Working from home presents a whole new set of complications — particularly if you have children. While sympathetic to the problems a parent might encounter, I had no idea how impactful it might be — until now.
Who do you think of when you hear these words: feisty, determined, flirty, independent? The first person who comes to my mind is Scarlett O’Hara. Not only do I think of the character in “Gone With The Wind,” but I’m also reminded of my little cat, Katie Scarlett. She arrived when some neighborhood children found Scarlett and her four siblings. She immediately claimed her dominance among the pride. I found homes for two kittens, three remained with me – Scarlett, Melanie, and Gatsby.
Walking my sister’s dog was an adventure for Scarlett. She ran ahead, came back and informed the dog she was far too slow, urging her to speed up the pace. A neighbor, down the street, had a bird bath in her back yard. Now there was a favorite place for my little girl. She’d crouch and hide, waiting for a bird to land. Then as it took wing, she’d leap in the air, sometimes catching her prey. There was more than one time I was running to save the bird. Her agility was stunning, especially for such a petite kitty.
I traveled in my last job, and my neighbor’s boys took turns petsitting for my cats. I returned one day and realized after a few moments that someone was missing. Where was Scarlett? I went outside calling her name and clapping my hands. I walked toward the birdbath house, and suddenly she appeared. She had a lot to say. I don’t know how long she was outside, but it was long enough for her to vent her anger. Her meowisms could be interpreted to mean, “Where have you been? Do you know how long I’ve been out here? I’m hungry. Get me some food! After I eat, I’m going to bed — don’t disturb me. I need my beauty sleep.” Scarlett did not suffer in silence.
Those memories are from long ago. My Katie is 19 years old (or 92 in human years). Life has become more difficult. She’s not interested in grooming herself, and her fur is somewhat matted. Her teeth are getting lose so eating is a challenge. My beautiful Katie Scarlett seems to be saying, “It’s time to call it a day.”
The downside for any pet owner is accepting the end and making it easier for our little friends. As I think about Scarlett’s quote, “After all, tomorrow is another day,” I realize sadly it will be a day without my little darling. Rest in Peace dear Scarlett.
Five years ago, my neighbor came over, asking if I could help her. She had a kitten that had literally been blown under her vehicle by a passing car. She didn’t know what to feed him, had no litter, and no place to leave him when she went to work. I explained I was unable to take him, and as you might guess that lasted all of about 2 minutes. There he was — all one pound of him and that bewitching little face.
Compared to the other cats in the family he was small, but in his mind, he was also mighty. His first toy was a turtle. He amused himself swatting it a couple of times, then picked it up in his mouth and shook it emitting a deep growl. He was surprised by my laughter, but the sight of him waving a toy turtle that was as big as his head while growling was hysterical.
His antics reminded me of the games played by Kato and Clouseau in the “Pink Panther,” hence his name. In my house there were many Katos, none of whom wished to play the game. In spite of their feelings, he would race across the room, jump on furniture, then fly through the air front paws outstretched landing on his prey. He loved it.
Monsieur Clouseau’s language preference was French. He did not adhere to the Henry Higgins opinion, that “the French don’t care what you say, as long as you pronounce it correctly.” Perhaps that is because his English pronunciation was so horrible (he literally murdered the word “room.”)
Clouseau would start his day with his sun salutation, then go up on the roof to “cat-scan” the neighborhood. A devotee of yoga, he invented a new pose which he called the “vulture pose.”
As my boy grew in stature, he also became quite the man about town. The stories of Clouseau are legend. He actually enjoyed visiting the veterinary clinic when I was traveling. Of course, he insisted on having full run of the place meowing loudly so he’d be freed from his cage. He made friends with neighborhood kitties, and when he met his girlfriend, Gabrielle, he begged his mom, “Puis-je la garder s’il vous plait maman?” (may I keep her please mama).
A few weeks ago Clouseau became ill, and we discovered he was acutely anemic. My vet recommended that he go to an emergency veterinary hospital. Of course, Clouseau demonstrated his witchcraft at the new place. He attempted to steal food from the dog in the next cage and demanded attention all the time. After some treatment, it was determined he could come home, but the prognosis was devastating and by Saturday, February 10 any hope of more time was dashed.
