I started this last week (or was it the week before??) and then never finished it. I wasn’t sure I wanted or even needed to continue with the quote posts. But it was definitely kind of fun to be given a prompt every day and let it dictate what I was going to write. I’m not sure I will continue to do these on a daily basis anymore, but I will definitely pull from the book on a regular basis.
I read today’s quote and was a little annoyed. How are they gonna throw me a cat quote??? Over time, I have become less than a fan of the creatures. But, I suppose it is what it is.
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau
I get to tell you all about the one and only cat I ever personally owned as an adult.
A little back story first though.
My mom was a cat lover. She always owned one, for as long as I can remember.
We took one in when I was very young, maybe four or so. It was a stray if I remember correctly, and I loved it immensely, as any young child does an animal. I may have written about her in the blog series about mom, so perhaps I’m repeating a story you already know. But not everyone has been following for so long, so I’ll tell you about Daphne.
First, I loved the cartoon character Daphne from Scooby-Doo. I thought she was absolutely gorgeous with her red hair and her love of fashion. Kind of funny that I turned out to be kind of the opposite with my love of t-shirts and jeans, but that’s neither here nor there. When I was a little girl I loved dresses and pretty things, and I thought Daphne was the epitome of beauty. So when Mom asked me what we should name the cat that we ended up with, I immediately picked the name ‘Daphne’. We ended up calling her ‘New-news’ because the cat was a wanderer. She would disappear for days and then reappear when she ran out of food options (I’m guessing). My mom would just laugh and open the door for her when she would meow and say, “What’s the news, News?”
Unfortunately the cat met her demise on the busy street we lived on. One of Mom’s friends saw her get hit by a semi. I was told of the accident and I was inconsolable. They couldn’t just leave her in the street, they needed to go and collect her body, and we needed to bury her. I was insistent and I wouldn’t be soothed by anyone’s reasons as to why we couldn’t.
And I also was positive that they were wrong, that it was a different cat.
“If you’re so sure it’s her you’ll let me see her body,” I pouted at my mom’s boyfriend, folding my arms over my chest and staring at him defiantly. He had agreed to collect her body, and told me we would give her a ‘burial at sea’ – in other words, we would put her in a shoe box and throw the box in the near by river. This seemed acceptable to me, but I was just positive that it wasn’t my cat laying in the middle of Main Street. It had to be someone elses.
He went and discussed it with my mom, who was adamant that I should not see the dead cats body. But I was a pain in the ass about it and finally frustrated with me she agreed. “You’ll be sorry once you see her,” she said to me. “She got hit by a semi honey. Her body is likely mangled. You won’t probably even be able to tell it’s a damn cat.” I still insisted, and glared at her as I put on my shoes. I marched out of the house to go and find the cat.
Mom’s boyfriend followed after me, and catching up walked down the street with me. I was a slight child, wearing the smallest variations of the sizes available for my height. He was closer to six-five and a rather burly looking German man. We must have been a sight walking side by side down Main Street. He was abusive to my mother as I’ve previously written, but he worshiped us kids. He shortened his stride to match mine so he wouldn’t walk too far ahead, and tried to reason with me about this thing I was dead set on.
“At least let me look at her first before you do. If it’s too bad I’m not going to let you look, I don’t care what you or your mother says,” he said, finally putting his foot down with me. I accepted his authoritive tone and stopped when he told me we had reached where she was at.
He shook his head as he looked down, but before he could say one way or another whether I was free to come and look I walked quickly over to where he stood.
I promptly screamed and ran towards home. She was indeed mangled. I still knew it was my cat, though.
I ran into the house, hysterical. He followed behind me shortly thereafter, and explained what had happened to my mother, who was not pleased to say the least.
And after calming me down some, we did indeed give Daphne a burial at sea. But I definitely had an aversion to cats afterwards. It was just another thing that added to a progressing fear of death that was damn near a phobia by the time my dad got custody of us just a year later.
I was about 19, and working at the nursing home as the 2nd shift supervisor. I worked more than I did anything, working sixty odd hours a week sometimes. I genuinely cared for the people in the home. It was an Alzheimer’s/dementia facility, and every single one of the residents held a special place in my heart. I loved their little quirks and jokes, their words of wisdom.
Somehow, a stray cat had gotten essentially adopted by the people living and working there. I’m not sure how it even came about, to be honest. Because of health codes we couldn’t allow her to live in the home, but we set food out for her and each of the employees chipped in for it. I don’t even remember this cats name. I wasn’t at a place in my life where I cared one way or another about anything but my paycheck and the people that provided it, and my social life. Between work and said social life I stayed busy. The cat was just another thing I needed to make sure was taken care of on my shift.
The cat became pregnant, of course. It was cold outside and during the night hours we allowed the cat to come in from the cold in a little used entrance that led to the basement. This is where she had her kittens.
Our boss was adamant about getting rid of the animals, and asked that anyone with the means to take a kitten. I figured why the hell not – I had no kids at this time, and had grown up with cats. How hard could it be?
