with its whiskers, ears, and paws…
and the child saw a cat.
. . .
Then the cat came to some water.
Imagine what it saw.
from They All Saw a Cat
written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books, 2016
read on YouTube 9/27/2020
Last Saturday, someone I saw in a Zoom meeting asked me how I was doing. A mundane question, but I decided to go for the truth. I answered, “I have this underlying feeling of terror overlaid with a combination of angst and profound sadness.” Well, that kinda stopped his clock for a second, then he answered, “Me too.”
So, instead of hurricanes, fires, Supreme Court Justice nominations, the Electoral College, COVID-19 and the economic crisis, Climate Catastrophe, plastic in the ocean, policing issues, or Black Lives Matter, I want to tell you something big in my little world.
My husband and I adopted a cat.
She’s gray with white fingers and toes. She has a white bib, too. I named her Pearl, in honor of Hester Prynne’s daughter, Pearl. Even though Hester was ostracized and made to wear a scarlet letter “A” announcing her adultery, Pearl was born because her parents loved each other. She reflects the hope every new child represents to his or her parents. For me Love + Hope = Pearl.
Of course, that got me thinking about the word, adultery, itself. Turns out it does not originate from a form of “adult” (like I thought), but from the 1300 CE French, avoutrie, “voluntary violation of the marriage bed,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/adultery. In Modern French it became adultĕre. Adultery is related to the verb “to alter” and the noun form, “adulteration.”
Back to our new Pearl. She is very gentle. She comes to me when I call her. She loves attention, but not too much cuddling. She’s a good eater and knows what her potty is for. I think she’s about a year old.
She needs an appointment with our veterinarian. We need to get negative results on a Feline Leukemia test, also Feline AIDS. She will need vaccinations and probably will need to be spayed. I made the first appointment I could get, this coming Friday afternoon. She’s living in the basement for now. Just to be sure.
To be a real part of our family, she’ll need to meet our Gang of Three. We’ve introduced many cats to each other over the years. Generally, they get along well together. Whether the pattern is real friendship, mere tolerance, or an uneasy understanding, fights are rare (and not tolerated).
I expect another easy transition.
I got my first cat when I was about 12. The father in the family I babysat for became allergic to their cat, a male, when he grew into his adulthood. Princey was really big, a black and white tom cat. When he bird-watched in the window sill, he filled up the whole thing. He was a gentleman except for the times he saw something none of us humans did. He’d run up and down the steps and jump half-way up the wall in the downstairs hallway. Then, just as mysteriously, curl up on his favorite chair and take a nap.
When I was in high school I had a job and my own money. After Princey lived out his long life, I asked for another cat. By now my parents liked cats, too. I bought a show cat, Cricket, a chocolate-point Siamese with a pink nose. Dad took me to the west side of Cleveland (about an hour’s drive from our house) to pick her up. She took to him, right away. Maybe because he gave her baloney for lunch.
Borgia was a birthday present. She was a small, black Hemingway cat. She had six toes on each foot and six fingers on each hand. She lived with me through many difficult transitions and many household moves. She finally became an outside cat and went to live with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law far away on their farm-sized property, complete with a barn. I’m still sad when I think about her.
My husband had a cat named Samantha when we met. I had a daughter named Samantha. Wow! Something else we had in common. Samantha the Cat lived a long and good life. One day, she didn’t come upstairs for breakfast. I found her laying peacefully in front of the dryer. Just like that we were catless.
Then my older daughter found Midnight. She started coming around and we fed her. Of course she kept coming back. We took her to the vet, and took her in. one night, unbeknownst to us, she went outside and came back in an altered state. Soon she had four beautiful kittens. And so did we. We found good homes for them all.
Since then we’ve given a home to lots of cats. Charlie, Pumpkin, Tristan, Vernon (on a short loan from my younger daughter), Blue, Frances, Tippy, Gus, and Pearl. They each have (or had) unique personalities. I have stories about each one, but Pearl.
She’ll tell me some good ones. I’m sure of it!
-—stay curious! (and love a cat, or two)