Clouseau loved being outside, climbing on the roof, sleeping on the hood my car. We spent his last hours in the backyard while we waited for the vet to arrive, and end his pain. As he drifted off, I whispered in his ear, “Bonne nuit mon gentil garcon, mon petit bonhomme. Je t’aime mon cher Clouseau.”
As many of my readers know, I have six kitties. Three are about 18 years old, which in human years makes them much older than I. The remaining three are under five.
I take after my dad, who loved animals. He would have had several pets if possible. My mother, on the other hand, felt one pet in the family was more than sufficient.
The latest addition to my lair is a fellow I call Teddy. He’s named after my eldest brother. Ted and I have a history of dubbing our pets with familial monikers. It started with his naming his pug dog Bonnie after our mom. Mother was annoyed.
Over the years, I’ve had dogs and cats. Mother liked them but became critical of the number of cats living at my address. I recall several years ago, just before a visit from mom, a new cat appeared on the scene. I knew she would have an opinion about the newcomer.
Mom arrived, walked into the kitchen and spied the foreigner lying on the floor. As I recall, the ensuing dialogue went something like this:
Mom: “What’s this?”
Me: “A cat.”
Mom: “You know what I mean, what’s it doing here?”
Me: “He lives here.”
Mom: (deep sigh) “Sharon, why do you have another cat?”
Me: “It isn’t something I planned. He appeared and took up residence. I couldn’t arbitrarily dismiss a fellow who is named after your father, and looks quite a bit like your husband.”
Mother often said I gave human qualities to pets, but naming him Fred and noticing a resemblance between the cat and Wally was genius!
At the conclusion of her visit, mom said, “You know he does look a little like Wally. She never questioned Fred’s presence again.
While everyone referred to my brother as Ted, his birth certificate specified his given name was Raymond. Ted would appreciate this little fellow dubbed Teddy, although I guess he could argue that I didn’t name Teddy after him!
Teddy is a big, long-haired, grey, creature. His favorite things are eating, racing through the house with wild abandon, playing with the other kitties, trying to operate my computer, and sleeping on my bed.
The other day I said to him, “You’re just a big Teddy Bear.” That’s when I noticed his resemblance to a Koala “Bear.”
Let me show you:
So there you have it. Teddy is named after my brother — only he isn’t. He looks something like a Koala Bear, but he isn’t one. Some might say Teddy looks like a marsupial lion, but they haven’t been around for thousands of years so who knows? I’ve yet to hear him say “G’day” as he enters a room — so much for an Australian accent.
To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, “Teddy by any other name would be as sweet.”
Eighteen years ago some children came running to my house announcing they had found some kittens. There was a white kitty, an orange tabby, a tuxedo boy, a tortoise-shell girl and a beige female. The kids quickly told me the mommy was dead. Thinking back, I have no idea how true that was. They were all about 4 – 5 weeks old. After a couple of weeks of care and feeding, I found homes for 2 of them. The remaining 3 (orange tabby female, male tuxedo cat, and tortoise-shell female) needed names. I was in a literary frame of mind and the 2 girls were named Melanie and Katie Scarlett (GWTW). I actually considered naming the tuxedo cat Rhett Butler, but it just didn’t fit his personality. The runt of the litter when he arrived, he appeared to have dreams of becoming larger than life. As a result he became my Great Gatsby.
Melanie was the family “greeter.” She figured anyone entering our abode was there to see her. She would attempt to ingratiate herself to any new comer — never thinking they might be allergic to her. “To me? Never.”
Originally she was a rather quiet girl, but in more recent years found her voice. This often came out in anger. If I tried to arise and she was on my lap I heard, “MEOW….MEOW.” She also informed me that what I considered my side of the bed, was actually hers. with a very loud, “MEOWWWWWWW!”
Mellie (her preferred nickname) started loosing weight about a week ago. Her usual zest for eating was different, and then all of a sudden her tummy was distended. I was sure she wasn’t pregnant. Aside from being neutered, she’s 18 years old (93 in human years). We were off to the vet. After an x-ray and exam, he said, “It doesn’t look good.” He suggested I take her home and “just love her.” It’s amazing how quickly she deteriorated and on April 22 she breathed her last.
There is a down side to having pets. They give unconditional love, and are wonderful companions. However their life span in human years is predictably shorter than ours. For now, I find an emptiness I didn’t have only 72 hours ago. And, my little girl, has quite literally gone with the wind. Sleep tight Mel.