Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Cat Lady

I hadn't planned on talking about Cats I Have Known on this blog. This blog has nothing to do with cats--unless I have a nifty little recipe for Tabby Fricassee--and yet, I'm going to talk about cats.

But now that I think of it, Tabby Fricassee doesn't sound too bad, because that's what I'm ready to do with Harryboy.

Harryboy was Awesome Stepkid R.'s consolation prize for enduring a move to a new city with his new Evil Stepmonster. R. was at an awkward stage and didn't make friends easily; he was peevish and lonely those first few months. A dog was out of the question; I am highly allergic. I'd grown up with cats, and R. had a cat at his bio-Mom's house, so we decided a cat was just the thing.

We chose Harryboy (true name: Harry Potter) at our local shelter and brought him home and, true to form, he put a smile on R.'s face. And I liked Harryboy fine until it became increasingly apparent to me that Harryboy thought he was a dog. He fetched. He met you as soon as you hit the door, running in excited little circles. He constantly begged for a warm lap and a scratch. He howled when the doorbell rang. He snuggled as close as possible to my butt as I was sleeping. In short: Harryboy was a needy little bastard.

Harryboy has never let me forget that he was my first baby, before I had babies. He's gentle and tolerant of the girls, but the minute he gets me alone--BAMMO! That fuzz-faced lothario is practically humping my leg, crying for lovin.'

As if I didn't get enough of that from my husband.

In fact, I think if Harryboy were a little higher on the evolutionary chain, he'd be on the phone with the Russian Mafia, plotting Hubs' tragic and accidental demise. Harryboy has a jealousy problem. He is also a vindictive little shit.

The first time we left Harryboy for a weekend (yes, the neighbor kid came in and took care of his needs) he pissed in Hubs' gym bag. In fact, he pisses on things a few times a year, just to show us who is boss. And those things are always things that my husband happens to own. He won't touch an object that belongs to Miss D. or Miss M. or me. But hubs' property? That shit's got latrine written all over it.

But actually, I shouldn't be so shocked that Harryboy is high maintenance. Growing up, we owned a cornucopia of cats, and they were all freakshows.

There was ScatCat, a huge beastazoid stray, who my parents had to get rid of because, riddled with *displacement rage*, he repeatedly tried to eat me once I began crawling.

Notice the affection my sister seems to have here for ScatCat. Coincidence? I think not.

My mother told Daddy to take him to the humane society, but instead, my father drove ScatCat out to a lovely little forest, several hours away, and hucked him into the wild. **Please, no animal activist lectures, here. This was 1970 and sure, it wasn't the right thing to do, but ScatCat was so mean that nobody would have adopted his ass anyways.**

Alas, ScatCat had a wicked sense of direction. He showed up, battle-scarred and highly pissed, on our North Dakota porch a month later. So off to the shelter he went.

Lest you think that I was poor, helpless prey to all cats that crossed my path, I give you Crystal. We took Crystal after a neighbor found a litter of kittens in a field.

I'm pretty sure Crystal rued the day she fell into our hands. I didn't have any friends that year and had far too much time to fritter away.

And there was poor Baxter, the cat I wheedled away from an old boyfriend. This boyfriend just plain couldn't remember to buy cat food on a regular basis. So every few weeks, when Baxter was starving and there was no feline nourishment around, said boyfriend would make a peanut butter sandwich, hurl it into the center of the room and watch the carnage. Baxter was, when I got him, so old that he only had a tooth or two. And very, very, dire Kittycat Halitosis.

He was friendly, so visitors would approach him, but as soon as they got a whiff of the Bax-Man, they'd recoil and say, "Whadda Hell He Get Into?"

For a brief while, in my single years, there was Wallace, the cat with the death wish. Wallace, that suicidal whackjob, could not stop chewing electrical cords. He K.O.'ed 3 MacIntosh computer systems in a 6 month span. Needless to say, Wallace needed help, and I needed to quit worrying about extensive fire damage.

My favorite cat, growing up, was Shoelaces. Everyone loved Shoelaces. He was the George Clooney of felines; handsome, suave, charming. He flirted like he'd been born doing it--just look at him, sassing Gramma Rhetta.

That cat could work a grammar school playground like nobody's business. Several times a week, Shoelaces would follow me to school, like Mary and her proverbial lamb. He'd shmooze his way around the schoolyard, and kids would obediently rummage in their lunchboxes, giving him the choicest morsels. Alas, one day, he disappeared on one of his forays, but for YEARS afterwards, neighborhood kids continued to ask, "Hey, has Shoelaces shown up yet?"

