My life is littered with cats, in the best way. The milking parlor of
my grandpa’s Jersey farm was kitchen to big gray tigers that topped of
their haymow catches with pans of creamy dairy, fresh from the cow.
cousins and I could get close to a few, especially when the tigresses
bore kittens in the straw. We learned to leave the little ones alone
while their eyes were still blue and to carry them loosely so as not to
be scratched. My aunts and uncles swear that one tom had an excessively
long neck because two-year-old me carried it around by the throat, but I
have no recollection of this.
Other than the somewhat aloof barn
cats of my childhood, I grew up with dogs. I bought into the cat
stereotype, the belief that cats disdain human attention. Then I met My
Steven and we adopted a cat, and all my preconceived notions of cat-dom
went into the litterbox.
Mrrp was a big-boned scrapper who was
abandoned on the streets of Toledo. He yowled the entire width of Ohio
whenever we traveled from one side to the other and claimed the
destination as his own. We had him neutered, but he still tore a hole in
a screen door to fight a cat who dared to sit on his porch, even though
Mrrp himself was never intentionally allowed outside.
showdown, the two cats would sit on either side of the screen and
growl-scream at each other. This is kind of like prefacing a question
with, “Let me ask you this.” The person you are talking with knows that
they are either in for a verbal battle sprinkled with lots of big words
or one punctuated with short, foul ones.
Finally, the stray
sprayed the door. This was the last straw for Mrrp. We panicked when we
saw the hole in the screen, but found our cat grooming his paws in the
living room window. Steve saw the other guy the next day, two doors down
and missing an ear.
Overall, Mrrp was a lover. He cared for our
second cat, a kitten who was shut in a mailbox on my running route. He
ended any human arguments by curling up on the lap of whomever he deemed
the most reasonable. He could spot the biggest cat-hater in any room,
climb onto their chest, “mrrrrrp” softly and sway their opinion, at
least a little bit.
This week, we said goodbye to another cat, the
most Mrrp-like feline we’ve known since Mrrp himself. Discarded cats
walk the fields, streets and alleys of this county, reviled for doing
what they do to survive in a place where they shouldn’t be. Please
spay/neuter your cats and keep them indoors, alive with personalites
that will soften the harshest word.