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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

Lately I've been missing my cat -- or to be more precise, my sister's cat. Charlene died in March this year while my parents were in the Dominican Republic celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

We've always been cat people: my parents had two cats in the earlier stages of their relationship, Ginger and Twinkle (Ginger, the black "mutt" type, was so named because she and her brother Fred used to "dance," like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). They also had a German shepherd named Heidi who was of less-than-average intelligence, even for a dog. She died before I was around, having eaten a raw chicken.

Since then, my parents have been cats-only, and my sister and I grew up with cats. Twinkle, the sweet, older-than-dirt seal point Siamese, was fairly tolerant of us as kids. Ginger hated us (well, we were kids; we wanted to hold and pet). They both passed when we were 7-8 and 5-6. Twinkle was 21.

Charlene and Snowpaws were giveaway kittens from my dad's route (he worked for the post office, delivering mail until he retired almost 5 years ago) -- someone who didn't spay their female cat. So my dad brought two replacement cats home in a cardboard box: Charlene, a skinny black cat who clearly had tiger stripes when she sat in the sun, and Snowpaws, her black-with-white-chest-and-feet, Maine Coon-looking brother. Snowpaws ran away after about three years. We put up signs and hoped and prayed, but eventually figured someone else was feeding him, because he never came back.

A few years later we got a chocolate-point apple-head Siamese, Coco Puff. Appleheads, as you can see from the photo, are built more like typical American Shorthairs, not super-skinny with angular features like wedgehead Siamese cats -- that's what Twinkle was.

So Sara and I grew up with mainly Charlene and Coco, who (like many cats) loved to sit in the windows. Even when it was cold, they still sat on the backs of chairs to get a good look at what was going on outside -- especially at the living room window in front. Charlene loved that window, and would sit there every year during Beggars' Night. It was really uncanny.

Once I moved out and into an apartment of my own with my (now) husband, I got cats of my own, Trouble and Tiger (you can probably guess what he looks like; I'll just say he's orange rather than grey). Adam even loves them. Well, really, he loves all kitties. He gets excited every time he sees one, even if it's ours that he sees every day.

But I've still come home to my childhood cats and they're still my cats. I even think of my sister-in-law's cat as somewhat my cat, because the in-laws are my family now too, and family cats belong to everyone in the family. Plus, Griffin loves me. (Then again, so do most of the strays in the neighborhood -- we have a ton of those. Must just be my animal magnetism. That and my secret desire to adopt them all.)

After Adam was born, I didn't cry much. I cried all the time when I was pregnant, and really I cried a lot even before that. I suffer from chronic clinical depression, and I've been on and off of medications for the past seven years. But somehow, after we brought the baby home from the hospital, I only expressed negative feelings with anger and frustration; I never cried. So when Charlene died, my sister cried for a whole week. Me? I cried when I found out that she died in her sleep. But then I didn't cry again. Not until I read a really sad blog.

Now Halloween is drawing closer once again. I've been thinking about how for 15 years, Charlene sat in that window, and I bragged to my friends that I had a cat content enough to be part of the decorations. I love my current cats, of course.

But I still miss my kitty.





This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp. If you'd like to participate (and be entered for a chance to win a $250 VISA gift card!), write your own post about your pets by midnight tonight (Pacific Time). Click on the PBN link above for details.

Also, sorry for the depressing nature of this particular post. I promise my next post will be lighter.

11 comments:

kouji haiku

a lovely post. bittersweet. i hope that when i'm working i can have a cat of my own as well...

Mel

Kouji: Thanks! I was hoping it wasn't too melancholy... I tried to throw in some comic relief. I'm already working on my next post -- it's much happier. :) I hope you do get a cat. The two my husband and I have are from a no-kill shelter where we used to live. We try to support those whenever possible.

Amanda

I have been missing Priscilla lately too. Her and Charlene were both super cool kitties. I have been trying to get my parents to let us get another cat or maybe even a dog. I miss Pete a lot this time of year too and wish we could adopt another dog from Golden Endings. For now I'll just pretend that Andrew's Bessie is my puppy :)

kouji haiku

ah. not too melancholy. :)

true. i hope to adopt a cat from a nearby shelter eventually. also to help lighten the shelter's load a bit.

Mel

Amanda: I don't know how your parents feel about strays, but there are a ton in my neighborhood. If not, definitely go with a no-kill shelter if they say yes. I was supposed to call you last week, but I forgot. I'm lame. Sorry. :( I'll try to call tonight after work.

Kouji: Oh, good. Yeah, shelters can use all the help they can get.

Wayfaring Wanderer

My two boys love the window in our room....I swear they are right there watching the sunrise as soon as light breaks.

P.S.
Amanda from Welcome to my Life nominated you to win a prize in the giveaway I'm doing. Maybe you'd like to come over and nominate someone, too!?

Mel

Wayfaring Wanderer: Trouble and Tiger looove our current apartment with its windowsills. Especially when a momma bird built her nest and had babies there this spring. :)

I'm heading over to your blog right now!

motherbumper

21? TWENTY-ONE? Wow.

I'm also a cat person (though the current ones are driving me mad) and was raised with felines who were not only pets but family. I miss many of them too.

Mel

Motherbumper: Yeah, Twink was a Siamese... they often live awhile (oldest I've heard of is 22) -- although my friend's childhood cat is 20, I think, and she's not Siamese at all. Just good genes I guess.

Doesn't everyone in our families drive us mad at some point? :)

Honey Mommy

My husband is not a pet person, but I will always fondly remember the cat we had while we were growing up. Her name was "Kitty" and she lived around 15 years.

Sometimes I think a nice kitty to pet would be great even if I am a bit allergic!

Mel

Honey Mommy: Ha ha, we've had pets with names like that. I have a lot of friends who are allergic to cats -- but they always come over and pet mine anyway. :)

Everyone who's still reading these comments: Hey, guys, I know it's been awhile since I've posted. I will be posting again soon; please bear with me while I sort out my real life.

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