I miss him still, and although I know he isn't with us anymore, I half expect him to someday saunter up the sidewalk, twinkle in his eye, as if to say, "I'd tell ya where I been, kid, but you'd never believe it."

And back to Harryboy. As we sit here, with the Holiday Season of the Rodent rapidly approaching, I can only wonder what adventures we have in store. That quiet holiday I wanted this year? I'm thinking it's not in the cards.


  1. I thought everyone had at least one cat story...You have at least half a dozen. I have only owned one cat in my life and I still own her. My husband brought her home. She was living in a tree in a home of a Russian Rocket Scientist. After the cold war, he was coaching Russian Olympic runners in North Central Florida-to acclimate the runners to the climate for the Olympic games in Atlanta. I kid you not!
    She has been the best cat. I am going to stop at perfect and not replace her when she passes away.

  2. I love my cat. He too likes to fetch, greets me at the door and is very needy. But to be honest, I'd feel very lonely without him. He's a furry little pain in the ass, but he's also cool -and very beautiful. Looks like a red version of Shoelaces!

  3. Why do male cats think they are dogs....weird. I have 2's abitter sweet relationship :)

  4. I had the same fugly candycane feetymovingtargetblindingeyesore pajama - it's naked Raggedy Ann! WHOO HOO!

    The Season of the Rodent is definitely NOT in the cards... it'll be on the bathroom counter on the 5th day of pissmas.

  5. We have our neighbors cat who thinks he live here. His owner's even ask how's your cat? He is on our bench on the front porch every afternoon when I get home. He would come in the house if we let him, and Tucker...a minor anoyance, even though he'd eat him if he could get near him. :d

    You had a lot of cats, all with stories.

  6. Love this post even if there is no recipe for cats. JK! I love all the names you have given to your cats. My favorite is Shoelace. I am sure there is a story behind the name. And I love all the old pictures. I so want a cat. The day I lose my job? Watch me, I am heading straight to the shelter to pick one up! :-)

  7. You're killing me here! This was hilarious! I am a new owner of two male kittens (brothers) and this just cracked me up. Your writing just cracks me up! Please! Can I put you on my blogroll? :D

  8. Great post! MeWOW.

    And, um, whose idea was it to put a Holly Hobbie hat on poor Crystal? :D LOLZ

  9. I can't even begin to count the psycho cats I have had through the years. In fact, we have a couple of them right now. I'm always threatening to pack 'em up and haul 'em to the Humane Society. I can't believe it costs $45 dollars to drop a cat off now. Most of the time I'd like to drop kick my cats. I'd like to know how it is that other people's cats are so normal and mine are so NOT!

    Glad you're back! I always look forward to your posts! Shoelaces is a darling name for a kitty!

  10. Could you give me the address of that grammar school? I've been trying to find a school that accepts cats for a while now.

  11. Oh! I love cats! This was the much needed post of the morning...though I have to say the thought of your father leaving Scatcat in a wood makes me shudder (we've taken in strays before and I always feel so sorry for them knowing they've been abandoned) but good on him for finding his way home! Clever puskie!

    I never got an inkling you were a cat person...nice to know! They are funny beasts with lots of stories aren't they?! I need a cat right now...would probably make a good boyfriend replacement...Harryboy sounds like just the type...maybe I could send him round to my ex's for some toilet fun?! xxx

  12. I hear you about the quiet holiday this year. What happened to that idea? And why is it so difficult to make happen? I hope things are better at home and not so chaotic. Hang in there. 2 more weeks and things will quiet down!

  13. I am not a cat lover and, believe it or not, every house I go into with cats, they love me.

    My mother's cats must have known I didn't like them. Shortly before she moved with her new hubby to California when I was 15, I was sitting by the bookshelf in the apartment. I swear it was Shit (the cat's honest name) but she says it was Sir that pounced on my shoulders - claws and all.

    This past weekend I was at a friend's house. The cats there loved me too. Precious spent considerable time on my lap as we watched "It's A Wonderful Life."

    Oh well....cats!

  14. I love this story--you left me laughing with the wonderful visuals! We have five(!) cats. It's the first time I've had cats instead of dogs, and I love them. What sweet characters you've had in your life and I love HarryBoy. It sounds like the best is yet to come with him, the little leg-humper that he is (HarryBoy, not Hubs)...

  15. I'm seriously starting to think that in a parallel universe, you and I are the same person. There are the freaky shared minds posts, now it looks like we somehow have the same cat, and I haven't even ever mentioned the Indian connection.

