Early this morning, Sheila, our friend and neighbor, came to the door. On answering, Sheila handed Jo a cat. Yes, a cat. A kitten, actually. The little thing didn’t even fill the palm of my hand.
“What the hell is that,” I exclaimed, pointing to the little animated ball of fuzz. We have two cats now. A third we didn’t need. Before my displeasure registered (or even if it did), Jo gleefully accepted responsibility for the cat. Since moving to Clearview, Jo and I have had a number of cats. Kitty, Moe, Zeke, Peeper, Sweety, Blackie, Toots, Gertie and Bert and now, Sweetpea and Buddy. Eleven in all.
The last to die was Bert, who shuffled off his mortal coil two years ago. Bert was Jo’s favorite. And, conversely, Jo was Bert’s favorite. For the first time since 1977, we were without a cat. But it was short-lived: Within three months, Jo was militating for a new cat. Actually, she was militating for a kitten. Two, in fact. “If we get two littermates,” she gushed, “they’ll never want for company”.
That’s true, but kittens? “They’ll rip the place to shreds,” I whined. And besides, at my age, they’ll probably outlive me. A cat can easily go seventeen years. After all, Moe was seventeen when I shot him. And actually, he was still in pretty good shape, but we were going on the road in a semi and couldn’t take him along. Couldn’t give him away either; he had some odd habits that would make him unsuitable for adoption.
Poor old Moe had to die. But he so hated rides in the car and trips to the doctor that I couldn’t bring myself to make his last minutes ones filled with anxiety and dread. So I unlimbered the .357, carried him out back (where he liked to be), gave him some last pets and then gave him two to the head. Absolutely, positively the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.
Long story short, we got the two kittens, Sweatpea and Buddy. Sure enough, they made a mess of the place, but they are better now. Well, if these two kittens last as long as Moe, I’ll be eighty-five when they go. I didn’t want Sheila’s foundling because if it lasts seventeen years, I’ll be eighty-seven — that is if I live that long.
By the time I got dressed and went downstairs, Jo had the kitten locked in a carrying case, out in the garage. Naturally, I had to go out and see. The poor thing was starved almost to death and was so weak it had trouble standing up. I immediately got some of Buddy’s canned food and put a good dollop in a dish and stuck it in the carrier. It ate like a Hoover eating dust.
While Jo busied herself finding a no-kill shelter, I played around with it. The food must have been fast acting because the kitten certainly came back to life.
In any case, Jo found such a shelter, grabbed the cat cage and away she went. Well, you ‘d think that would be the end of things but no. Before Jo left I told her to give no details and volunteer nothing. “Just tell her the neighbor handed you the cat and you know nothing more. Then get the hell out of there.”
Of course Jo didn’t do that, did she. Within half an hour of returning, Jo was on the phone with the lady from the shelter. The two are now conspiring to scour the neighborhood, looking for others. In fact, Jo has already taken a cruise down the cul-de-sac looking for more. Praise be, she found none but the day is young.
This isn’t the end of it. Jo will go kitten hunting until she finds one, no matter if she has to go to downtown Seattle. Within the next day or two, I’ll find a little flea-bag scooting around the floor, shitting and pissing where it will and ripping up the drapes — at least the parts Buddy and Sweetpea haven’t already ruined.
Jo, my wife, the Cat Lady.