Monday, December 7, 2009

Every Life Should Have Nine Cats


1971 - Patches the Cat gives birth in my bedroom; me, Lisa, Denise, and Steve


TODAY'S MEMORY JOGGER: "What is your favorite animal, and why?"

If you know me at all, you already know my answer to this question:

TIGERS!!

Yep.  Really.  They are my favorite animal because they are SO cool, so regal and gorgeous, and they are the only Big Cats that actually LIKE water (there are white tigers at Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA., that dive underwater!) but, since I can't have a tiger as a pet I, have settled for my second favorite - CATS!  Orange-striped cats, to be exact - just like tigers!  And the pair of orange-striped cats that currently live with me also like water.

{I do have to mention that my fondness for orange-striped cats also came about because of a very special cat that was part of our family from about 1992 to 2000.  OJ.  However, because I'm spending this first year of Memories of Me posts concentrating on my childhood years (up to age 18), I'll defer writing about OJ, or Jack and Scout, until I'm ready to write about my adult years.}

I haven't always had orange cats.  Growing up in the 70's I had a grey-and-white cat named Sam.  Sam was a tomcat back when it was OK to be a tomcat.  Sam roamed the neighborhood every night, got in fights, and came home bloody and with torn ears.  Sam stole pork chops right off the family dining table.  Sam fathered numerous litters of kittens among our neighborhood's female cats.  Sam only liked me.  My mom didn't like Sam, she was scared of him, and rightfully so since he'd growl at her if she came into my room and tried to move him from my bed.   I loved that crazy cat.

One evening Sam went out for the night, as usual, but when morning came around he hadn't come home.  I never saw him again.  I didn't put up "Lost Cat" posters around the neighborhood, or spend a lot of time looking for him.  I think I just knew he'd probably fought his last fight, or didn't quite make it across the street ahead of a car.  I understood that cats, especially male cats, lived violent lives.  I had always secretly admired his bravery, independence, and adventurous spirit, even while I worried about his safety.

Another cat that we had was Patches.  She was a small female tortoise-shell cat and, as I've already mentioned, there wasn't much spaying or neutering going on back then so, naturally, Patches got pregnant.  She had her kittens on my bedroom floor.  We kids all gathered around to watch.  Being city kids this was our first experience at seeing animals give birth, and it was fascinating.  Patches had five kittens.  Four were tabbies or solid color but one, a female, was a pretty little calico - her coat had a snow-white background with patches of orange, black, and brown.  She was a real beauty.  The kittens eventually went to the local animal shelter, to be adopted out, but my mom has always expressed regret that she didn't keep that little calico, she was that pretty.

It's interesting to think about how far we've come, as a society, in the treatment of animals, just in my own lifetime.  When I was a kid it was not considered irresponsible to let your cats - and dogs, in many cases - to roam the neighborhood.  Nor was spaying and neutering an integral part of animal guardianship.  I don't know whether there were relatively fewer homeless animals then or not, or whether animal shelters are as overcrowded as they are now.  It was also an accepted part of life that animals often died from being struck by automobiles, poisonings, or fights. 

I'm very glad things have changed so much, and most people now consider themselves "guardians" of their animals, instead of "owners."

Are you wondering whether my life has had nine cats?

Let's see:

1. Sam
2. Patches
3. Callie
4. Bo
5. OJ
6. Leah
7. Tony
8. Jack
9. Scout

YEP!  And the plan is to have {at least} nine more.

FOR NEXT WEEK:  "What did you want to be when you grew up?  Why?"

1 comment:

spencer said...

Cant say I have a favorite animal...since I am allergic, I dont even really like animals. BUT, I have seen those tigers at Discovery Kingdom, and they are pretty cool! I think I even have a few pictures of them! ( Me with animal pictures? Weird!)
Heather