I went out into the small entry way and sat down beside the cat and her kittens. I picked each one up individually, and they all just looked at me with their half open eyes, and squirmed to be back down with their mother.
That final kitten I picked up – beautiful steel grey fur with bright blue eyes – mewed loudly in annoyance. “Aww, did I piss you off?” I asked it. It promptly reached out and bit me on the tip of my nose.
“Oh, you’re definitely the one.” I said laughing. With an attitude like that? Absolutely.
I set her back down with her mother, and told anyone who would listen about how my cat had chosen me. I had to wait a little while to take her home, she was too young to separate from her mother.
While I waited, I would take time each shift to pay some attention to my cat. I just adored her. She was full of attitude and determination. She was the first to wander away from her mother, and bitched and complained by mewing loudly when she was picked up and moved back. She wouldn’t allow anyone but me to pick her up, but still only tolerated a little bit of my attention, complaining to be let down soon after I picked her up. She chased bugs in the grass when I would take her outside when it started to warm up, unafraid of any sort of consequences in the big world around her.
I’m not sure if you remember the cartoon where Daffy Duck encountered an abominable snow man, and he thought Daffy was a damn rabbit and said, “I will name him George and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him!” This is what this kitten reminded me of, always wanting to be put down and mewing loudly for me to do so. “I will name her George and I will love her and hug her and squeeze her! ” I declared to my boss. He shook his head at me and chuckled, walking downstairs to his office.
And so she was named George, and I soon took her home to our apartment, after having bought all the supplies she may need. Toys and a litter box and cat treats and food.
But George continued to be the pain in the ass that she had been as a young kitten.
She hadn’t been trained how to use a litter box by her mother, and so she flung shit up on my wall as she tried to learn how to cover it in the box. This also resulted in litter scattered around the box and a subsequent broken vacuum. She would hide in the apartment -usually in out of the way places – and then cry because she couldn’t find her way out. She played with my roommates son’s baby toys, much to my roommates annoyance. I thought getting a cat was a great idea. I was apparently no more ready to raise a cat than I was ready to raise a human full time.
I often didn’t make it home until near 3am most nights, working until 11pm and hanging out with friends until the early morning hours. And she insisted that this was the time to play, jumping on my back and playing with the tag of my tank top while I tried to finally sleep. EVERY NIGHT. I would sigh and move her down off the bed, and she would mew to be picked back up. Not knowing what was worse, her playing with the tag or her mewing sadly, I would pick her up. And she would find the tag in the dark and continue playing with it. One time in particular I got overly annoyed after an hour of her shenanigans, and put her down off the bed and finally fell asleep despite her cries to be picked back up. Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to use the bathroom. I swung my feet off the bed and stepped down where she was apparently at. She swung her body around and latched around my foot, digging her claws into my ankle on both sides. I swore and yelled and detached her from my skin gingerly. I tried not to be mad, and after going to the bathroom to clean the rather deep gouges I tried to go back to sleep. . . except she was crying again to be picked up. Tired and now in a bit of pain, I picked her up. And she curled up at the small of my back as I laid on my stomach, and we both finally slept.
Life happened and my friend and I moved out of our apartment in a hurry when we weren’t able to pay rent one month. I went over with a guy I was seeing to get a few final items, and to pick up George, who sadly couldn’t go with us. I was taking her to my mom when we left. We sat down to rest after moving a load of items to my station wagon, and the cat sat underneath a stray kitchen chair, staring at him.
“What the fuck is wrong with that cat?” he asked me. “Why is she staring at me?”
“I don’t know, man. She’s strange.” I answered.
He proceeded to walk over to where the chair was at, and knealt down to look at her. As soon as he got eye level with her, she popped up and put her paws on the back of the chair. He then sat up to try and get eye level with her again. And she brought her paws back down to the floor, where she had been previously. They went back and forth like this several times.
“Seriously. What is up with this cat?! Is she really fucking with me like this?!” Meanwhile I couldn’t breathe, I was laughing so hard.
“She is indeed fucking with you,” I said when I could breathe again.
The story doesn’t have a happy ending, really. I took her to my mom, who gladly took her in. She loved animals with ‘character’ as she called it, and loved my George. It was soon found that George had feline leukemia however, and was put down within a year of her moving with Mom.
I can see how a cat such as George could have had a huge impact on the happiness in a home, with her attitude and quirks and apparent sarcasm. I can’t say that I will ever own a cat again after these two memorable encounters with felines. I have also seen how a cat can tear up a home through my line of work, and have decided that owning a cat is not something I want to do. I can definitely see why people love the creatures, though.
Instead of cats, I have children. Who also have attitude and quirks and sarcasm. And they too are the visible soul of my home. It’s such a boring place when they aren’t around to brighten it up with their incessant nonsense.
So I guess this quote wasn’t a horrible one. I just had to work my way through it to find it’s meaning for me.
Happy Tuesday. May you find the thing that gives your home it’s soul.