When I had one of those allergy skin tests, the “cat” spot looked not unlike Richard Dreyfuss’ mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters. My mom, who was already unhappy about the score of cats we had roaming around our country place was doubly displeased. I was to be married and I think she hoped I’d take my catnagerie with me to Tennessee. Nevermind that farmcats don’t do well in 850sq ft apartments.
I loved cats, so much so that I made videos of them for school projects and had one in one of my senior pictures. But the allergy thing, combined with our Tennessee rental contract pretty much made the cat thing out of the question. No cats for me.
So when the emaciated kitten started skulking around the neighbourhood my husband didn’t tell me about her for a long while. When he finally spilled the beans my reaction (“We have to at least FEED her!”) was predictable. I’ve long been known by family as the person who will take in a stray anything. If it weren’t for their exertion of wiser forces and cooler heads my house would be overrun with cats, dogs and down-on-their-luck young people.
It took a couple of weeks of hangdog expressions but I finally got to buy some 9 Lives Moist Cat Food (“Which flavour do you think she’ll like–Salmon, Turkey, or Chicken and Turkey?”…”What’s the one you’ve got in your hand? That’s good enough.”) and set up a little bed in the garage.
Since then my little friend stops by every couple of days for a bit of food and napping and a howling conversation that sounds as if she’s halfway scolding me for not having the right flavour of cat food and halfway telling me I’m a jerk but she’ll eat here anyway and could i pet her please? I talk to her awhile and pet her and then she skulks off again for parts unknown. I then return inside for a Silkwood shower and a scolding from the two dogs who view this whole operation as nothing less than fraternisation with the enemy.
I’ve decided to call her Louise–“Lou” for short–since she hangs around the glass studio and I’m not calling anything living, dead or inbetween “Tiffany”. I toyed with “comfort” for awhile, but that seemed too ironic and also a little bit cruel. So ‘Lou’ it is, even though my husband says with a name like that she’ll never be back. He still just calls her ‘kitty’.
I protest. That’s my name.