    Our cat also likes to find something of the Mistah's - gym bag, army gear, stinky shoes, and leave him presents. I still can't get him (the Mistah, not the cat) to understand that if he leaves this stuff lying around, he can count on his things being used as a reststop.

  16. Holy psychosis, Catwoman!!!

    When our youngest daughter married and finally took her prissy cat, Olivia, off our hands, one of Olivia's first moves was to pee in son-in-law's Tumi luggage. She continued her torture of SIL for years. When it was finally time for her to meet her maker at the vet, my daughter noticed her husband in front of mirror and asked what he was doing.
    "Practicing my sad face."
    He couldn't pull it off.

  17. That is one of my all time favorite Gary Larson cartoons. We have always been dog people, and to me the best cats act like dogs...however your stories are priceless!

  18. I love this post. And cats. We have two cats - brothers rescued from St. Croix (go figure) and, yes, they were our babies before babies. My sister has cats too and we routinely play the My Cat, Your Cat game where we try to one up each other with wacky cat stories. Alas, now we play My Kid, Your Kid. Times have a-changed.

    Thanks for the great post.

  19. I like cats only if they belong to someone else. Plus, I'm highly allergic to them. LOL for the post!

  20. Hey Kitch! Congrats on the Half-Drunk piece! (It was terrific, and important. I hope many read, and re-read.

    As for cats - we were a dog household, here. But cats are plenty particular, and always worth some entertainment. (We had two wacky cats and a dog when I was growing up... the cats gave the dog a run for her money!)

  21. Do you KNOW about me and cats? I friggin' hate them. HATE. I've written about it more than once. And my mom is a Crazy Cat Lady. God, I hate those animals.

  22. Cats are a breed apart- no question. We've had a ton of them and each had a story. (but I sure don't have photos of each of them...I am so impressed!)
    The most recent experience is my daughter's cat, Prince. After you know who, who has no name or something. He is NOT a prince. He is a mean and unfriendly cat. He came to stay in August with my daughter and prowled the house constantly. Every room, every closet, every shelf and then decided his favorite place was on the mantel- among some rare glass. (I took the glass down, in fact took everything off the tables as though we had a 2 year old in the house.) He bit me twice, drew blood, and I never spoke to him again. He is my daughter's problem. She could tell you stories......

  23. We've never had the stereotypical cat. All of our cats have acted like dogs (fetching, greeting us when we come home, rolling over, playing dead (tricks we taught them), following us everywhere!) and maybe it's the way we've "raised" them or maybe it's the way they've "raised" us!

  24. Goldfish--actually, I thought of you when I was writing this post! I knew you would be totally skeebed out by this whole thing (credit to the term "skeebed" must be given to my friend, Naptimewriting, btw).

    Barbara, Prince sounds kind of like his namesake--peevish and high maintenance. I wish her well with him.

    As for those who wonder about the name Shoelaces. We got that charmer as a kitten, and as you walked by, he'd attack your shoes with verve, pretending he was a wild beast. In his mind, he always was.

    Thanks for putting up with a fucking CAT post, for Heaven's sakes! But hey, I've been compromised lately.

    Love you all.

  25. I have a cat-dog mix, too. Divine mix, aren't they?

    Popping in from Heather's....

  26. this is the ultimate post for cat lovers

  27. We have a cat, too. Well, sort of. Hubs and I got our cat when we were first married, and then we added our kids to the mix, and the cat was fine. Then we added a black lab puppy and the cat was not fine. Not fine at all. So, he decided to forsake all of us and moved down to the basement in a little snit. However, when we started to do major construction and finish the basement, we decided it wasn't safe for him to be there, so we took him to my parents for a while. Then the cat was fine. Actually the cat is in 7th heaven. My parents, on the other hand, are not. The cat is coming back on Christmas. I fear he is NOT going to be happy. Poor little guy.

  28. Oh, the kitty cat stories I could tell... Loved hearing all the crazy feline stories!

  29. We had a rabbit for a while who thought she was a cat, in that she was pissy with people, wanted to roam outside, and showed constant disdain for her surroundings. We eventually sent her off to live on a farm. Not a "farm," though...a real farm. Really.

  30. Hilarious. Especially the part about the latrine.

    I'm amazed at all the childhood photos you have access to -- the Troubadour family stash is with my mother, and she's not sharing (the originals, that is -- she'll scan anything I ask for if she can locate it in the pounds of pics we've amassed over several decades).

  31. I love our old pictures. Just love them. And your stories. And you. :)