shall I say swift but not too swift. She has never decided which way to go first, though she knows she must get there quickly. She's a bit shy and may run away, but will likely come back, having forgotten why she ran away. 
Oh my gosh! I’ve written too much and still haven’t gotten to Boss’s voice.

Wrap Up

Thanks for stopping by. I'll finish this next week and promise to keep it short. I’ll be posting three great photo addenda if you check back sooner.

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