A Do-Nothing Cat
Cattus Semper Dormientes
“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”Mark Twain
“If cats could write history, their history would be mostly about cats.”Eugen Weber
February, 2020 – My youngest daughter, Lily, was in need of a pet, at least to visit one.
We had lost our beloved Emma, the orange and white tabby of 18 years, the previous November.
When my daughters were young, my wife had told her best friend, Donna, she was thinking about getting them a pet, like a gerbil. That horrified Donna who had another idea.
Emma, the as yet unnamed feline was delivered to Connecticut from Long Island via the ferry by Donna. She was accompanied by her mother and cat accoutrements. They said hello, then goodbye and immediately got back in their car for their trip home.
This left my wife alone with a stray cat who quickly made himself at home.
When my wife brought our daughters back to the house, the cat ran up to them and quickly made new friends. Lily and her older sister Grace asked if they could keep the cat. Genifer said yes and they all started to cry for joy.
The girls named the cat Emma Pumpkinseed.
Emmy had a great personality, more like a dog than a feline. I took the cat for its first check-up, told the vet the name of our new pet and he responded by saying we should name him Elmo, not Emma. We didn’t know it, but Emma had previously been neutered.
Genifer made me swear not to tell the girls the true sex of the cat for fear of traumatizing them. I didn’t think that would happen, but I played along with our secret for several years.
When Grace and Lily did learn the truth, they didn’t go into shock and the anticipated crisis never materialized. They just went back to playing with Emma.
Lily, Grace, Genifer and I had a wonderful 17 years with Emma. We all shed tears when we had to put her down. Based on when we got “her”, he was probably pushing 20.
Now, three months after that sad day, it was clear to Genifer, that Lily needed a cat fix.
Before Valentine’s Day 2020, they took a road trip to New Haven, Connecticut to visit the Mew Haven Cat Cafe. Simple concept, buy some coffee and visit a room full of cats who were not caffeinated.
After a while, my wife noticed that Lily wasn’t with her. She found her sitting in an alcove with a cat circling our daughter and then laying on her lap, purring very loud. One look from Lily to Genifer was all it took to get hooked. They weren’t there to get a cat, just to see them. But when an animal picks you and not the other way around, the connection is so much stronger.
“You didn’t save a cat. A cat saved you.”Kendare Blake
The cat, called Cedar by the establishment, had just pulled off the feline version of three-card monte. He reeled in his mark, and scored. Every cat knows a good purr always suckers in the humans.
Genifer began to fill out the adoption papers.
Bring Home the Baby
Upon returning home, I was told the story of what had occurred at the Mew Haven Cafe. I wasn’t surprised, but before Cedar was going to move in with us, I was granted the courtesy of seeing the hustler for myself.
Now a few days after Valentine’s Day, Genifer, Grace, Lily and I were off to see Cedar. I knew before I got in the car, we were coming home with an additional passenger.
We bought some coffee and moved next door to the area where the cats were hanging out. Lily found Cedar, a one-year-old tabby with black and dark gray markings plus a very long tail. A handsome male who wasn’t afraid to show off his card-shark skills in re-connecting with his mark. I was wise to the cat’s game, but how could I say no after seeing the joy on Lily’s face.
My wife completed filling out the forms from the original visit and handed over the money to cover the cost of shots, neutering and the chip that was implanted in Cedar in case the cat went missing.
The four humans and the cat got in the car for the ride home, but someone was about to get a name change.
I asked Lily the obvious question, “What are you naming your cat?” She and Grace had anticipated their parents’ capitulation and decided that Chester would be the tabby’s new name. It was a good choice; we all liked the sound of it.
The Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, It isn’t just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily, Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey – All of them sensible everyday names. There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter, Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames: Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter – But all of them sensible everyday names. But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular, A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride? Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum – Names that never belong to more than one cat. But above and beyond there’s still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover – But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
I’ll bet the house Chester isn’t calling himself Effanineffable or Bombalurina. More likely Kibbleicious than Quaxo or Coricopat.
If he does know his name, he’s keeping it a secret. Anyway, he lives a simple life and has a simple name, Chester, and that’s just fine with us.
As we started our drive back home, Chester began meowing in a way that didn’t sound like a happy cat. Wasn’t this his decision to make a future with our family? The answer was an emphatic yes, yet something was wrong.
When we got home, Chester hid under the sofa, and when he did come out to explore his new surroundings, was very lethargic. He was also bleeding from the nose.
My wife called the vet.
The last time we had been to the vet, it was to put down our cat of 18 years, Emma. Now it was to find out what was wrong with Chester and keep him alive. Having your new pet die within the first week of ownership wasn’t going to go over well on a number of levels.
Genifer and Lily took our new family member to the animal doctor. The physician examined Chester and determined he had pneumonia and was incensed that the cat would have been handed over to us in such a condition. Chester wasn’t ill when Genifer and Lily first met him. They got the medicines and instructions on how to get Chester healthy again and came home.
My wife is from New Jersey. I’ve learned many times you don’t cross a Jersey girl. Genifer is sugar and spice and everything nice, until she’s not. That happens when I say or do something stupid, which is an attribute I excel at. She can also direct her ire at someone in the outside world who does the same. On this occasion she focused her displeasure at the people who had Chester before us.
To her credit, my wife was stern but diplomatic in explaining the condition of the feline that was handed over to us. It wasn’t like she had to complain about a dead parrot; nevertheless, we had accrued a nice bill for the vet and medicine to wean Chester back to health.
The good folks at the Mew Haven Cafe at first said they would take the cat back, but that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, they agreed to pay for the medical bills. This decision avoided the usual Jersey suggestion of a ride to the Pine Barrens, a location that some people mysteriously don’t return from.