Category Archives: cats

New Intruder

This is a piece i wrote 19 years ago that I found when I was sorting through old files. A few months after Lulu’s arrival, Annie decided to join us as well, and although both of the kittens   have now joined Bear in that great scratching post in the sky, I enjoyed reading this story after so many years, so perhaps you will, too.

Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.

New Intruder

My closet rattles. One door is slightly ajar. Something is being batted about on the floor inside. A paw is visible now and then when it comes close to the bottom edge of the door. Once a nose with white whiskers peeks out, then shoots back in like a jack-in-the-box.

My tiny new kitten was a street waif. She arrived complete with sticky streaks on her underside and chin. She arrived with fleas and one sore eye–– the green one. The other eye is blue. There is a perfect fish outlined in white on a charcoal colored patch on her back. Her very long ears are a pale peach color and her head is big on an extremely thin body. Already after 4 days, she is starting to acquire a small pot belly from regular meals. The vet says she is four weeks old, but her body is so tiny and weightless that she seems more like a large mouse than a cat. I fear stepping on her and in fact have, but when I did, she made not a peep and her bones seemed to spring back like a sponge.

Her long eye whiskers were singed back almost to hair level in an unfortunate encounter with the gas burners on my stove. She is so fast that she leaped up on the counter before I could stop her. In similar fashion, she had walked across the bubble wrap jacuzzi cover that floated on the top of the water, so light that she made it from one side to the other without sinking. Another time, she leaped from the back of a chair to the top of the high metal display case, where her claws made little ingress into the metal and where for a few seconds she clung from the edge like a mountain climber before falling to the tile floor five feet below. Five minutes later, her head peeked up from the opening at the top of the lampshade of the lamp on the telephone table. This house is her new world, and she is the Magellan of cats.

Two weeks before, I had found Bear, my cat of 15 years, floating lifeless in my pool. It was horrible. I had seen the cat born and his burial seemed a reversal of the birth process. We buried him in the garden wrapped in his favorite silk sari from the end of my bed, and with the mouse-shaped doorstop he loved to bat around the house. I buried with him my intention not to have any more pets for a while. None could replace him.

Then, two weeks later, a mouse had streaked across the street in front of me and entered the store I was about to enter. Upon closer examination, the streak had been a tiny kitten that had leaped into a huge display basket of scarves, and it hadn’t taken too much encouragement by the shop owner to get me to promise to stop back by before we left that night to see if the kitten had been claimed by an owner or adopted by someone more determined to have a cat than I was.

Every animal I’d ever had in my life had come to me by accident or by its own volition, so when this placeless cat appeared, I had by habit accepted the karma and now she sleeps each night on my chest or on the pillow by my right ear. I am slightly allergic to her, and although she doesn’t flinch when I cough and sneeze, when I get up for a drink of water, she miaows. This word perfectly describes the sound she makes. She is loud. The sound of her echoes through my high-ceilinged brick and stucco house. “ Miaow, miaow, miaow, miaow,” but somehow it seems to belong here––to fill out the silence that might otherwise only be filled by the sounds of the television or the computer or the stereo––sounds that do not breathe or jump up to the arm of my chair or respond to a reassuring pat or the sound of the can opener. With the appearance of this newest little intruder, once again, my house has become a home.

With Workmen Here

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With Workmen Here

The cats have flown, I know not where.
They’ve chosen to remain aloof.
They don’t await me on the stair.
The cats have flown, I know not where.
Not one to steal my favorite chair.
I do not hear them on the roof.
The cats have flown, I know not where.
They’ve chosen to remain aloof.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a triolet. A triolet is an eight-line poem. All the lines are in iambic tetrameter (for a total of eight syllables per line), and the first, fourth, and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines. This means that the poem begins and ends with the same couplet. Beyond this, there is a tight rhyme scheme (helped along by the repetition of lines) ABaAabAB.

 

 

Cat Meditation

(Click on first photo and then on arrows to enlarge photos.)

Cat Meditation

Entwined in my jacket, spread out on my quilt,
my cats take up the space they frequent with so little guilt.
I wonder what they visualize in their cache of dreams?
Is their sleep as peaceful as it always seems?

The dogs may twitch and bark and reach out paws in times of rest,
but cat sleep is so tranquil. They “do” their sleep the best.
They need no permission to tuck their chores away

and wander inward to their dreams, be it night or day.

Oh that I could rest away from all the world’s mad clatter. 
The dreams they dream upon your lap are helpful in the latter—
their purr the loveliest mantra to help your mind unfurl
as you become their mattress, pinned beneath their curl.

Words for the day are purr, visualize, helpful, cache and jacket.

Extended Family

Extended Family

My furry raider sloshed through rain
out to the barn and back again,
but next trip was a passenger
his human cuddled close to her
so both could view the transient
new mother so intently bent
over her bounty, newly born
this blustery, rainy, wind-swept morn.

One more thing born that rainy day
around three homeless ones that lay
snuggled down within the hay
protected from the weather’s fray—
a sense of family between
an old male cat, once feral, mean—
who had been taken in himself
and these three waifs, curled on a shelf
within that barn where I’d found him.
Now both of us discovered them
and that day welcomed them, all three
to our extended family.

Prompt words today are raiderslosh, transient, bounty, and passenger.

4 A.M.

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4 A.M.

The old cat yowls a caustic moan—a banshee’s rough lament.
It rips my slumber wide apart. My gentle dream is rent.
A night comprised of eight-hours sleep would now seem heaven-sent.
My friends urge euthanasia, but I’m of another bent.

I toast the bread and spread the jam. I let my coffee vent,
then take a sip and watch the cat sip oil but not dent
the surface of the tiny can of shrimp and cod I’ve bent
to plop into my grandma’s dish that was never meant
to house a meal for animals—that family heirloom leant
power by its years of use—everywhere it went.

No human family member can know the full extent
of what this antiquated vessel means in its descent.
It is a loving blessing. A secret grand event—

a little ceremony to honor her ascent
to wherever old cats go when it’s time to absent
themselves from an easy life that’s turned into torment.

Why can I not cut loose the cord? I am a dissident
regarding being left once more. Those other loves that went
more silent into that good night, finally content,
somehow have not prepared me for this coming event.
I cannot be the agent hastening her demise.
The cat and I return to bed to close our stubborn eyes.

 

Prompt words for today are comprise, tout, lament, antiquated and bread.

 

Rude Awakening: Morning Ritual

 

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“The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, ‘The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation … everything that has black sounds in it, has duende.”

Rude Awakening: Morning Ritual

The duende of the old cat’s wail jars me from a dream.
Her volume grows with every piercing, throaty, grating scream.
And though it seems her hunger cannot wait for light,
when I spoon out her victuals, she does not take a bite.

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I rub her ears and skull and chin now that I’m awake
as the first muted rays of light soak into the lake.
The dogs detect my movement and paw their haven’s door,
scraping their metal dishes across the tile floor.

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Outside the far-off kitchen, the young cats voice their wail,
calling me too early to my day’s travail.

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Reluctantly I slog out to fulfill their rude request,
as the old cat circles and sinks to her warm nest.

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Since her breakfast, still untouched, sits crusting in her bowl,
it seems that desayuno never was her goal.
She’s merely been the chanticleer who has done her best
to arouse the world before returning to her rest.

Prompt words today are victualsduende, volume, awake.